Congressman Steve King says Republicans need to “respect” Congressman Tom Latham’s decision to support the deal that ended the government shutdown. Some Republicans, including Tea Party activists, have started talking about recruiting a candidate to challenge Latham in a Republican primary.
“I can’t imagine me supporting that,” King says. “I’ve, as much as I can, stayed out of primaries, especially in the state of Iowa here.”
King, a Tea Party favorite who has campaigned for Tea Party candidates in other parts of the country, voted against the deal. Latham voted yes.
“When you look at his voting record down the line, it’s been a solid conservative record,” King says. “And there are many places we can go to improve the House of Representatives without going to Tom Latham.”
Latham’s friendship with the top Republican in the House — Speaker John Boehner — plus Latham’s position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee are valuable assets for the state of Iowa, according to King.
“He has his reasons for making his decision and I have mine for making mine and we want Tom Latham to be effective in his influence in the leadership circle in the House of Representatives,” King says. “If that’s a factor in his decision, then we should respect that.”
King’s vocal opposition to immigration reform has prompted Republican insiders to suggest King himself might face a primary challenge from a pro-business conservative. King scoffs at that.
“Rumors about a primary opponent? I think my antennae are pretty good and we can’t find a whisp of smoke of such a thing,” King says.
While long-time Republican Governor Terry Branstad and the Libertarians who are now the elected leaders of the Iowa GOP have had some very public spats, King isn’t picking sides. He’s casting himself as a sort of peacemaker.
“I’ve been about the business of unifying this party and I don’t want to see the Republican Party marginalized. I don’t want to see the ‘Establishment’ wing pushed off. They have been an essential core of the Republican Party. They drive a lot of the economic agenda and, of course, they drive a lot of the fundraising side of this,” King says. “I don’t want to see the Libertarian side drift off of the other sides of this party because they are constitutionalists and they stand for the rule of law.”
King made his comments this morning during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight (Friday) on Iowa Public Television. King will speak tonight at the Iowa GOP’s annual fall fundraiser. He’ll host Texas Senator Ted Cruz in northwest Iowa on Saturday for King’s annual pheasant hunt and “King for Congress” fundraiser.