House Cleaning

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks to reporters about DACA and immigration legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 6, 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Republican voters in Iowa’s fourth congressional district rejected Rep. Steve King yesterday, with the nine-term incumbent getting a little more than a third of the vote. His defeat was a long time coming.

Conservatives for a long time gave the congressman the benefit of the doubt as he made racially provocative comments, and especially discounted those critics who treated his opposition to immigration as per se racist. But King eventually depleted any trust in him.

He called Mexicans coming to the U.S. “dirt” and then called reporters liars for accurately quoting him. He endorsed the fringe candidacy for Toronto mayor of Faith Goldy, whose CV by that time included reciting the white-supremacist “14 words” on the radio. He did what he could to promote far-right politicians in France, Austria, and the Netherlands. He complained that “white nationalist, white supremacy, Western civilization” had come to be considered “offensive” terms — a comment for which the House censured him and the chamber’s Republicans stripped him of his committee assignments.

Iowa Republicans began to wonder what King’s peculiar and troubling enthusiasm for an Alt-Right Internationale had to do with their priorities. Given the chance to vote for a viable alternative who is a mainstream conservative, they took it. Soon-to-be-representative Randy Feenstra may not generate as many headlines as his predecessor. But being a more effective, and decent, congressman should be feasible.


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