Steve King ends troubled campaign with homophobic joke: Justices "Kagan and Sotomayor will elope"

The Iowa congressman is well-known for his sympathies for his virulently racist views — but he's also homophobic

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 6, 2018 2:01PM (EST)

Steve King (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Steve King (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Steve King, a Republican whose sympathies for white nationalist views have led to him keeping a Confederate flag in his office despite representing a former Union state (Iowa), joked on Monday that the two Supreme Court judges appointed by President Barack Obama should elope to Cuba.

At a rally in the Iowa community of Hampton, King predicted Republicans will prevail in the midterm elections and as a result "we’ll have a 7-2 court." As The Washington Post reported, King joked that one possible cause of such a bench is that "Kagan and Sotomayor will elope to Cuba."

Later that day King appeared at an event with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who like King is locked in a very tight race for reelection. Reynolds' Democratic challenger, Fred Hubbell, tweeted in response to King's comments that "instead of removing Steve King as your co-chair, you close your campaign standing beside him.The message is clear: you stand with Steve King’s actions."

Also on Monday, King attacked the National Republican Congressional Committee for backing a homosexual candidate.

"They sent money over to support a candidate in a primary in California who had a same-sex partner that they put all over glossy mailers...That's hard to write a check to those guys when they do that," King told an audience.

King's feud with the NRCC can be traced back to a decision by that organization's chairman, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, to unequivocally denounce comments made by the Iowa congressman endorsing a white nationalist running for mayor of Toronto as well as arguing that non-whites are superior to whites and that a "Great Replacement" of whites with non-whites is in the process of occurring.

Stivers responded to King's controversial statements by tweeting that "Congressman Steve King's recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior." King later replied by tweeting a statement that "these attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news media. Their ultimate goal is to flip the House and impeach Donald Trump. Establishment Never Trumpers are complicit."

King's racist views have done more than hurt him among the Republican Party establishment. They also cost him the support of major sponsors including Land O'Lakes and Purina, as well as the endorsement of the Sioux City Journal, and have made his reelection campaign against Democratic candidate J. D. Scholten much closer than might have otherwise been expected in a traditionally red district. Yet King has attracted negative attention since the 2016 election for retweeting a neo-Nazi and expressing support for far right politicians like Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Dutch politician Geert Wilders, as well as attempting to block the addition of Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill and arguing that he isn't worried about non-whites outnumbering whites because "I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2018 Midterm Elections Elena Kagan Fred Hubbell J.d. Scholten Kim Reynolds Sonia Sotomayor Steve King