Remember how, in the run-up to Iowa’s caucuses, Rep. Steve King of Iowa endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz, anti-ethanol mandate crusader? And remember how in the run up to the caucuses, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, his son-- ethanol’s #1 paid cheerleader-- and a host of other establishment types were signaling that they’d rather Donald Trump win than Cruz because of their desire to maintain regulatory subsidies creating an artificial market for their precious corn juice?
Well, King and Cruz won, and the Branstads, Trump, and the pro-mandate establishment crowd lost. And now, the pro-mandate establishment crowd is back for revenge.
Meet State Sen. Rick Bertrand. He’s probably a nice guy, but he also appears to be running to take down Rep. King largely to try to put him in his place for backing Cruz, the anti-mandate guy. Bertrand is making lots of noise about standing up for Iowa on agricultural policy (read ethanol mandates, which by the way, King actually supports). From the Des Moines Register:
“[Bertrand] described a new economic vision that solidifies Iowa's agricultural standing in the world while embracing the renewable fuels industry.
King created enemies within the Iowa Republican Party during the recent Iowa caucus presidential campaign by endorsing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has strongly opposed the federal government's pro-ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS requires transportation fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels, and Cruz says it should be phased out.”
Bertrand is promising to give King a run for his money. I’m not so sure about that. First, he doesn’t have much time to amass support before the primary. Second, as noted above, while King endorsed Cruz who opposes ethanol mandates, King actually supports them. Maybe that would be a good rationale for primarying King, but it’s not Bertrand’s. And Bertrand has some other problems, too, including that apparently, last year, he voted for a gas tax increase.
Given that polling in the run-up to Iowa showed that support for ethanol mandates just wasn’t vitally important for GOP caucus-goers, and that staunch opposition to tax increases usually is a life-and-death matter in Republican primaries, I’m going to guess that this might be another challenge for Bertrand.
But we shall see. The unfortunate reality for staunch believers in the free market is that whoever wins this primary, an advocate for the ethanol mandate will continue to occupy this congressional seat, no matter how pissed off the establishment may be about King’s Cruz endorsement. Go figure.