Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey has thrown his support to a candidate in a contested Republican congressional primary, giving his nod to U.S. Rep. Steve King amid his battle with state Sen. Rick Bertrand.
The big political race in Iowa over the next two months is the Iowa 4th congressional district contest between Bertrand, of Sioux City, and King, of Kiron. Northey gave his endorsement of King during the 4th District convention Saturday in Fort Dodge.
Northey is the first federal or state officeholder to weigh in on the Bertrand-King race. He lives in Spirit Lake, which is part of the 4th District.
The endorsement is notable, as considerable attention is being given to where Iowans with agriculture-industry and farming ties come down in the contest between the seven-term congressman and Bertrand.
Several people tweeted about the endorsement, including Craig Robinson, who leads The Iowa Republican website: "IA Sec of AG @BNorthey gives a full throated endorsement of Congressman Steve @SteveKingIA at 4th District Convention. Standing ovation."
Northey retweeted that Robinson tweet. Northey also retweeted another tweet that showed a picture of he and King shaking hands in Fort Dodge. King's campaign has not put out a release with details on the endorsement, as that may happen later Monday.
In a Friday interview with the Journal, King demurred on whether he expected the state's leading Republicans of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, Gov. Terry Branstad or Northey to get involved with endorsements in the 4th District race.
"I am gonna play those cards fairly close to the vest," King said.
Bertrand has previously said he expects to announce many officeholders joining his team as the campaign goes on. Bertrand was not at the district convention in Fort Dodge, where many key grassroots Republicans from the 39 counties of the 4th District met.
Update: In a 3:30 p.m. Monday release, King thanked Northey for the endorsement.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Iowa’s top ag official,” King said. “I have worked closely with Secretary Northey on a variety of issues including the Farm Bill, renewable fuels, and opposition to over-regulation. I respect Bill’s leadership as well as his vision for our state.”