Rick Bertrand, a state senator from Sioux City, Iowa, has announced a primary challenge against GOP Rep. Steve King. What did King do to earn the challenge? In the Iowa caucuses, King supported Ted Cruz, an opponent of the ethanol mandate.
When Cruz won, this embarassed the state’s Republican governor (whose son is a leading figure in the ethanol lobby), and exposed the supposedly formidable ethanol lobby as a paper tiger.
Bertrand hasn’t explicitly said Cruz and ethanol are behind his challenge, but everyone in the state knows it.
The Des Moines Register, in covering Bertrand’s announcment, wrote:
ethanol interests have painted a target on King’s back for supporting the presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who wants to eliminate federal energy subsidies and mandates. Bertrand supported Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the caucuses.
The Sioux City Journal reported:
Bertrand said he’s seen that Iowans and particularly those who work in agriculture aren’t happy with King, in part because he supported Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who didn’t support an extension to the federal Renewable Fuel Standard for ethanol. That caused Gov. Terry Branstad to take the step of telling Iowans that Cruz should not be supported in the Iowa caucuses, although Cruz still went on to win that first contest in the 2016 presidential nominee selection process.Bertrand said he’s heard from disgruntled agriculture-sector employees since King’s endorsement, saying corn-based ethanol is important to the state economy.
The Sioux City Journal’s editorial page welcomed Bertrand’s challenge, specifically citing King’s support for the ethanol industry’s enemy Cruz.