Steve King loses primary after racist comments

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, attends a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

“I called Randy Feenstra some time ago and gave him the race,” King said in a video posted on Facebook early Wednesday morning. “And I pointed out that there are some powerful elements in the swamp that will have a tremendously difficult time to push them back.”

The main struggle was an undeniable referendum on King, not on his conservatism, but on his effectiveness in office. His lack of power, much more than his specific words and the history of the observations on the breed, became a central issue in this year’s race, with opponents arguing that he is unable to represent their views in the House or administration.

King, a tough immigration advocate, had a well-documented history of controversial statements during his nine terms. But only later an interview with the New York Times in January 2019, when the deputy questioned how “white nationalist, white supremacist, western civilization” became offensive, the Republican leaders of the House scolded him by stripping him of his commissions. Last June, the Trump administration excluded him from Air Force One when the President visited his state.

King claimed that his words were ill-characterized and taken out of context, blaming the media and Republican leaders for leading a revenge against him.

“Never Trumpers are the people who shelled everything,” King said in a recent debate, speaking defiantly to Republicans “who want Steve King out of the way.”

In his concession speech, King said that those forces pushed him out of the office.

“This comes from an effort to push out the strongest voice for the whole spectrum, the constitutional Christian conservatism that exists in the United States Congress,” said King.

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Feenstra was seen as King’s toughest opponent in a five-way game that included former state legislature Jeremy Taylor, businessmen Steve Reeder and army veteran Bret Richards.

“I am truly humbled by the explosion of support over the past 17 months that has made it possible tonight and I thank MEP King for his decades of public service,” Feenstra said in a statement. “As we turn to the general election, I will remain focused on my plans to deliver results for Iowa families, farmers and communities. But first, we must make sure that this seat does not end up in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies at Congress. Let’s go back to work tomorrow. “

Feenstra had won sponsorships and financial support from conservative groups in Washington, including the Chamber of Commerce and the National Right to Life Committee. He told voters he wanted a seat on the House Agriculture Committee – something King no longer has. And it boasted a much larger country war chest, reporting over $ 415,000 on hand in late March respect less than $ 30,000 for King.

“The fourth district needs a seat at the table – an effective conservative voice,” Feenstra said in a recent debate. “Our district, our president, deserve an effective conservative leader in Congress.”

The biggest direct uncertainty Tuesday, according to Republican strategists in Iowa, was the number of votes absent. For the first time, mail order forms were mailed to all Iowa voters and as of Tuesday over 70,000 Republican votes had been requested in the district, with nearly 60,000 already returned, according to the office by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

Two years ago, less than 3,000 votes were registered for absenteeism. The dramatic increase in absentee ballots appeared to help the long-time MP bring new Republican voters.

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Bob Vander Plaats, a former supporter of the king and an influential Christian conservative, supported Feenstra, worried that if King had won the first time the Democrats would have had a better shot than just to win his deep red district in the northwest of Iowa, but also to defeat President Donald Trump and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst. Democrat J.D. Scholten, a former professional baseball player, has made it three points since beating King in 2018 and is back in the running.

Last week, Vander Plaats told CNN that there was “growing fatigue” with King in the 4th district and a “gradual clarity” that “his voice is no longer desired at the table.”

King replied that Vander Plaats and Feenstra are sacrificing their principles “in their misleading effort to shut down the real conservatives and hand over this district to RINOs and NeverTrumpers.”

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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