- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Rep. King faces shift in district
‘Great Right Hope’ has more liberal voters to win over
Question of the Day
For 10 years Republican Rep. Steve King has represented a deeply conservative wedge of Iowa, a place where constituents apparently didn’t object to his comparison of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib to fraternity hazing or his suggestion that an electric fence separate the U.S. from Mexico so that illegal immigrants get the same treatment as wandering livestock.
Now his district has been redrawn and includes more moderate counties. And he is facing a potential opponent in former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, whose husband, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, remains a popular figure in the state.
“Before he probably didn’t have to show up,” said Doug Gross, a Republican strategist and former gubernatorial candidate in Iowa. “Now he’ll probably have to show up.”
In Iowa and other states where maps are being redrawn, both national parties see opportunities and potential setbacks. Tweaks to districts can put seats that were once locked down for one party firmly in play. Or they can, as is the case of Mr. King, push a conservative congressman into a territory where he will have to recast his message.
When Mr. King was elected in 2002, he was heralded by the conservative National Review as the “Great Right Hope.” He has won the affection of the party’s activist base, but he has hurt his rise in Congress with his occasional off-the-cuff remarks.
Among other controversial statements, Mr. King has said that President Obama “favors the black person” and has compared the quality of life in Washington unfavorably to Baghdad. That type of talk played well in Mr. King’s old district, which voted 54 percent to 44 percent for GOP nominee John McCain over Mr. Obama in 2008.
The new district is less conservative. Mr. McCain beat Mr. Obama by a more slender margin, 50 percent to 48 percent, in the counties that make up the new district. Independents are the plurality in the new district, roughly 34 percent of registered voters.
“This is a very different-looking district than he’s represented before,” said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky. “Frankly, it’s hard for me to believe that his particular message is going to play well in places like [traditionally Democratic] Story County as it may in the base he’s currently got.”
Republicans, including Mr. Gross, say that’s wishful thinking.
“It’s still far and away the most Republican district in Iowa,” he said.
But at least some district voters are intrigued by the former first lady’s possible candidacy. Voter Traci Niederjohn said she is excited that Mrs. Vilsack is looking at the 4th District.
“I think it will be cool to have someone that popular here,” the 41-year-old Republican said.
Mr. King is certain of one thing: His new district won’t change how he goes about his business. Nudged away by his own party from the immigration debate, Mr. King has made repealing the health care law his top priority.
“I won’t change,” he said. “I never have thought there are enough people like me here.”
TWT Video Picks
By Isaac Orr
New carbon-dioxide rules would put America in the dark
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors