King Promises Rightward Movement for
By Gregory L. Giroux
CQ Staff Writer
Friday, July 5, 2002; 5:35 PM
If Republican state Sen. Steve King captures Iowa's 5th District in
November, as political strategists in both parties expect, he will use
his House seat as a "leadership position. . . .to move the political
center in Washington to the right."
Those were King's words to the convention that gave the conservative
six-year state legislator the GOP nomination on June 29, nearly four
weeks after the four-candidate GOP primary failed to produce a clear-cut
winner. King's triumph was tantamount to a general election victory in
the 5th, a solidly conservative, mostly rural 32-county swath in western
Iowa. He is strongly favored to defeat Democratic nominee Paul Shomshor,
an accountant and former city councilman from Council Bluffs.
King's political philosophy is heavily colored by his business
background as the owner of a construction company he founded in 1975. He
thinks that government too heavily taxes and regulates businesses such
as his own.
"I saw that government weight cause me to take more and more of my
resources and hire people to fill out paperwork and meet their
requirements," said King, who added that 43 federal, state and local
government agencies regulate his business.
The current tax code, he said, inflicts a burden that "saps the
resources" of businesses small and large and "takes away incentive for
King will bring to Congress the same tax-cutting zeal he exemplified in
the state Senate. He backed the repeal of the state inheritance tax and
supported a 15 percent across-the-board state income tax reduction over
the 10 percent cut that was ultimately enacted.
On social issues, he similarly espouses strongly conservative views,
particularly his opposition to abortion rights. In the state Senate, he
sponsored a law that declared English to be Iowa's official language.
And he has denounced affirmative action programs as "preferential
treatment policies" that are the "last bastion of institutionalized
racism in this country."
King is a strong advocate of a national right-to-work law but concedes
it will be difficult to enact. He wants to repeal the 1931 Davis-Bacon
Act, a Depression-era law that requires federal contractors to pay their
employees "local prevailing wages," which organized labor supports.
"It's an inappropriate place for the federal government to be involved
in telling people what to pay their help," King said. "I deal with that
on an annual basis here. ... I tell people that I don't get to die until
that is repealed."
King's entry into politics -- "I am not the product of a candidate
recruitment plan," he said -- stems from his 1996 run for state Senate
largely out of frustration with some of its legislators.
Testifying before a state Senate committee on a property-rights bill, he
spoke for three of the 10 minutes he was allotted before he was
interrupted by a senator who asked a question that took six minutes.
"I opened my mouth to answer the question and the chairman said, 'Time's
up,'" King said. "I walked out of there and I thought, 'I will be
He challenged state Sen. Wayne Bennett in a GOP primary after Bennett
rebuffed King's request to strengthen language in a bill requiring
parental notification before a minor's abortion.
"Then I just decided that I could spend the rest of my life piling one
dollar on top of another running the business, or I could get involved
in public service," King said. "So I filed paperwork and ran for
He trounced Bennett by more than a 2-1 ratio in the primary and
comfortably won the general election, and was easily re-elected in 2000.
With regard to his congressional bid, he recalled talking to Republican
former Rep. Fred Grandy (1987-95) sometime in the late 1980s about
succeeding him in the House, and in his first term as a state
legislator, King discussed with fellow Republican senator John Redwine
the possibility of running against one another in a U.S. House primary.
That scenario was borne out in early 2001, when redistricting redrew the
5th as an open seat. Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who represents most of
the territory that comprises the reconfigured 5th, decided to run in the
north-central 4th District. King and Redwine were joined in the GOP
primary by state House Speaker Brent Siegrist and businessman Jeff
Building the Base
King's campaign started slowly. Redwine had a base in solidly
conservative northwest Iowa, Siegrist had significant institutional
support and Ballenger had substantial personal resources.
But King positioned himself as the most conservative candidate and
received some key financial backing from the conservative Club for
Growth, which aired television ads lauding King and funneled individual
contributions to his campaign. King said the Club for Growth "helped
He also received endorsements from prominent conservative activists
Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, who together won a majority of
votes in the 2000 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa.
That backing, and his popularity in rural areas, propelled King to a 30
percent showing in the June 4 primary, which topped Redwine (25
percent), Siegrist (24 percent) and Ballenger (21 percent). But Iowa law
triggered a nominating convention -- the state's first since 1964 --
because no candidate received 35 percent of the vote.
King captured the nomination on the third ballot, beating Siegrist
272-253, after falling short of a majority vote on earlier ballots that
eliminated Redwine and Ballenger.
The convention had added significance for King because it was held at
Denison High School, where he graduated from in 1967. King was nominated
on the same day of his 35-year reunion.
Source: CQ Daily Monitor
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