Voters appear to have ended the 20-year congressional career of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who is best known for his rabidly anti-immigrant and nativist views.
King was soundly defeated in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, which he has represented since 2003. With 95 percent of precincts reporting at 11 p.m. local time, King was trailing state Sen. Randy Feenstra by more than 9 percentage points in a five-way race.
It is fitting that King’s political career will effectively come to an end in a week marked by nationwide protests against racial discrimination by law enforcement. King has a long history of making what Vanity Fair once called “barely veiled” statements in support of white nationalism. He has suggested that black Americans would be more easily able to afford abortions if they stopped buying iPhones, and for years he displayed a Confederate flag in his congressional office—which doesn’t even make historical sense, since Iowa did not join the confederacy.
His history of comments about immigrants is at least as appalling. While discussing what he saw as the need for an electrified border fence 2006, King compared illegal immigrants to livestock. King has always maintained that he only opposes illegal immigration, but any honest accounting of his time in public office—including remarks like “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” and “immigrants are importing a different culture, a different civilization, and that culture and civilization, the imported one, rejects the host’s culture“—would strongly suggest otherwise.
The last straw for many Republicans may have come in 2019, when King wondered aloud during a 2019 interview with The New York Times: “white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” He claimed the Times had misquoted him, but no one really bought it. His congressional colleagues officially rebuked him on the House floor, and Republican leaders stripped King of his committee assignments. He had trouble raising money in this election cycle, and deep-pocketed groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed Feenstra’s bid to unseat him.
Good riddance. King’s anti-immigrant politics and ethno-nationalist ideas may have presaged the Republican Party’s Trump Era, but they should have no place in American politics.