Racist Rep. Steve King refuses to abandon his bid for re-election, even though he's supposedly broke

King is reportedly struggling to attract donors and has been largely abandoned by the GOP after another controversy

Published August 26, 2019 10:14AM (EDT)

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

As he faces his most challenging path to re-election, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is reportedly struggling to attract donors and has been largely abandoned by Republicans in Congress in the wake of his latest bout of controversy — this time comments he made about abortion.

King, a nine-term congressman, has not received a single donation this year from political action committees (PACs) associated with his colleagues in Congress, according to the Daily Beast. He also has not received any donations from corporate PACs or interest groups. During the first six months of the year, King received only two contributions from third-party political entities: $2,000 from PACs associated with former GOP Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Todd Akin of Missouri.

King will be the most vulnerable he has ever been in 2020. Next year, he will again face off against J.D. Scholten, the Democrat who came within 3 points of unseating him last cycle. Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra is seeking to force King out of the GOP primary. Feenstra's campaign reported having $337,314 cash on hand in June, while King reported just $18,365, the Daily Beast reported.

The GOP's decision to abandon King is notable, although not unexpected. He has a long and documented history of making racist and offensive remarks, and he lost nearly any clout he still had within his party earlier this year after he asked why the terms "white supremacy" and "white nationalism" were considered offensive.

His comments were widely condemned, even from within his own party. The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, called for his resignation, and House Republican leaders stripped him of his committee assignments. Losing his committee assignments has left King without the influence in Congress which interests perspective donors.

In recent weeks, King has come under mounting scrutiny for questioning whether there would be any population if not for rape or incest. He made the remarks as he explained his opposition for exceptions for rape and incest in anti-abortion legislation.

"It's not the baby's fault," King said. "What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?"

"Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that's taken place, and whatever happened to culture after society, I know that I can't certify that I'm not a product of that," he added. "And I'd like to think every one of the lives of us are as precious as any other life."

King has doubled down on his controversial remarks amid the backlash, arguing that abortion should be prohibited in all cases to protect minorities. He has also sought to defend himself by blaming the scandal on a "misquote."

"The misinformation bounced across the countryside," King said Friday at a town hall in his home state. "It was a misquote. That misquote was retracted. It was replaced with an accurate quote but that didn't stop the epidemic around America."

Two news outlets did issue a correction after publishing King's remarks, but his comments about rape and incest were reported accurately.

King has also taken aim at Republicans in Congress who criticized his statements, arguing those who support abortion in the cases of rape and incest are just making a "political calculation that they need for political purposes."

Even as he finds himself strapped for cash and abandoned by his GOP colleagues, King vowed nothing would keep him from running for a tenth term next year. Asked by last week by the Washington Examiner if there is any possibility he would carry out the wishes of GOP leaders in Washington and Iowa by stepping down in 2020, King said: "No, unless I'm dead. That's the only circumstance."

By Shira Tarlo

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