A King Hell Coalition

In noting that Steve King has reportedly decided to be a Big Deal in the 2016 presidential nominating contest, the thought has certainly crossed my mind that the extremist-for-all-seasons from Iowa might be especially attracted to the extremist-for-all-seasons from Texas. I’m not the only one, it seems (per National Journal‘s Tim Alberta):

When Cruz came to Washington in January 2013, he and King were unacquainted. Quickly, however, they become steadfast allies and regular collaborators. Their staffs are in constant communication. They meet regularly to discuss strategy and brief one another on activity in their respective chambers. They once shared a five-hour steak dinner, discussing Constitutional restraint well after the lights had been shut off at the Capital Grille. And they have spent significant time together in Iowa, home to the first presidential nominating contest in 2016—a state where King’s blessing could legitimize Cruz’s run for the White House.

Iowa’s own right-wing radio agitator, Steve Deace, suggests Cruz may meet the “viability” test flunked in 2012 by King’s boon companion Michele Bachmann:

“He’s had close friends run for president before—Duncan Hunter and Michele Bachmann—and chose not to endorse them when they ran,” said Steve Deace, an Iowa radio host and conservative activist who has known King for years. “If you can’t show you’re going to be a viable candidate, he will not put his political capital behind you.”

King learned that lesson after endorsing Fred Thompson’s doomed candidacy in 2008, and according to Deace and others, has since determined that ideological affinity isn’t enough. For someone to earn his endorsement in 2016, the candidate must meet King’s policy requirements—tough on immigration, outspoken on social issues, and hawkish on fiscal policy—while showing an ability to actually win the GOP nomination.

“Cruz meets every single one of those check marks for Steve King,” Deace said. “He didn’t use his political capital in 2012, and he may never again get this opportunity to get a true movement conservative as the nominee of his party. So I wouldn’t be surprised at all if King felt that this is the Iowa caucus cycle where he’s going to go all-in.”

The very idea of a Steve King/Ted Cruz coalition rolling through the early nomination contest states is kind of scary. I can nearly smell the brimstone already.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.