Longtime GOP Rep. Steve King defeated in Iowa primary

Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) defeated controversial Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in the Republican primary in the state’s 4th District on Tuesday, ending the firebrand congressman’s nearly two-decade run in the House. 

The win increases the likelihood the heavily Republican district will remain in GOP hands. Feenstra will face off in November against Democrat J.D. Scholten, who is running for the seat for a second consecutive time and was unopposed in his party’s contest.

Feenstra was leading with 46 percent of the vote compared to King’s 36 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.

“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support over the past 17 months that made tonight possible and I thank Congressman 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 the families, farmers and communities of Iowa,” he added. “But first, we must make sure this seat doesn’t land in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies in Congress.”

King has built a reputation as one of the most controversial members of Congress. His remarks about race and immigration have drawn the ire of both Democrats and Republicans.

House GOP leaders moved last year to strip King of his committee assignments in the chamber after comments he made to The New York Times questioning why the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” became offensive.  

King’s inflammatory remarks and removal from key House panels, including the Judiciary and Agriculture committees, prompted a wave of primary challenges. In all, four Republicans vied to oust King on Tuesday, raising fears they would split the anti-King vote, even as Feenstra was considered the top challenger.

Republican leaders rallied around Feenstra. Karl Rove and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, were among those who donated to his campaign, while national groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent heavily in favor of the state senator. 

Feenstra seized on King’s removal from his committees, billing himself throughout the primary as an effective legislator who would support President Trump’s agenda. King, meanwhile, cast himself as a hard-line conservative who has succeeded over the years in moving the political center in the country further to the right.

“I called Randy Feenstra a little bit ago and I conceded the race to him and I pointed out that there’s some powerful elements in the swamp that he’s going to have an awfully hard time pushing back against,” King said in a video posted on his Facebook late Tuesday after the race was called.

King also blamed his defeat on “an effort to push out the strongest voice for full-spectrum constitutional, Christian conservatism” in Congress.

Polls showed a tight race between King and Feenstra in the lead-up to the primary Tuesday. An internal survey for Feenstra’s campaign showed the state senator trailing King by only 3 points — within the poll’s margin of error. Another survey from the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling released earlier this month showed Feenstra leading King by 4 points.

Updated on June 3 at 12:53 a.m.

Tags 2020 elections 4th District primary Donald Trump House races Iowa 4th District Karl Rove Nancy Pelosi Randy Feenstra Ronna McDaniel Steve King Steve Stivers

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