MASON CITY – The likelihood of Steve King running for the U.S. Senate in 2014 is growing with each passing day. When longtime Democrat Senator Tom Harkin announced two and half weeks ago that he planned to retire, King said he was “50/50” on whether or not to run for the soon-to-be-open senate seat. Now, those odds have increased in favor of senatorial bid.
“That needle has gone over 50 percent,” King told TheIowaRepublican.com. “Each day that has gone by, on balance, it’s more likely, rather than less likely.”
Ironically, the main factor spurring King toward running is Karl Rove’s efforts to prevent him from running. Rove is a renowned GOP strategist who engineered both of George W. Bush’s successful presidential elections. Rove has formed a new group called the Conservative Victory Project. Its goal is to block controversial candidates from winning the GOP nomination in senate races.
The one candidate Rove’s group singled out in a New York Times article was Steve King. That decision has backfired. Not only has Rove enraged conservatives throughout Iowa and around the country, he has also emboldened Steve King.
“If I would back up in front of Karl Rove’s initiative, that would just empower him, and he would go on state after state, candidate after candidate,” King said. “I don’t think any individual has the wisdom to make those kind of decisions, but I think Iowans together can make those decisions and should. That’s the principle. We have to fight this out in the court of public opinion.”
Congressman King adds that he will wage this battle with Karl Rove and his organization to its completion before deciding whether or not to run for the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, as a bid for higher office weighs on Steve King’s mind, serving his current constituents is the Fourth District congressman’s top priority. King held a grand opening for his Mason City office on Wednesday. It was clear to the attendees that constituent services come first.
During an office ceremony that included speeches from Mason City’s mayor and the executive director of the local chamber of commerce, King interrupted the proceedings to make sure a phone call to the new congressional office was answered. King’s District Representative Merlin Bartz, a former state senator, handled the call. He and King then talked over each other as the congressman addressed the assembled crowd and Bartz spoke with the constituent.
Although he is known as a conservative firebrand, Congressman King says he represents everyone in Iowa’s Fourth District, whether they are Democrats, independents or Republicans. The district presents a challenge to King, as several of the counties he now represents lean Democratic. That is quite a change from the old Fifth District, which was overwhelmingly Republican.
“Once the election is over, we’re all the same and when the phone rang in the middle, we had to stop and take care of constituent services and that’s what we will do every day,” King said. “The more we hear from people here on what matters, the better it is and the easier it is for us to do our job. That is the nature of politics.”
For those that say Congressman King could not win a statewide general election, he points out that all of the early polls show him in the lead in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat. King is also used to proving the pundits wrong.
When Steve King first ran for the Iowa Senate 17 years ago, he says “the powers that be” told him winning was impossible. “I won that primary against a 24-year incumbent, with two-thirds of the vote and carried 75 percent of his home county,” he said.
The Odebolt native had to deal with naysayers once again when he decided to run for Congress in 2002. In a hotly-contested, four-way primary, King was encouraged to exit the race because some “experts” thought he was not a viable candidate. King earned the most votes in the primary election, won the GOP nominating convention, that general election and the next five more.
King says he has not set a timetable for when he will determine whether or not to run for the U.S. Senate. One thing that is for certain is Steve King’s tenacity. Karl Rove is learning that, the hard way.
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