DES MOINES, Iowa — Doug Alexander is waging a campaign against U.S. Rep. Steve King, but the 65-year-old businessman from the Great Lakes region of northwest Iowa isn’t seeking office.

If the campaign is for anyone, it’s Alexander’s three sons — who aren’t old enough to vote.

Alexander is running a political advertising effort across Iowa’s archconservative 4th Congressional District with the goal of calling attention to King’s long record of inflammatory statements on matters of race, immigration and culture and shaming voters into reconsidering their support.

The objective is summed up in the title of the website he’s developed for the effort.

“I want people to think about it before they pull the lever,” Alexander told the Des Moines Register in an interview.

He’s doing it on his own and without support or advice from any candidate, party or political organization.

Beyond the website, the effort so far includes a digital advertising campaign and three full-color, campaign-style flyers. Alexander said the effort will continue through the year.

Neither King, who has sailed to re-election since 2002, nor his re-election campaign provided comment on the effort, despite repeated requests from the Register.

Alexander bought a list of independent and potentially persuadable Republicans across the district, and said each of the mailers have reached some 20,000 of them.

The first identified the Republican congressman, depicted with an illustrated crown on his head, as the “The King of failure.”

“Steve King is terrible at his job,” it reads. “Since 2003, Steve King has been paid over $2 million by taxpayers. All we’ve gotten in return in embarrassment, shame and an endless stream of white supremacy.”

Alexander owns an international trading company, and met his wife during his business travels in China. She’s now a naturalized U.S. citizen, and they have three sons aged 17, 15 and 13.

The boys — “my guys,” he calls them — are musicians, playing in a trio well-known in the Great Lakes region, and sailors-in-training, their father said, with their eyes on the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

It was King’s March, 2017, comments about “somebody else’s babies” — in which the he suggested immigration threatened Western civilization — that set Alexander down the path that culminated in this campaign.

“You ask anybody in this area, my children are anything but the demise of our culture,” Alexander said, seething at the idea that his representative would question his children’s value.

“I can’t let that go,” he said. “I am stuck on it.”

Alexander described himself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal, with a long history voting split tickets.

He said his investment ultimately will “push the upper limits of five-figures.” According to federal campaign reports, Alexander has spent $22,000 on the effort as of early February.

Activists from both parties, though, are skeptical at best his efforts will change the political dynamics in the district.

Dickinson County GOP Chairman David Rowley said he’s heard little about Alexander’s efforts and doubts they’ll change the mind of anyone otherwise primed to vote Republican.

“The sort of stuff that gets printed about Steve King is so off-base, and I honestly believe anyone who sits down with the congressman and has a one-on-one conversation with him knows that,” he said.

Woodbury County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Dumkrieger was skeptical, too. When it comes to opinions on King, he said, “people’s stakes are firmly planted in the ground.”

“It might just let some people out there know they’re not alone in their disgust and their anger, whatever their party is,” he said.

Indeed, the 4th District is strongly — perhaps unassailably — Republican, and King does not appear to face a viable primary challenge in 2018.

Cyndi Hanson, a community college administrator from Sioux City, declared her candidacy in the GOP race last November. She remains virtually unknown in the district, and in the early weeks of her campaign reported raising just $2,000 in a single donation from a family member.

Four Democrats are also running in the district, although the ultimate nominee will face long odds in the November general election. Current voter registration data shows 48,000 more Republicans in the district than Democrats; King won re-election in 2016 by almost 22 percentage points.

Whatever the odds, Alexander is undeterred. The motives, he acknowledges, are less political than paternal.

“The point is that they know that this is my battle on their behalf,” Alexander said of his sons. “They know that they’ll have plenty of their own battles to fight in their lives ahead of them, so I’m just trying to give them an example and some guidance on how to behave and how to act.”


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

An AP Member Exchange shared by The Des Moines Register.