While King’s dalliances with the David Duke set might not ordinarily have turned off voters in this very conservative district, they unquestionably did him harm, perhaps because he gained a reputation as a showboater more concerned with his international standing among fascists than with the folks back home in western Iowa. Ultimately, while GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds carried this seat by a wide 59-39 margin, King only narrowly scraped by against Scholten.
King’s situation only got worse in January when he asked a New York Times reporter, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?’” Congressional GOP leaders, perhaps sensing that King was much more of a liability than an asset after 2018, preceded to at last strip him of all of his committee assignments. The incumbent also picked up a few foes in next June’s primary, with state Sen. Randy Feenstra quickly emerging as the main anti-King candidate.
King remains committee-less seven months later, and he’s also nearly cash-less. The incumbent has been a weak fundraiser for years, but the $18,000 war chest he had at the end of June was terrible even for him. Feenstra, by contrast, had $337,000 to spend. Two other candidates, Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor and Army veteran Bret Richards each had less than $50,000 to spend, though they both still had more cash-on-hand than King.
However, Scholten seems convinced that King will still be his opponent next year. The Democrat told The Storm Lake Times’ Art Cullen in late July that he believed Feenstra wasn’t raising enough money to overtake the well-known King, and he predicted that the incumbent would with enough support to win the four-way primary. In Iowa, a candidate needs to win at least 35% of the vote to win the primary outright or else the nomination is decided at a party convention, and Scholten said he believed King would clear this threshold.
It’s unlikely that another Republican nominee could lose a seat this red. However, if King does prevail in the June primary, he may finally be weak enough to cost his party this seat.
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