King unfazed by campaign

FILE

FILE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, doesn’t see the 4th Congressional District seat as “his.”

Instead, King said, the seat is that of the people.

The 66-year-old is up for re-election this year and has received a new Republican challenger after backlash for supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president, who was the winner of the Iowa caucuses. King serves as Cruz’s national co-chairman.

“You’re always only one mistake away from falling into that situation [of not being re-elected],” King told The Daily Iowan from his office in Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. “But on the other hand, I’ve been representing that district for some time; people know me.”

King said he has been to all 382 towns in the 4th District and has his staff go to every town and meet with people as well.

“We touch the pulse of the district, and we build networks and relationships with the advocacy groups that are there,” King said.

But King’s involvement with presidential politics has spurred movement in his own party.

Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, is running against Cruz in the primary, which is on June 7.

Bertrand, 46, said he is a fresh face and has a reputation in Des Moines as someone who gets things done. He said he has been primed for the 4th District run since before the midterm elections, when King flirted with the idea of running for Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat. King did not end up running for Senate.

“It’s just time for a new face. I’ve got a fresh vision,” Bertrand said. “I think I’m going to give Iowans a choice, not between a conservative and a liberal … but a choice of a fresh face.”

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One of Bertrand’s main critiques of King, however, comes from the congressman’s endorsement of Cruz, contending that it was a “direct finger to the eye” to Iowans.

King isn’t running an Iowa agenda, Bertrand said, contending that by supporting Cruz, King hurts the ethanol industry.

Cruz said last fall he would like to remove the Renewable Fuel Standard, though he still supports ethanol and other biofuels. The Texas senator said ethanol and biofuels would continue to be necessary and would grow without the standard.

“He put his support behind somebody that is a Texan, an oil man, and has an anti-Iowa view,” Bertrand said about King.

Bertrand said he has been meeting with Iowans across the district to raise his profile.

But some voters in the 4th District don’t think they will get a new congressman this November.

Wendell Steven, the Kossuth County Republicans chairman, said King is one of the best representatives the district has had in a long time. Kossuth County is located in northwestern Iowa, near the Minnesota border in the 4th District.

Steven said Bertram sounds like a “good guy,” after the state senator visited a Kossuth County Republicans this past week, but does not compare with King.

“He doesn’t say things black and white like Rep. King does,” Steven said. “He doesn’t come across as truthful as King does.”

As for King’s support for Cruz, Steven said the Texas senator won Iowa and doesn’t think King’s endorsement will “hurt him one bit.”

“Unless Trump gets in, then a lot of people are going to hurt. Of course, they won’t hurt as much if the communist gets in,” Steven said, referring to both Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

King is unfazed about whether he could lose his seat due to backing Cruz.

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