Government

Steve King relishes narrow victory

FILE PHOTO: Republican Rep. Steve King talks to voters at the Second Street Emporium restaurant in Webster City, Iowa, U.S. November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
FILE PHOTO: Republican Rep. Steve King talks to voters at the Second Street Emporium restaurant in Webster City, Iowa, U.S. November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

SIOUX CITY — After narrowly avoiding the first election loss in his long career, Rep. Steve King took to the podium early Wednesday to thank his supporters for standing behind him as he weathered a deluge of vicious political attacks.

“We may have lost in a landslide if it weren’t for prayer,” the Republican 4th District U.S. House representative told a crowd of more than 100 at the Stoney Creek Inn in Sioux City.

In a defiant victory speech, King lashed out at his critics, who he said attempted to “Kavanaugh-ize me, like this state has never seen, and like maybe America has never seen,” he said in reference to Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court nomination hearings.

King, an eight-term incumbent widely known for his outspoken views on illegal immigration and Western civilization, spent the final days of his campaign defending his remarks on race and support for political candidates and parties with ties to white supremacy.

King, an eight-term incumbent widely known for his outspoken views on illegal immigration and Western civilization, spent the final days of his campaign defending his remarks on race and support for political candidates and parties with ties to white supremacy.

His Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, seized on the issue, arguing King carried more about international politics than the concerns of voters in northwest and north-central Iowa. The first-time candidate attracted national attention and millions of dollars of out-of-state campaign contributions in the last weeks of the campaign.

Two years after scoring a 23-point win over his Democratic opponent, King won Tuesday by just 10,500 votes, or 50 percent to 47 percent, in a district with 70,000 more Republican voters than Democrats. Scholten carried six counties, including the five most populous — Woodbury, Cerro Gordo, Story, Webster and Boone. The sixth was Floyd.

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But King held on in a night when two of the other two congressional seats in Iowa were flipped. Democratic challengers Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer knocked off incumbent Republicans David Young and Rod Blum, respectively. Democrat Dave Loebsack defeated Christopher Peters in Iowa’s 2nd District.

The victory was the tightest of King’s career. His only other scare came in 2012 when he beat Christie Vilsack, wife of former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, 53 percent to 45 percent.

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