SIOUX CITY | Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, by far the longest-tenured member of Iowa's congressional delegation, has thrown his support behind incumbent Rep. Steve King in a contested GOP primary for the 4th District seat.
King is being challenged by state Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City. Grassley told the Journal he is supporting King in the June 7 primary election.
“I’ve supported Congressman King in his previous elections and I’ve been supporting him in this election," Grassley said in a statement.
With more than four decades in state and federal office, Grassley is well-regarded by Iowa Republicans, so his endorsement is a boon for King with less than two months before the primary. King also received a coveted endorsement from Republican Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, during the 4th District convention in Fort Dodge.
Grassley's spokeswoman, Beth Pellett said the Grassley endorsement of King was similar to when he supported an incumbent in a Republican primary more than two decades ago. During the 1994 high-profile party battle for governor, Grassley backed Gov. Terry Branstad over Fred Grandy, who was then a Northwest Iowa congressman.
King's team did not announce the Grassley endorsement. King demurred last week in a Journal interview on whether he would get endorsements from the state's top elected officials.
"I am going to play those cards fairly close to the vest," he said.
King has won seven terms in the U.S. House, first in the former 5th District and the last two times in the new 4th District, which spans 39 counties in Northwest and northcentral Iowa.
Bertand, a Sioux City commercial developer, has won two terms in the Iowa Senate and has previously said he anticipates announcing notable lawmaker endorsements.
Kim Weaver, of Sheldon, is the sole Democratic candidate in the 4th District field.
Grassley is seeking his seventh, six-term term in the Senate this year.
Iowa's other U.S. senator, Republican Joni Ernst, has not weighed in with an endorsement of King or Bertrand. Ernst's team did not immediately respond to inquiries Thursday.