Republicans and high-profile donors are abandoning Steve King after years of racial insensitivity, and his reelection is suddenly in jeopardy
- Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has a long history of making racially insensitive remarks and associating with white nationalists.
- Several donors have in recent days dropped support for King, including the National Republican Congressional Committee.
- A recent poll shows King is nearly tied with his Democratic challenger, just one week before Election Day.
WASHINGTON - Republican Rep. Steve King has come under fire many times for making racist statements or racially insensitive gestures.
But the most recent case is unlike the countless others from years' past. King's party leaders are publicly rebuking his words and actions, and several high-profile donors have dropped their support for him.
In the past year, King has endorsed a white nationalist running for mayor of Toronto in Canada, repeatedly retweeted white supremacist accounts on Twitter, and parroted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban's remarks that "mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one."
This is not a newfound habit for King. In the past he has found himself in hot water for displaying the Confederate battle flag on his congressional office desk, despite representing Iowa, which fought for the Union during the Civil War. King later removed the flag from his desk after an Iowa who had man murdered two police officers had been shown to frequently display the flag.
Republican leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, have had to condemn King's remarks and actions "many times," but they have continued to happen with little to no consequences.
But after a gunman killed 11 individuals at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, King's activities resurfaced.
Jewish leaders in Iowa wrote a letter to the Des Moines Register newspaper condemning King and asking for his donors to withdraw their support for him.
"We are writing from the depths of our grief, in horror at the news of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh," wrote Alan Steckman and John Pleasants, two leaders of Jewish congregations in King's district. "We feel we must speak out because our congressional representative, Steve King, is an enthusiastic crusader for the same types of abhorrent beliefs held by the Pittsburgh shooter."
King's reelection campaign is suddenly in jeopardy
And more followed: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman and Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers condemned King.
"Congressman Steve King's recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate," Stivers wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. "We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior."
Later, a spokesman for the NRCC announced during an interview with Fox News that King would no longer receive support from the GOP's premier campaign arm.
Several donors, including companies like Purina and Land O'Lakes, dropped their support for King.
"The Land O'Lakes, Inc. PAC has traditionally contributed to lawmakers of both parties that represent the communities where our members and employees live and work and are also on committees that oversee policies that directly impact our farmer owners," the company said in a statement. "We take our civic responsibility seriously, want our contributions to be a positive force for good and also seek to ensure that recipients of our contributions uphold our company's values."
The condemnations could not come at a worse time for King, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign with recent polling showing him neck and neck with Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten. A Change Research poll released Tuesday showed King leading with 45% to Scholten's 44%, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
King issued a statement in response, calling the condemnations of him a plot by individuals opposed to President Donald Trump's political agenda.
"Americans, all created equal by God, with all our races, ethnicities, and national origins - legal immigrants & natural born citizens, together make up the Shining City on the Hill," King said. "These attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news. Their ultimate goal is to flip the House and impeach Donald Trump. Establishment Never Trumpers are complicit."
Few have come to King's defense. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, a hardline conservative in the House, backed up King in a statement Wednesday morning.
"It's happening again. Some of the same Establishment Republicans who thought this country would be better off if Hillary Clinton won the election in 2016 are now joining with what calls itself the media in this country to slander conservatives," he said. "They're slinging around terms like racist and white supremacist at people who haven't supported amnesty, like Steve King."
"As a Christian, Steve has a love of people of all races. I've seen him show a deep compassion and concern for people from all over the world," Gohmert added. "Unlike his detractors, Steve is devoted to keeping his oath to defend our Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic--and that doesn't always line up wit the interests of some people in political life who would sell out this nation in exchange for their own power."
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