King feeds the base, and that is all he has needed

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

JD Scholten has a charming ad introducing him to the Fourth District, rumbling through the corn fields in a painted-up Winnebago, declaring that he is showing up. Scholten challenged Rep. Steve King to debate. King refused. Scholten says that King isn’t showing up. It’s a good argument.

But King is showing up, as he always has.

He was there for the Varina quilt ladies anytime they asked. He was at Cornerstone for Life talking pro-life. He was there for the Republican ribbon cutting on Hwy. 20 at Holstein though he did precious little for it. He was there at the Randy Erickson benefit in Alta, Erickson being BV County Republican chair. King always shows up for this base.

And that is what this election boils down to. King has known since he was nominated by convention at Denison more than 16 years ago that his base would deliver him. Seemingly bigger players like Brent Siegrist and John Redwine didn’t really see King coming. King knew who the base was and what their triggers were. That’s what counts out here. America first, keep the Muslims and Mexicans out, and nobody takes my guns.

It’s pretty simple. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. And it does not require King to step down to a debate against a challenger who acknowledges he is not well-versed in all the issues, especially as it may relate to Aryan tradition.

It has been a formula for success.

But we don’t have a farm bill. We do have a trade war that has shaved a couple bucks off beans. Mexicans have become crucial to the Sioux County economy, not to mention Buena Vista’s and Crawford’s (King’s home county). People who are otherwise rock-ribbed red do not like to hear about King consorting with neo-Nazis in Austria, Holland and Canada. They are at least uncomfortable about it. They would prefer that he get something done with the farm bill to help out corn and soybean markets.

King never apologizes for what he never gets done. That has seemed to work. But when markets keep imploding, not even Judge Kavanaugh can make that feel much better. And when it is a big hassle trying to get help in the hog confinements because we are terrorizing Latinos, some people might think twice for once.

Maybe the base won’t be enough this time.

It probably will be. Scholten needs to take three-fourths of the independent vote to win in a typical turnout.

Scholten has had some big names come in: Bernie Sanders drew 350 at Sioux City and 600 at Ames. The Democrats might be enthusiastic, but they do not have the same rural turnout apparatus that King does. That’s why he can be up even though Scholten has raised twice as much money and is on TV during the Iowa football game.

The base doesn’t care that much about his Tweets praising a lunatic in Toronto. They figure that’s just him spouting off. But it does care about the situation with China. And the base has what it wanted in Kavanaugh, the declarative vote, so what motivates someone to vote in this race this November? Overt racism doesn’t play that well when you know the cows don’t get milked without them. The act might wear just thin enough. Trump wants to be the show, but in fact Kim Reynolds is. And King. They are showing up where they need to. King has never tried to govern for everyone, and Reynolds is a quick student. But when the base expects that the battle is won do they rest or march?

And are enough independents, three fourths of them, disgusted enough by an open white supremacist to finally throw him out? Can King’s base for once be rendered not enough? Could we have a congressman who at least attempts to represent everyone, who does not seek to ally with international white fascists, who would try to get a farm bill passed on time, who would try to help farmers crippled by an unnecessary trade war?

Will malice lose, for once? Will enough people stand up to this clown? Will his own base stand up for what he has become, this caricature? Do we know wrong when we hear it anymore?

That’s the question.