JOHNSTON — It was 12 years ago that he went through the process, but U.S. Rep. Steve King says the rules for nominating a congressional candidate by convention “allow for too many things that make me a little nervous.”
“You know, I may want to wait until after the convention to put a final word on that,” King said when asked whether a nominating convention is the best way to select a candidate if no one gets at least 35 percent of the primary election vote as required by state law.
Iowa 3rd District Republicans will meet June 21 to choose a nominee because none of the six candidates running met the 35 percent threshold.
Staci Appel of Ackworth was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
King, who is running for re-election in Iowa’s 4th District, is the last Iowa congressman who was nominated by convention. He was the top vote-getter in the 2002 primary but failed to get 35 percent of the vote. He won the nomination on the third ballot at the district convention.
The 35 percent threshold “makes sure that you nominate someone who is a fairly strong candidate,” King said Friday during a taping of “Iowa Press.” “But I would rather go to a runoff rather than a special nominating convention.”
Conventions are unpredictable, King said, someone who was not even on the primary ballot could be nominated.
For the top vote-getter, he said, the convention is “like a game of king of the hill — everybody is trying to pull you off” and looking to make deals to win delegate support.
Time hasn’t changed King’s mind that he made the right decision in seeking re-election rather than running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin.
“I won’t say that I haven’t run it back through my mind,” he said after the taping.
He agreed that Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley looked to be a much stronger candidate then than he does today.
“But I would have been a reluctant candidate,” King said. “My head was there, my gut was uneasy and my heart wasn’t in it.
“Joni Ernst will be an enthusiastic candidate,” King said, “and I’m enthusiastically behind Joni Ernst.”
How to watch
•What: U.S. Rep. Steve King on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press.”
•When: 8:30 a.m. ► Saturday ◄ today on IPTV World, ► Iowa Press airs tonight at 7:30 p.m. and ◄ noon Sunday on Iowa Public Television.
•Online: The show also is available at iptv.org.