Steve King, the most overtly racist member of Congress, wins competitive bid for re-election in Iowa

It was previously revealed that King keeps a Confederate flag in his office

Published November 7, 2018 1:32AM (EST)

Steve King   (AP/Charlie Neibergall)
Steve King (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

Republicans have not yet turned their backs on Rep. Steve King, the most overtly racist member of Congress. The Iowa congressman withstood a competitive bid for re-election against Democratic rival J.D. Scholten in Iowa's 4th Congressional District. The race was called by the New York Times, with King leading with 49.2 percent of the vote to 48.3 percent for his Democratic challenger.

King's hardline ideas on immigration and apparent white nationalist views came under intense scrutiny from lawmakers across the political spectrum and reduced his polling advantage over Scholten, a former professional baseball player. “We’ve reached the tipping point with guys like Steve King. He’s no longer palatable to people who may agree with him. They don’t like the racism. They don’t like the overt demagoguery,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) while making a pitch for King's opponent.

One day before Election Day, King made a homophobic joke that the two women Supreme Court judges appointed by former President Barack Obama — Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — should elope to Cuba. Also on Monday, King attacked the National Republican Congressional Committee for backing an LGBTQ 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," he 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, such as endorsing a white nationalist running for mayor of Toronto and arguing that non-whites are superior to whites. 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 saying 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, costing him corporate boosters, including Land O'Lakes and Purina, as well as the endorsement of the Sioux City Journal. They also made his re-election campaign against Scholten much tighter than might have otherwise been expected in a traditionally-red district.

King has attracted negative attention since the 2016 election for expressing support for far-right politicians such as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Dutch politician Geert Wilders. He has also attempted to block the addition of Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill and argued that he is not worried about non-whites outnumbering whites, because "I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens."

King insisted just last year that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," making clear that he opposes all immigration — not just people who cross the border illegally. He also claimed that only white people had made meaningful contributions to human civilization.

It was previously revealed that King keeps a Confederate flag in his office.

By Shira Tarlo

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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

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Democrats Gop Iowa Republicans Steve King