King loses

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Good riddance that Rep. Steve King lost Tuesday night, JD Scholten said. The Democrat from Sioux City helped to bring down the infamous incumbent at the hands of Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, when Scholten came within three percentage points in the 2018 midterm election. It wasn’t King’s racist comments that beat him. Feenstra didn’t speak out about any of it over the past 18 years. King’s sin was showing vulnerability in the friendliest GOP district in the nation. He was stripped of his committee assignments after the election. That’s what Feenstra campaigned on — that King was ineffective because the GOP drummed him off the ag and judiciary committees following the election.

What’s wrong with white nationalism, and when did it go passé? That is the sentiment expressed by King that Republicans used to wash their hands of him. He was too candid, which was always King’s appeal with voters who thought that the government, the system, was out to screw them. Yet Feenstra stands four-square with President Trump, who sees immigrants as rats crawling over the border and incites fear among disenfranchised white rural voters. Feenstra is King but less candid. He is Mike Pence.

As a state senator he worked to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, voted to defund the Aldo Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, continued to suffocate higher education (specifically the Iowa Tuition grant that keeps private colleges like Dordt, Buena Vista and Briar Cliff afloat), and never once raised his voice in defense of immigrants terrorized by the government.

Feenstra was the one who called for Northwest Iowa to boycott Des Moines (unless, of course, Western Christian is making its annual appearance at the state basketball tournament) when the Des Moines Water Works filed its lawsuit over nitrate pollution of the Raccoon River. Up where Feenstra comes from, the nitrate load in the Floyd River is 14 times higher than considered safe by the University of Iowa College of Public Health. He is okay with poison in the river so long as it does not get in the way of his agri-chemical puppet masters.

Feenstra won 83% of the vote in GOP-rich Sioux County, despite King winning Buena Vista and Sac counties. It remains to be seen whether that sort of support will be enough in the general election amid an economic, cultural and political meltdown.

Scholten brought down King by offering an alternative, positive vision of rural Iowa that seeks to bring people together. He still offers that contrast to Feenstra. Scholten will have money. He has an argument: that big corporations that fund Feenstra are destroying the Fourth District. He has the drive to win. The primary indicates that Northwest Iowa seeks change. Real change comes when we send Scholten to Washington.

THERESA GREENFIELD of Des Moines easily won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak in the November general election. Greenfield had a lot of money thanks to an endorsement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, which was the main criticism from her three opponents. Greenfield worked hard, raised money and ran a carefully messaged centrist campaign with a compelling personal story: reared on a farm, widowed at a young age with children, worked her way up to an executive in the real estate business. It will wear well in the general election.

Ernst has watched her approval rating drop from over 60% to near 37% since the 2018 midterm elections. Most of it is the weight of President Trump dragging her down for standing by him as he waged trade wars with the world that destroyed ag export markets, snuffed out the ethanol industry, and ignored a sweeping coronavirus pandemic. He will be tough to shake.

Ernst will be tough to unseat despite her shaky approval rating. The GOP will dump everything it has into defending this seat as control of the Senate is at stake. With this much money pouring in from both sides, it will be nasty. Advocacy groups associated with Greenfield gave just a soft flavor with attack ads on Mike Franken of Sioux City. Greenfield appears to have the personal discipline to handle it, and can dish it out. The race is forecast to be a dead heat. Nobody knows what will happen in this dystopian political environment. It will boil down to a referendum on Trump. When there are protests forming in Sioux City, the atmosphere certainly does not favor incumbents.

We hope Greenfield has a field day with Ernst for standing by while Trump sold out our Republic and tried to stamp out democracy. He is a sham and a flim-flam man, and Iowans have figured that much out. There will be no running away from him.

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