Double payback: Steve King staffer will challenge GOP Senator David Johnson

Zach Whiting, a staffer for U.S. Representative Steve King, will run for the Iowa Senate in 2018 against Republican State Senator David Johnson, Tom Lawrence reported today for nwestiowa.com. Whiting told Lawrence, "David Johnson’s decision to leave the Republican Party has left his constituents without a representative, without an effective representative." Johnson announced on June 7 that he was changing his registration to no-party because of Donald Trump’s "racist remarks and judicial jihad." I assume he will rejoin the GOP soon after the November election, though he has not promised to do so.

Lawrence’s article did not mention another likely motivation for Whiting’s bid: Johnson supported and donated to Iowa Senate colleague Rick Bertrand’s challenge to King in the fourth Congressional district this year. King won just under 65 percent of the Republican primary vote. Johnson later told the Sioux City Journal he would support Bertrand for Congress again, adding, "There is too much blind loyalty to Steve King."

Follow me after the jump for more about the political make-up of Iowa Senate district 1, background on both candidates, and first thoughts on Whiting’s chances.

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Ten presidential candidates qualify for the Iowa ballot

The filing deadline to run in Iowa’s general election ended at 5 pm today, and the Secretary of State’s Office has updated the list of candidates who submitted nominating papers and petitions with enough signatures. The following ten presidential tickets will appear on Iowa ballots:

2016 presidential candidates in Iowa
Names Party affiliation
Donald J. Trump/Michael R. Pence Republican
Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine Democratic
Darrell L. Castle/Scott N. Bradley Constitution Party
Jill Stein/Ajamu Baraka Iowa Green Party
Dan R. Vacek/Mark G. Elworth Legal Marijuana Now
Gary Johnson/Bill Weld Libertarian
Lynn Kahn/Jay Stolba New Independent Party
Gloria La Riva/Dennis J. Banks Party for Socialism and Liberation
Rocky Roque De La Fuente/Michael Steinberg Nominated By Petition
Evan McMullin/Nathan Johnson Nominated By Petition

The last three public polls in Iowa put Johnson at 12 percent, 6 percent, and 12 percent in a four-way race against Clinton, Trump, and Stein. Although those surveys probably overstate Johnson’s support, the unusual unpopularity of this year’s major-party nominees gives the Libertarian a good chance to improve on all of his party’s previous showings in Iowa. Click here to view results for Libertarian presidential candidates going back to 1976. At a Polk County Democratic event last night, a number of activists were concerned that Johnson’s name was not yet on the Secretary of State’s candidate list, because Johnson is presumed to draw more support from traditionally Republican-leaning voters. Libertarian activists cut it close by submitting nominating papers today, but all’s well that ends well.

Others who filed on the last possible day included Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer who launched his presidential campaign only last week, and the candidates for the New Independent Party and Legal Marijuana Now, which seem like decent names for picking up protest votes.

Five candidates qualified to run for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat: Republican Charles E. Grassley, Democrat Patty Judge, Libertarian Charles Aldrich, Jim Hennager of the New Independent Party, and Michael Luick-Thrams, “Nominated By Petition.”

Only major-party candidates will appear on the ballot in three of Iowa’s four Congressional districts: Republican Rod Blum and Democrat Monica Vernon in IA-01, Republican Christopher Peters and Democrat Dave Loebsack in IA-02, Republican Steve King and Democrat Kim Weaver in IA-04.

The field will be more crowded in IA-03, with Republican David Young, Democrat Jim Mowrer, Libertarian Bryan Jack Holder, and two candidates to be listed as “Nominated By Petition”: Claudia Addy and Joe Grandanette.

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House GOP quashes vote on Steve King's latest wacky idea

The U.S. House Rules Committee decided tonight against allowing a vote on Representative Steve King’s proposal to block the U.S. Treasury Department from using federal funds to redesign any currency. In April, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced plans to redesign the $20 bill, with a picture of Harriet Tubman on the front and an image of President Andrew Jackson on the back.

The innovation didn’t sit well with King. As Zach Carter first reported for the Huffington Post, King offered his amendment to the appropriations bill covering the Treasury Department. Matthew Nussbaum reported this evening for Politico,

“It’s not about Harriet Tubman, it’s about keeping the picture on the $20,” King said Tuesday evening, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. “Y’know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have.”

The conservative gadfly said it is “racist” and “sexist” to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency. “Here’s what’s really happening, this is liberal activism on the part of the president, that’s trying to identify people by categories and he’s divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”

Has anyone seen a better example of white male privilege lately? U.S. paper currency has featured white men on all denominations for generations. Yet it’s "racist" and "sexist" to put an African-American woman on one bill and several white women on another—even though both redesigned bills would retain images of white men on one side.

Sensitivity to racial injustice has never been King’s strong suit, so of course he would call it "unifying" to keep the seventh president’s place on the $20. Never mind Jackson’s legacy of brutal Indian removal policies, not to mention direct involvement in the slave trade and attempts to limit postal delivery of abolitionist materials. In case King forgot, the Republican Party grew out of the anti-slavery movement.

With Donald Trump damaging the GOP brand among non-white Americans, House leaders needed unflattering national news coverage and an eventual floor vote on King’s amendment like a hole in the head. So the Rules Committee determined the proposal to be out of order. King can go back to fighting "bloodthirsty vegan brigades" and other imagined threats to American civilization.

UPDATE: Added below fantastic comments by King’s Democratic challenger, Kim Weaver.

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Rick Bertrand "unlikely" to seek third term in Iowa Senate, may run again in IA-04

If the Iowa politics rumor mill can be believed, State Senator Rick Bertrand has been telling constituents for some time that he will not seek a third term in the legislature. Less than two weeks after losing the fourth Congressional district primary to Representative Steve King by a two to one margin, Bertrand told the Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth that he is more likely to run for Congress or some other office in 2018 than for re-election.

I am skeptical.

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Bleeding Heartland 2016 primary election prediction contest results

In contrast to 2012 and 2014, no recounts or special nominating conventions delayed the tabulation of results from Bleeding Heartland’s latest election contest.

Follow me after the jump to see which predictions in this comment thread most closely corresponded to unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Spoiler alert: yet again, I failed to win. One of these years…

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