Politics & Policy

Steve King Loses Republican Primary after White Supremacy Comments

Republican Representative Steve King holds a Town Hall at the Grundy Center Community Center in Grundy Center, Iowa, August 17, 2019. (Brenna Norman/Reuters)

Republican Representative Steve King, whose comments about white supremacy earned him the condemnation of many members of his party last year, lost his primary bid early Wednesday morning.

The nine-term Iowa congressman lost the race to state Senator Randy Feenstra.

“I called Randy Feenstra a little bit ago and conceded the race to him,” King said in a video message posted to Facebook on Wednesday. “And I pointed out that there’s some powerful elements in the swamp that he’s going to have an awfully hard time pushing back against them.”

“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support over the past 17 months that made tonight possible and I thank Congressman King for his decades of public service,” Feenstra said in a statement after his victory.

In a New York Times interview in January of last year, King asked, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Republicans came out swinging against King’s remarks, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the highest ranking House Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Rep. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position,” McConnell told the Washington Post. “If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”

King later tried to explain away the controversy, criticizing the Times for saying he supported an “evil and bigoted ideology” and claiming in a House floor speech that he had merely asked, “How did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue?”

King was stripped of his committee assignments later that month, but an effort to directly censure the embattled congressman fizzled when the censure resolution was referred to the Ethics Committee instead.

King also shocked across party lines in August when he mused during a speech whether humanity would exist if it were not for rape and incest throughout history. He made the remarks while speaking about his opposition to exceptions for abortions in cases of rape and incest.

Feenstra’s platform is similar to King’s in that he supports pro-life policy as well as building a wall at the southern border.

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