Iowa state senator launches primary challenge to Steve King in Iowa

Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) announced Wednesday that he will challenge Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingNebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Steve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America MORE (R-Iowa) for his northwest Iowa House seat, saying that the controversial congressman’s “caustic nature” had left his district without an effective representative in Washington.

“Today, Iowa’s 4th District doesn’t have a voice in Washington, because our current representative’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table,” Feenstra said in a statement. “We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions, we need to start winning for Iowa’s families.”

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Feenstra also directed his ire at House Democrats, saying that their first week in the majority underscored the need for “effective conservative leaders in Congress,” who will back President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE’s agenda.

“What we’ve seen this past week from the new Democratic majority in Congress is appalling,” said Feenstra, who announced that he was forming a formal campaign committee. 

The announcement means that King, who narrowly beat back a challenge from Democrat J.D. Scholten in November, will face a primary in Iowa’s deeply conservative 4th District in 2020.

King is among the most controversial figures in Congress, known for making racially charged comments and embracing ethnic nationalism. He came under intense pressure last year after a deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue for comments supporting white nationalist candidates.

The pressure King faced from fellow Republicans put him on the defensive in his vast northwest Iowa district. Just days before the Nov. 6 election, The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, moved King’s race against Scholten from the “Likely Republican” column to “Lean Republican.”

King eventually defeated Scholten by more than 3 points — a slim margin for a nine-term congressman used to winning reelection by double digits.