Rep. Steve King (R)
Iowa 5th District
Sioux City, one of the oldest market towns on the Great Plains, is nestled in the loess bluffs above the Missouri River. Although still the largest city on the Plains west of Des Moines and north of Omaha, Sioux City has not grown much in the past half-century. Its original economic base has become obsolete: The waterfront, once raucous with boatmen and stockyard workers, is now quiet. Downtown stores have been replaced by shopping malls at the edge of town, where people spend a day doing a season’s shopping and then drive for hours to get home. The stockyards, which employed thousands and slaughtered millions of hogs during their peak years in the 1920s, are shuttered. But there are still many hogs in western Iowa. Instead of meeting sellers in the markets of the Sioux City stockyard, packers now contract directly with large farms and build their modern slaughterhouses nearby. Tyson Foods has facilities in Buena Vista and Crawford counties. Meanwhile, wind farming has grown. Iowa is among the top states generating electricity from wind, over objections from some farmers to the noise and the hazard to birds.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Sioux City is the largest city in the 5th Congressional District, which covers the western part of the state from Minnesota to Missouri and borders South Dakota and Nebraska to the west. This is the state’s largest congressional district geographically, the one with the most 4-H members, and the nation’s chief hog- and pig-producing district. In recent years, outside investors moved into the district’s small towns for large-scale ethanol production. Council Bluffs is home to the mansion of General Grenville Dodge, who in 1859 lobbied Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln on the need for a transcontinental railroad. Lincoln got it through Congress in 1863, Dodge became its chief engineer, and Council Bluffs became its eastern terminus when it was completed in 1869. Surrounded by beef grazing territory, where federal intrusion has long been resented, Council Bluffs looks west across the Missouri River to Omaha, taking on the culturally more conservative tone of Nebraska and the conservative politics of the Omaha World-Herald, despite the presence of three Nevada-style casinos in the city. But Council Bluffs is also developing an economically hip side with Google’s decision to open a data facility there. This is by far the most Republican district in Iowa, and George W. Bush twice carried it by wide margins. In 2008, McCain won it 54%-44%.
Rep. Steve King (R)
Elected: 2002, 4th term.
Born: May 28, 1949, Storm Lake .
Education: NW MO St. U., 1967-70.
Family: Married (Marilyn); 3 children.
Elected office: IA Senate, 1996-2002.
Professional Career: King Construction Co. owner, 1975-2002.
The congressman from the 5th District is Steve King, a Republican who won the seat in 2002. He was born in Storm Lake in western Iowa and attended Northwest Missouri State University, though he didn’t graduate. In 1975, he founded the King Construction Company. After building up his business, he launched his political career in 1996, at age 47, with his election to the state Senate, where he quickly gained a reputation as an ultraconservative. He opposed abortion rights, racial quotas and preferences, and same-sex marriage. He sponsored Iowa’s “God and Country” bill, which required Iowa schools to recognize that the United States “has derived its strength from biblical values,” and he was a driving force behind the state’s English-only law. On economic matters, King supported repeal of the state’s inheritance tax, and backed a 15% state income-tax reduction and a national right-to-work law.
|Steve King (R)||159,430||(60%)||($873,230)|
|Rob Hubler (D)||99,601||(37%)||($290,089)|
|Victor Vara (I)||7,406||(3%)|
|Steve King (R)||22,663||(99%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (59%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (62%)
When the U.S. House seat came open in 2002, there were four main contenders in the Republican primary. King ran as a strong conservative and as the only rural candidate, and called for limiting federal control of local schools. King led in the June primary with 30% of the vote. Because no one candidate received the required 35% of the vote, the nomination was determined by a special party convention three weeks later. The 533 voting delegates needed three ballots to select a winner. King led on each ballot and defeated House Speaker Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs, 272-253, in the final round, marking the first time in 38 years that Iowans used a convention to select a congressional nominee. The general election outcome was never in doubt. Democrat Paul Shomshor attempted to paint King as too conservative for the district, and won the endorsement of the Omaha World-Herald, but fell far short, 62%-38%. The conservative National Review magazine heralded King as the “Great Right Hope.”
In the House, King has not been shy about sharing his strong views, and gets a fair amount of national press for controversial remarks. In 2005, the House passed his amendment to prohibit Medicare funds to reimburse for Viagra, a drug prescribed for male sexual dysfunction. He has been an outspoken proponent of tougher immigration laws. The House has twice passed his amendment to enforce a 1996 law that forbids localities from standing in the way if police officers want to report immigration information to the federal government. He advocates English as the official language of the United States. In April 2008, an Iowa district court judge ruled in favor of King’s challenge to state officials who had placed bilingual voting forms on state websites. A Carroll Daily Times Herald columnist who assembled some of King’s quotes into a book, King Kong Krazy, calls him “maniacally nationalistic.”
In 2007, King became the ranking Republican on the immigration subcommittee of Judiciary, which put him in the middle of the high-profile debate. He criticized Democrats who voted for a fence along the Mexican border while they backed lawsuits to thwart its construction. When the subcommittee passed a bill to permit foreign fashion models into the country for a photo shoot, King called it the “Ugly American Bill” because he said it implied that attractive Americans could not be found for the work. After nine Democrats voted against House passage of his resolution to recognize the importance of Christmas, he condemned their “assault on Christianity in America.” He also has been vocal in urging Republican leaders to adopt a more aggressive strategy to regain the House majority. “There’s got to be blood on the floor,” he has said. On local issues, King has called for expansion of “value-added agriculture,” including biotechnology and ethanol production, to strengthen the local economy. He successfully promoted an expanded tax credit for small ethanol and biodiesel producers as part of the 2005 energy law.
In his re-election bid in 2004, King carried all but one small county and won 63%-37% over Democrat Joyce Schulte. She ran again in 2006, accused him of “racist remarks” on immigration, and lost again, 59%-36%. King refused to debate her, saying that most voters already knew his views. After endorsing Republican Fred Thompson for president in 2008, he said in March that “radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets” if Barack Obama won. John McCain’s campaign condemned those remarks, but King declined to apologize.