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King Bertrand GOP Debate

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks during the 4th District Republican primary debate at Morningside College's Eppley Auditorium in June 2016.

While we have made no secret of our reservations about U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, we also have written often in this space of what we admire about our sometimes-controversial congressman.

He is a principled family man possessed of deep roots in our congressional district, intelligence, analytical skills, a firm grasp of issues important to his constituents, honesty and integrity.  We believe King reflects the values and wishes of most 4th District constituents and he champions district sectors, priorities, and initiatives, such as agriculture and the renewable fuels industry.

As we have said before, if you spend time in discussion of issues with King - as we have on many occasions - you see a picture at odds with what we believe is the incomplete view of the man outside this district.

In short, we believe King's strengths as a representative for the 4th District outweigh his weaknesses.

For these reasons, we believe he is the stronger choice for our district than his Democratic opponent, Kim Weaver of Sheldon. Today, The Journal endorses incumbent Republican King for re-election to an eighth term in the U.S. House.

These are, we believe, King shortcomings upon which our congressman should work to improve moving forward:

He is too rigidly partisan. He too often engages in inflammatory rhetoric. He risks marginalization within the House by warring with leadership. He at times seems too interested in making a national name for himself (on the issue of illegal immigration, for example). He spends too much time focused on moving the nation to the political right. Oh, and he, inexplicably, keeps a Confederate flag on his congressional office desk.

In June, we detailed some of those King criticisms in an endorsement of his Republican primary opponent, State Sen. Rick Bertrand of Sioux City. Because of his conservative positions on domestic issues, including economic and social issues, combined with more collegiality than King practices and a more pragmatic approach to lawmaking than King possesses, we viewed Bertrand as a viable alternative for GOP voters of this district.

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However, we acknowledge this reality: The fact King defeated Bertrand easily, 65 to 35 percent, speaks volumes about the support he continues to enjoy among Republicans of the largely Republican 4th after nearly 14 years in Washington.

As for Weaver, a first-time candidate for public office, we are impressed. She is a personable, informed, articulate candidate possessed of a broad record of public service experience in Iowa through her work for the state Department of Human Services and the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Should she lose this race, we encourage her to remain engaged in discussion of state and federal issues and look for other opportunities to run for public office, perhaps at the local or state level.

Finally, we end with this observation: It's a shame voters of the 4th won't get the opportunity to see King and Weaver side by side on a debate stage. Simply put, having no debate between the two candidates for our congressional district's U.S. House seat should be unacceptable to all constituents, regardless of party affiliation, and is a future scenario all candidates for this office, including King, should prevent.

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