Grassley, King still good bets

By ART CULLEN

Iowa Democrats have targeted Sen. Chuck Grassley, a New Hartford Republican, for defeat because he will not allow a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Grassley deserves defeat for using his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to play politics with the court system. Grassley has become Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s lapdog. Four Democrats will run in a June primary in hopes of defeating him.

Moderate Republicans join Democrats in wishing away Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, for being an offensive boob who showed Donald Trump the way to win dull minds and empty hearts. He faces a Republican primary challenge from Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, plus a Democratic challenger in Kim Weaver of Sheldon.

This all might look like something, or not.

Iowa voters tend to support incumbents, strongly. Tom Harkin did defeat incumbent Sen. Roger Jepsen, but Harkin already was a prominent House member and hero among Iowa Democrats. Terry Branstad did defeat Chet Culver, but Branstad is Branstad and Chet is not his father.

Grassley is still universally admired by Iowa Republicans, especially for stonewalling President Obama’s pick to the Supreme Court. Democrats and independents who thought he was a maverick may now disabuse themselves of that notion, but they still probably can’t beat him. He will have all the money he needs, and all the organization built up by decades of aw-shucks politics.

King probably will defeat any challenger by double digits. Weaver will tell you she does not enjoy central party support. Bertrand does not have it in him to spout the sort of racist claptrap that makes King so popular in the backwards pockets of western Iowa that make up the district’s Republican base. The same Republican party activists who brought Ted Cruz to the top in this neighborhood will be the same ones voting in the primary come June.

Keep your bets on the inside horses. Even with Donald Trump in the race, Grassley and King are well-liked in Iowa, unlike John Culver or Roger Jepsen.