With two Republicans already putting things in motion for 2020 primary campaigns against Congressman Steve King, Story County Supervisor Rick Sanders said he’s still considering challenging the nine-term congressman.
“I’m smack in the middle of fully exploring it,” Sanders said. “i’m taking maybe a little different path than others. I want to do this, I’m committed to doing it, but I don’t want to do it if it’s not a feasible campaign. I’m having conversations with anybody and everybody who is willing to talk to me right now. Then we’ll make a decision based on what I’ve learned from those conversations.”
State Senator Randy Feenstra officially announced his campaign last week. Businessman Bret Richards said Monday he’s officially in as well.
“This is earlier than I thought things would get going,” Sanders said. “I was looking originally more at kind of spring of this year. Clearly others are making, I think, decision before they’ve really checked to see what the lay of the land is. More power to ’em, but I want to do my due diligence before I make any kind of final decision.”
Sanders is running for the position because he believes King is failing to represent the entire Fourth District.
“I don’t believe that the Fourth District has a representative right now who spends his time focusing on the Fourth District of Iowa,” Sanders said. “I’ve been a supporter of Congressman King, even at times it was maybe a little tough to support him with some of the ways he says things and things like that.
“Over the last election cycle, I really felt like Congressman King abandoned, particularly, my part of the district over here in Story County and those of us in the central part of the state. I really felt like he forgot about us and didn’t represent us like I would hope our representative would do. I think it’s time for new representation.”
Though Sanders firmly believes he is the right person to challenge King, he wants to see what others say.
“I want to talk to a lot of other people and really gauge what they’re feeling,” he said. “My meetings so far, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a couple dozen individuals. Primarily those who have been pretty active in Republican politics both from a donation point of view and activist point of view. It’s been unbelievably favorable responses to this point.”
He’s proud of his record as a Story County Supervisor, he said. He’s been on the board since 2010. According to Sanders, the county has built more roads and bridges during his tenure on the board than it did the previous 30 years. The county was more than $6.2 million upside down, he said. It was spending $1.20 for every $1 it brought in. Now it’s spending 99 cents for every $1 brought in.
“If I decide to run, that’s what I’ll run on,” Sanders said. “We’re the only county in Iowa to truly balance our budget every single year the last six years. We’re actually spending less today in Story County than any of the three years before I joined the Board — that’s a decade ago. We’re still spending less today.”
But the Board won’t be spending less, for long.
“I’ll tell you this, we’re not going to be spending less in the future simply because of the makeup of the board,” he said. “It’s taken a decided shift to the Left down here.”
And for that, Sanders blames King.
“I hold Congressman King responsible for the decided shift to the Left we’ve made in Story County,” he said.
If Sanders were going to mold himself after someone with recent history in Congress, he said it’d be former Congressman Tom Latham.
“(Latham) served for I think 20 years or thereabouts,” Sanders said. “I always felt like no matter what he was working on, he was keeping the old Fourth District at the top of his vine. My viewpoint is it’s our responsibility to work with anybody and everybody, regardless of views, Party affiliation or anything if what they’re doing is good for the Fourth District and the people of the Fourth District. I don’t believe we have that right now.”
Sanders believes the right representative in Congress could help other areas in the Fourth District rediscover its Republican roots.
“Back when we had five districts and Congressman Latham, central Iowa was a core for him and we lost it,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to put the pieces back together where we’re not just relying on one section of the Fourth District. We need the whole Fourth District responding or ultimately we’re going to lose our last stronghold on the state of Iowa.”
He expects to make a decision in the coming weeks, he said.