Iowa newspaper breaks its tradition, endorses Steve King's Dem opponent

The editorial board of an Iowa newspaper broke with tradition on Friday and endorsed the Democratic opponent to incumbent Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Democrats need someone in ‘the Ojeda lane’ Pence on push to remove Omar from committee: Steve King saw ‘consequences’ MORE (R).

“Those were not easy words for us to write,” the editorial board of the Sioux City Journal wrote.

The Journal said it previously endorsed King, an eight-term congressman, because the board thought he was an “honest, principled family man,” who would reflect his constituents in Iowa’s 4th district.

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“In spite of the criticisms we also shared in those endorsements, we believed King's strengths were enough to make him a better choice for this district than the Democratic challengers he faced in past elections,” the editorial board wrote.

But King’s challenger, Democrat J.D. Scholten, has strengths of his own, the group wrote.

“With a candidate of Scholten's caliber on the ballot, we decided we wouldn't overlook, again, the concerns we have shared about King in the past in making an endorsement in this race this year,” the newspaper wrote.

King has been criticized by the newspaper for his “inflammatory or questionable” comments in the past, the Journal wrote.

He faced backlash earlier this month after endorsed a Toronto mayoral candidate described as a white supremacist after appearing on a podcast produced for a neo-Nazi website.

“That wasn't the first time King was tied, by his words or actions, to such intolerant ugliness,” the newspaper wrote.

Scholten has outfundraised King in the last two years, bringing in more than $1.4 million, but King had a 10-point lead in a September poll from Emerson College.

They also face a Libertarian Party nominee, Charles Aldrich, in the Nov. 6 election.

“If underdog Scholten springs an upset, we hope he remembers this remains largely a conservative, Republican district and we urge him to take accordingly moderate positions on issues of the day,” the editorial board wrote.

Scholten thanked the newspaper on Twitter Saturday for the endorsement, saying it was reflecting the district.

The Hill has reached out to the King campaign for comment.