Steve King And Mitt Romney-- A Match Made In Right-Wing Hell
It would be cruel to insinuate Mitt Romney feels a kinship to Iowa extremist because they're both animal haters. King has been in the news lately for trying to legalize dog fighting and Romney, of course, is still plagued by the Seamus episode. So I won't. And, besides, there's a lot more that links Romney and King than their mutually sociopathic attitude towards pets. In fact, Steve King is the very worst of what the Republican Party has on offer-- and Mitt Romney is trying to lead that party.
I wish King had a progressive champion as an opponent, someone Blue America could proudly back. But his opponent, Christie Vilsack, isn't that. She appears to be a decent moderate, a moderate in the real sense of the word, not in the Beltway sense of the word that usually connotes "conservative." Mutual friends tell me she may not wind up a fighter for a progressive agenda but that she's not going to be another Democrat Boehner and Cantor can count on to make their insane proposals look "bipartisan."
I'm always nervous about backing Democrats just because their opponents are horrible. In an ideal world, you find an especially horrible Republican-- say Paul Ryan, Buck McKeon, Patrick McHenry, Eric Cantor, Joe Pitts for example-- and then you back the progressive champion who's running against them, in these cases Rob Zerban, Lee Rogers, Patsy Keever, Wayne Powell and Aryanna Strader. There you have five of the worst villains in Congress and the potential replacements are all excellent, smart, courageous progressives. That's not related to how the DCCC works. They just look for someone they can beat with someone who will fit into their world of Beltway corruption and careerism. And most of the veal pen groups who work with the DCCC go merrily along with their premises. Some pick the worst Republicans-- but only from the DCCC's list-- and don't mind who they might be helping get into Congress.
Allen West-- aside from being a war criminal-- is a standard Republican villain. A case can be made that he actually helps progressives since every time he gets on TV, he turns independents and moderates off with his demented extremism. Does he deserve to be defeated? Of course-- and just as much as the 6 Republican villains we named above. But his opponent, Patrick Murphy, isn't a progressive-- or even a Democrat! He's a lifelong Republican opportunist who just wants a career in politics. I would never even vote for a creep like that, let along support his campaign in any way. If Patrick Murphy gets into Congress he'll be another embarrassment to the Democratic brand, another enabler of the right-wing agenda. And, I'm afraid, a good portion of the DCCC targets this cycle-- carefully chosen by corrupt "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel, have opponents who are unworthy of support from anyone who cares about making progress in America. Many of their Frontline candidates, incumbents in trouble because Democrats don't want to support them because of their basically GOP voting records, define all that's wrong with the Democratic Party, from Blue Dogs John Barrow (GA), Jim Matheson (UT), Larry Kissell (NC), Ben Chandler (KY) and Mike McIntyre (NC) to reactionary fellow travelers Bill Owens (NY), Mark Critz (PA) and Ron Barber (AZ). They all have horrendous voting records and no one should consider voting for any of them without reading those records and seeing how often they back the Republican and corporate agendas. As for the DCCC's Red-to-Blue list, it's filled with absolutely terrible candidates, the same kind (and in some cases just the same) who Democratic voters abandoned en mass in 2010 because they were just too right-wing in their voting. The DCCC has selected a whole batch of anti-Choice, antigay, corporate whores among their flock of Blue Dogs and New Dems-- not just Patrick Murphy, but Scott Peters (New Dem-CA), Hayden Rogers (Blue Dog-NC), Brendan Mullen (Blue Dog-IN), Sal Pace (Blue Dog/New Dem-CO), Shelley Adler (New Dem-NJ), David Crooks (Blue Dog-IN), Charlie Wilson (Blue Dog/New Dem-OH), Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL), Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA), Val Demings (New Dem-FL), Bill Foster (New Dem-IL), Nick Lampson (Blue Dog-TX), Gary McDowell (Blue Dog-MI), Pam Gulleson (Blue Dog-ND)... And, yes, they all have terrible Republican opponents. But the DCCC isn't backing Rob Zerban, Lee Rogers, Patsy Keever, Wayne Powell and Aryanna Strader, all of whom have even worse and more dangerous Republican opponents and who are progressive and independent-minded and, worst for a crook like Steve Israel, not interested in the corruption game that defines him as a politician and on which he's banking to climb the political ladder.
So... back to Steve King. The Democrat running against him has joined the New Dems-- a very bad sign-- but, other than that, there is no reason to believe she will be a problematic Member of Congress. She may not be a Rob Zerban, Lee Rogers, Patsy Keever, Wayne Powell or Aryanna Strader, but she's also not a Patrick Murphy or Hayden Rogers or Gary McDowell. Blue America isn't endorsing her but I'd take the chance and vote for her if I lived in Iowa. Steve King is that bad and she could turn out to be, like I suggested, a decent moderate. It's worth taking the chance-- especially if you're a woman, an immigrant, a member of the LGBT community, a dog fancier... Vilsack is good on all those issues and it's "just" economic justice issues where I'm nervous about her-- but, of course, that describes at least half the Democratic Members of Congress already.
Remember, even though Congress has worked damn hard to earn its historic 9% approval rating, you would be hard-pressed to find a single worse legislator than King. Since first being elected in 2002, he's been an icon of everything that's gone wrong with the Republican Party and it's slide into neo-fascist, ignornace-based dogma. His career-long ProgressivePunch score is 2.24 (out of 100); that's a shocking record of voting against the interests of the people who have voted him into office and against working families across America. Once the whole western, and much of the southern, part of the state Iowa's 5th CD was nearly as ignorant and bigoted as the man they elected to represent them in DC. But that has recently changed. King was only elected with less than 60% once (2006-- with 58%) in his career. This time, in the newly configured district, he could well be facing defeat. Once an R+8 bastion of conservatism, King now has to run in a more swingy R+4 district, where people remember Vilsack as Iowa's popular former first lady, the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. How serious is King taking this challenge? He's never agreed to debate any of his previous opponents. This time he had no choice and Vilsack devastated him in the debate Thursday, coming right out and calling him a "bully" and an "embarrassment."
It was an attack that the 10-year incumbent said caught him off-guard and appeared to leave him flummoxed and on the defensive.
King admitted as much when he was asked by moderator Gary Barrett to ask a question of Vilsack about midway through the 55-minute debate broadcast live from WHO Radio in Des Moines.
“I’m a little surprised here the way things have gone; I’m a little caught off-balance,” King said.
...Former Iowa first lady Vilsack said his tenure has been marked by a proclivity to promote himself instead of the interests of his constituents. King, who is often sought out by national news media for his conservative opinions, responded that he feels his job is to represent the district and fight the ideological battle for America as a whole.
“My job is to carry a message. My job is to move our Iowa agenda in the nation,” King said. “Where would the liberals take us? We would be one huge Greece.”
Vilsack also went after King and Congress for failing to get a farm bill passed. King, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, said the legislation is tied up on food stamp policy.
Both said the 2010 health-care law needs to be changed. Vilsack’s approach would be to keep some parts and get rid of others, such as the personal mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance. King’s solution is to repeal the entire package.
...As for her aggressiveness in the debate, she said, “It’s my job to make the contrast, and that’s what I want to do. I want to make sure that people know what I think about the issues, but I also want to make sure that they understand what Congressman King has done.”
King and Vilsack debated again Saturday at the Clay County Regional Events Center. Blue America doesn't endorse New Dems so Vilsack isn't eligible for our endorsement. We did, however, add her to an Act Blue page, meant to defeat Congress' most virulent and bigoted homophobes. And that page could never be complete without Steve King. So, if you want to contribute to replacing him with her, you can do it here.