A Republican from Sioux City who won his second term in the state senate in 2014 may challenge fellow Republican Steve King’s bid for reelection to the U.S. House. Rick Bertrand said “maybe it is time Iowans have a choice” in the fourth congressional district.
“I’m strongly considering it,” Bertrand told Radio Iowa this afternoon. “I’m highly encouraged by the level of support in the last couple of weeks to do this. This is about math. If the numbers are there and that lines up with the chatter that’s out there, yeah, it’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.”
Bertrand, a 46-year-old businessman and commercial real estate developer, said he doesn’t just jump into anything on “a fluke.”
“When I do something, I do it full bore,” Bertrand said. “I do it strategically.”
Some Republicans have cringed at some of Congressman King’s controversial statements. Then, in January, King and Republican Governor Terry Branstad had a very public spat before the Caucuses. King endorsed Ted Cruz and Branstad said he wanted Cruz “defeated” in Iowa because of Cruz’s opposition to the federal ethanol production mandate. King, who is 66 years old, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and will be seeking his eighth term this year. Bertrand said he began thinking about running for congress last year, as he saw fellow state Senator Joni Ernst run and win a seat in the U.S. Senate.
“I don’t think anybody’s any surprised that I believe in term limits,” Bertrand said. “I don’t think anybody’s surprised that I feel like my list in the Iowa Senate of things I want to accomplish is shrinking.”
King today said he doesn’t know why Bertrand might be “motivated” to challenge him.
“I don’t remember Rick ever contacting me with any issue that he was concerned about,” King told KSCJ Radio.
King suggested there have been “well-funded people in Des Moines” who have been trying to recruit someone to run against him for years.
“We’ll just have to see what comes from that,” King said. “I don’t think the people in the fourth district want that influence to come out of the ‘Golden Circle’ to make that kind of influence on who should be their congressman.”
Bertrand described himself as a political “survivor” who won a state senate seat that had been held by Democrats for years.
“I’m a sound, proven fundraiser,” Bertrand said. “And I don’t think anyone in northwestern Iowa that watches western and northern Iowa politics is surprised by what’s going on.”
Bertrand said he wished “good luck” to anyone who would question his “conservative credentials.” Bertrand, who is Catholic, specifically cited his “no exceptions” stand on abortion and his support for Second Amendment gun rights.
The deadline for filing papers to run for congress is March 18.
(Additional reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)