Rick Sanders considering a bid in 4th Congressional District

Robbie Sequeira Special to the Herald

Story County Supervisor Rick Sanders is considering a challenge to incumbent Republican Congressman Steve King, saying the nine-term congressman “isn’t bringing the matters and concerns of the people in the 4th Congressional District to the table.”

Sanders, an Ames Republican who was re-elected to the Story County Board of Supervisors in November, said his decision whether to run would come “in the next few weeks, not months.”

If he decides to enter the race to represent Iowa’s 4th District in Washington, Sanders would join Republican State Sen. Randy Feenstra, who announced his plans to challenge King in the June 2, 2020 primary, on Wednesday. Feenstra represents Iowa’s 2nd Senate District, which includes Cherokee, O’Brien, Plymouth and Sioux counties.

Some believe King is vulnerable following a close race in November in which he defeated Democrat J.D. Scholten in the Republican leaning district. After the election, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said King should consider whether he is representing the interests of his constituents.

Sanders, who prospective run was first reported by the political blog Bleeding Heartland, said he will continue meetings with political consultants and residents in the 4th District before making a decision.

“There’s a strong desire and a very real consideration of making a run in 2020,” said Sanders. “But I want to do my due diligence and iron out the feasibility of a strong campaign.” The current Story County Board of Supervisor plans to continue meeting with political consultants and faces among the vast landscape of Iowa’s 4th District before making a final decision.

Factoring in a potential Sanders run, the GOP primary for the 4th District seat could be one of the more contentious primary races in the 2020 campaign season.

Iowa’s 4th Congressional District covers the northwestern part of the state, with cities like Ames, Sioux City, Mason City, Fort Dodge, Boone and Carroll under its umbrella.

According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI), which measures how strongly a congressional district leans toward the Democrat or Republican Party, Iowa’s 4th Congressional District holds a plus 11 advantage for the GOP.

For Sanders, a potential congressional bid means representing both supporters and detractors alike.

“Politics has been played like too much of a team sport, we need representatives who represent those who voted for them as well as representing those who voted against them,” Sanders. “The 4th Congressional District representative needs to be someone who represents all Iowans.”

As he works out the financial and foundational logistics of a potential bid, Sanders sees unbelievable growth opportunities in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.

“If you see the advancements that Story County has undergone in the past few years - the same financial, technological, economic growth is possible in this District,” he said.

Sanders was appointed to the Board of Supervisors in 2010, subsequently being elected to that office later that same year and in 2014. He won another term in 2018, finishing second in a four-way field for two at-large seats.

King has come under fire throughout his time in Congress for inflammatory remarks made about immigrants. The staunch defender of gun rights and pro-life advocate, also was criticized by some before last fall’s election for an interview he did with a white supremacist and anti-semitic website, and mentioned the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. He has made national headlines for endorsing a Toronto mayoral candidate with neo-Nazi ties and for meeting with a far-right Austrian party accused of trivializing the Holocaust.

On Thursday, King defended himself against a New York Times article in which he was quoted saying, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

After the article published, King issued a statement calling himself a “nationalist” and defending his support of “western civilization’s values,” and said he was not an advocate for “white nationalism and white supremacy.” “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define,” he wrote.