SIOUX CITY | Another top Iowa Republican official has come forward to support U.S. Rep. Steve King in his contested GOP primary with state Sen. Rick Bertrand.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday publicly backed King, a seven-term incumbent from Kiron.
Reynolds said she discussed her endorsement with Gov. Terry Branstad, who she closely works with in the state's executive branch. Branstad earlier said he would remain neutral in the King-Bertrand race.
"I did let him know, as a heads up," Reynolds said in an exclusive interview with the Journal.
Reynolds, a former state senator from southwest Iowa, said King was the best Republican to represent the 4th District, which covers 39 counties in northwest and north central Iowa.
Reynolds said she doesn't usually get involved in contested primaries, but said King has been an effective congressman.
"He has been an effective advocate for his district and for Iowans," Reynolds said of King.
Reynolds said she appreciated his support in 2010. She alluded to a floor flight that year at the state Republican convention, where King ultimately placed her name into nomination for lieutenant governor. The Branstad-Reynolds ticket won election that year and re-election in 2014.
King, an unspoken conservative, also has endorsements from both U.S. Republican senators from Iowa -- Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst -- and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey.
Bertrand came into the race in March in part out of concern for agriculture interests after King in late 2015 endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas.
Cruz doesn't support an extension to the federal Renewable Fuel Standard for corn-based ethanol. That caused Branstad and others to publicly criticize King's pick, with the Republican governor saying Cruz shouldn't be supported by Iowans after his knock on an industry that is so important to the state. Cruz dropped out of the presidential race on Tuesday after a decisive loss in Indiana to presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
Reynolds said King is a strong ethanol backer and since the flap has made "a concerted effort" to let agriculture interests know he supports them.
Bertrand to date has not announced the endorsements of any state or federal leaders, but previously said he will get substantial support from lawmakers. Reynolds said she respects Bertrand's work in the Legislature.
"This is not a reflection on Senator Bertrand at all," she said.
I think Steve has done a good job," Reynolds said.
In a release, King said he appreciated Reynold's endorsement.
“Lt. Gov. Reynolds is authentic and I admire her conservative ideals,” King said.
The sole Democrat running for the Iowa 4th District is Kim Weaver, of Sheldon.