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By Staff | Apr 29, 2016

I have never formally endorsed anyone for political office before until I announced support for Rick Bertrand for Congress in the June 7 Primary against Steve King. It is all about agriculture to me.

Steve King stuck a knife in our back with his support of Ted Cruz. The ethanol industry is supporting King’s opponent, Rick Bertrand. Rick is a Republican state senator who was once a farm boy and whose father still farms.

His brother has a cement company and has most of the contract for the cement work for the new hog packing plant being built in Sioux City. Rick understands the need for economic growth.

He understands that the two new hog packing plants under construction in his district in Sioux City and Mason City will produce for the export market, underlining the importance of TPP which King serves as co-chair of the Cruz campaign that opposes it.

Question: How do you co-chair the campaign of a candidate who would repeal the RFS, vote against the TPP and deny dairy farmers access to legal immigrant labor, missing votes in Congress to represent Cruz on the campaign trail, and believe that you are still representing constituent’s interests in an ag district?

Frankly, it has not been very hard when talking to business/ethanol/livestock producers to find support for a change in congressman. King has built up a wellspring of ill will in the district.

Bruce Rastetter is the Bertrand campaign chief fundraiser. He runs Summit Ag representing the ag sector. Bruce hosted the Ag Summit in Des Moines for the presidential candidates.

He is also Governor Branstad’s chief confidant so would not be Bertrand’s chief fundraiser if the effort was not being supported by the governor.

America’s Renewable Future, an ethanol group headed by Gov. Terry Branstad’s son, Eric, went head-to-head with King/Cruz during the GOP presidential primary and that support has now shifted to Bertrand in the Congressional primary.

Bertrand’s focus will be on constituent representation, championing economic growth for his district. King’s focus has been on ideology, neglecting the engines of economic growth. King has practiced identity politics, ignoring the interests of all but his narrow base.

Steve King was recently endorsed by Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey. I want to predicate my comments by saying that I consider Bill to be a friend. We are both from Spirit Lake, his family is Iowa’s best, and he has performed in an exemplary manner as Iowa’s ag secretary.

He has a knack for bridging differences and for civil discussion of opposing issues. He is in the middle of the controversy over water quality and the Des Moines waterworks lawsuit against three drainage districts.

Bill and I agree to disagree on issues such as an Iowa ethanol standard. I have long advocated that Iowa adopt a Minnesota-like ethanol standard that puts some ethanol in every gallon of fuel sold in Minnesota thinking that there should be ethanol in every gallon of fuel sold in Iowa.

Iowa has led the way on production, but not consumption. One pillar of Bill’s base of political support is conservative ideologues who oppose an Iowa ethanol standard because of opposition to government mandates. Bill steadfastly adheres to that position.

The irony to this, which I have never been able to get past, is that Bill strongly supports the Federal RFS which is technically a mandate.

As ethanol consumption has always exceeded the minimums set by EPA the RFS has never had to function directly as a mandate. I have always struggled with why a state mandate is ideologically unacceptable while a federal mandate is desirable?

The differing rationale doesn’t compute, which is why I make a very poor ideologue.

Why did Bill endorse King? He says that it was because King can sway the votes of 25 fellow conservative wackos in Congress to support the RFS. I find that hard to believe, as King was unable to sway even one conservative wacko, named Ted Cruz, in favor of the RFS or TPP and supported him anyway.

I believe the real reason Bill endorsed King is that he needs the conservatives again in his run for governor. It is no secret that Bill is looking for a pathway to run for governor when Branstad retires. In a nutshell, Bill is screwed.

The Branstad/Rastetter forces are supporting Lt. Gov. Kim Reynold’s candidacy. They have been grooming her for the office for some time. She will be a very strong candidate, first woman governor of Iowa and all that.

Bill is shut out from that direction to the nomination for governor so is trying to find a new one.

Hence, the Northey endorsement of King is intended to give the appearance that King has shored up support from the ag sector. He endorsed King for Congress and then King throws his nod to the evangelical conservatives that he can influence to support Northey in his run for governor.

This amounts to politicians trading favors with one another.

The Northey/King alliance has nothing to do with agriculture or who should represent us in Congress. It is derived from each of their personal political needs.

Bill is not a conservative wacko, but this alliance is the only pathway he sees open to him.

Bill and I agreed to disagree again.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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