Jeff King, a top political aide to his father and Iowa powerbroker, Rep. Steve King, has signed on with the super PAC supporting Ted Cruz, the organization confirmed to CNN Friday.
In what could be a signal for who his father — one of Iowa’s most coveted endorsements — could eventually support, Jeff King is now consulting for one of the four main super PACs supporting Cruz, Keep the Promise I. That group, funded almost entirely by New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer, launched its first advertisements this week and unveiled some of the operatives that will execute the group’s paid-media campaign.
Super PACs have traditionally limited their work to exclusively television advertisements, but the independent groups are increasingly turning their focus this cycle to get-out-the-vote programs in early-voting states. The Cruz campaign and its allies believe he needs to earn a top billing in the Hawkeye State, where Cruz appears stuck in the polls despite the state lending itself well to Cruz’s evangelicalism.
Key to a Cruz win could be the support of Steve King, one of the state’s four congressman and perhaps Capitol Hill’s leading anti-immigration voice. King and Cruz are close friends and have appeared together as the senator stumped across the state, but King has relished the role he could play as a kingmaker in the state.
In fields and on stages across Iowa in June, King lavished praise on the Texas senator but declined to endorse him: “We’re in the business also of making a recommendation to the rest of the country,” King said on a baseball diamond as Cruz looked on.
Jeff King has managed and chaired his dad’s congressional campaigns, and his support is the latest sign for which way his father may be leaning. King will help the super PAC with “messaging and grassroots engagement in Iowa,” said Kristina Hernandez, a spokeswoman for Keep the Promise I.
She added that the group was “very happy to have (King) on the team.”
Cruz’s groups have raised $38 million — including $11 million from Mercer, $10 million from Houston oil investor Toby Neugebauer, and $15 million from the Wilks family of West Texas. But compared to the super PACs allied with rival campaigns, the pro-Cruz groups have spent virtually none of the money they raised, raising some anticipation over what precisely they plan to do with the surprisingly large money haul.
Keep the Promise I this week bought advertising time for two digital spots that together were the first independent expenditures by the Cruz groups. They also announced that Kellaynne Conway, a pollster who works with grassroots organizations, would lead that particular outside spender.
The Cruz super PACs are expected to emphasize “wedge issues” that could draw contrasts between Cruz and other Republicans painted as insufficiently conservative.