Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Steve King vs. Some Dude

As a good little donkey I should be more excited that Boone veteran and ex-Pentagon official Jim Mowrer has just Officially announced that he's challenging Steve King next year.

But after having my hopes falsely raised and then dashed by Christie Vilsack's failure last year, I just can't get into this announcement, conveniently timed just AFTER the campaign finance report filing deadline.

Don't get me wrong. If I lived in the 4th District I'd happily vote for Jim. He looks like a guy who can hold the party's base vote and, against the extremist King, win over some independents. There's something to be said for the ole Howard Dean 50 State Strategy of running everywhere to build the party. Mowrer will be an asset to the Democratic ticket in a quarter of the state where the game isn't about winning as much as it's about cutting your losses.

But don't anyone pretend, as Jim Mowrer says in the inevitable fund raising email, "that we are going to stand united and strong to win next November."

I'll just let Steve say it himself:  “I faced $7 million, the best of everything Democrats can throw at me, their dream candidate and everything that can come from the Obama machine, and prevailed through all of that with 55 percent of my district that was new.” If Christie Vilsack, in the Democrat friendly cycle of 2012, couldn't beat King, it won't happen.

It won't happen in a primary either. King was even paired up in redistricting, but it was Tom Latham who moved rather than King. There's no room on King's right for a primary challenge and no critical mass in any Republican primary anymore for a challenge from the center.

Steve King was recently voted by Democrats the "most clueless member of Congress." As the great philosopher Alicia Silverstone once said, WhatEVer. King's smart enough to stay put in a safe red House seat, smart enough to resist the begging of the Republican base to run for Senate.

King says a lot of things that are extreme, sure, but that's different than "clueless" statements, like the Texas legislator who seems to believe a "rape kit" is emergency contraception rather than evidence collection, or Alaska's Don Young dropping a "wetback" bomb. Somehow Steve never quite makes that kind of error. He makes you fill in the gaps yourself.

It's bloody clear that King's "Rule Of Law" and "No Amnesty" rhetoric on immigration reform is dog whistle code for the mass deportation of 11 million undocumented Americans, as a means to the end of a mono-cultural mono-lingual Don't Make Me Press 1 For English America. But he never quite says it. He's smart enough not to unleash the shitstorm of politically correct righteous indignation that would descend on him.

His supporters know what he really means. They're not dumb, either. Narrow-minded in many cases, perhaps even bigoted, but smart enough to know what you're not supposed to say, and maybe a little more cautious post-Paula Deen. Indeed, King's elliptical strategy probably makes them feel smarter just because they're left to figure it out themselves.

In both his decision to stay put and his ability to keep his rhetoric close to but not quite outside the limits, King has proven himself smarter than the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks and Sharron Angles, Republicans  who have lost races their parties should have won, the kinds of races Democrats need to have a Jim Mowrer type ready for just in case someone says or does something stupid.

Sure, lefties, you hate Steve King so much that you want to put your money into it. That instinct funded the lost causes of Rob Hubler in 2008 and Matt Campbell in 2010. The triage of politics is cruel. Even in the post Citizens United era, resources are finite. Every dollar given to a great guy running against an evil SOB in an unwinnable district is a dollar that doesn't go to a close legislative race.

As a young candidate taking on a big task, and as this post proves a thankless task, Mowrer may have a good future ahead. Paul Shomshor went on to four legislative terms after losing to King in 2002. So go ahead and send that money if you want, but understand that it's a long-range investment that won't pay off in 2014.

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