DES MOINES — Republicans in northwest Iowa ousted Rep. Steve King in Tuesday’s primary, deciding they’ve had enough of his incendiary comments about immigrants and white supremacy throughout his nearly two decades in Congress.
The nine-term congressman, shunned by his party leadership in Washington and many of his longtime supporters at home, lost to well-funded state Sen. Randy Feenstra in a five-way GOP primary. The challengers argued that King’s loss of clout, even more than the continuous string of provocative and racially-charged statements over his career, was reason enough for turning on him. Three other Republicans — Jeremy Taylor, Bret Richards and Steven Reeder — were trailing King.
ELECTION RESULTS: See primary results from other county and state races
King was stripped of his committee assignments in 2018 for comments appearing to question the criticism of white nationalism in an era of increased sensitivity among Republicans nationally about the alt-right and white supremacists. The congressman also made controversial remarks through the years about immigrants, Islam and abortion.
Establishment Republicans suggested the state’s lone GOP-held U.S. House seat would likely remain in the party’s hands, while a King primary victory could have jeopardized the seat by setting up a rematch with J.D. Scholten, the Democrat who came within 2 percentage points of beating King two years ago.
King has been vastly outspent by Feenstra and conservative groups backing him, including onetime King backer National Right to Life, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group.
Yet the crowded field, which includes a former county supervisor and two businessmen, could benefit King by siphoning supporting from Feenstra. To avoid a nominating convention, a winning primary candidate must receive at least 35 percent of the vote.