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Steve King’s Racism Won’t Be His Undoing
In the 24 years he’s been in politics, Steve King, the Iowa Republican who has spoken of immigrants with “calves the size of cantaloupes” and cautioned that Americans cannot “restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” has never lost an election. That could change today.The 71-year-old is facing a slew of well-qualified candidates in the state’s Republican primary. Interestingly, though, that fight hasn’t involved much talk of racism. Throughout the past few months of the campaign, King’s Republican opponents have chosen not to focus on King’s rhetoric; instead, they’ve endeavored to portray the congressman, who has been removed from three committee positions, as just another ineffective, complacent career politician. Which is to say that the message Republicans are sending to King is not a condemnation of his racist comments, but rather a broader denunciation for an even graver political sin: putting a safe seat in danger.King first flew onto the nation’s radar back in 2013, when he made the cantaloupes comment during an interview with Newsmax. Three years later, he warned on Twitter that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” In 2018, he met with a member of a Nazi-linked party in Austria, just after 11 worshippers were killed in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue. That year, King attracted a formidable challenge from the Democrat J. D. Scholten, a former Minor League baseball player from the area. King defeated Scholten in the November midterm elections—but only by three points, his closest margin of victory ever, and in a heavily Republican district.Read: [Why does Steve King keep winning?]The closeness of the race alarmed Republicans nationwide, and spurred King’s opponents in Iowa to action. Four Republicans announced challenges to King ahead of today’s primary: Randy Feenstra, a state senator; Jeremy Taylor, a former state legislator; Bret Richards, a local businessman and former mayor; and Steve Reeder, a real-estate developer. Feenstra, who has outraised King in the first quarter of the year by nearly $400,000, has earned the endorsement of party leaders like former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and the National Right to Life Committee and is currently closest to King in the polls. Internal polling from the Feenstra campaign released on May 11 showed King leading Feenstra 39 to 36 percent, a result within the margin of error.Many Iowa Republicans fear that nominating King today would risk their hold on his seat. King almost lost to Scholten once, and the Democrat is better known this time around. “King is a boogeyman and a fundraising motivator,” Douglas Burns, an Iowa columnist and the co-owner of Herald Publishing, told me. “If King is the candidate for the Republicans, there will be a massive amount of outside money that comes in to support Scholten.” Some GOP strategists fear that a King nomination could increase Democratic turnout in the district, jeopardizing Donald Trump’s chances of winning the state in November—and the reelection of Senator Joni Ernst, who is facing a strong challenge from the Democratic real-estate developer Theresa Greenfield.Unseating an incumbent, even one like King, is a struggle. Back home in Northwest Iowa, he still has many loyal supporters—people who feel devoted to him in much the same way that President Trump’s supporters have remained faithful through wave after wave of controversy. They view King as a victim of baseless media smears and political-correctness culture run amok. It’s just Steve being Steve, I heard over and over last August during a reporting trip to the district. “What is a racist anymore?” one Woodbury County man told me then. “Racist in the liberal logic is just somebody that doesn’t agree with what you say.”Since his narrow victory over Scholten, though, King has seen much of his political power wash away like Iowa topsoil. Republican leadership removed him from his posts on the House Judiciary, Agriculture, and Small Business Committees in January 2019, after King questioned the offensiveness of the term white supremacist in an interview with The New York Times. Representative Cindy Axne, the freshman Democrat from Iowa’s Third District, was appointed to the Agriculture Committee in his place. (In a dustup earlier this month, King claimed to have reached an agreement with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to be reinstated to those committees, but McCarthy has denied making any such agreement.)King’s declining influence in Washington has given his GOP foes an opening. The campaign is “not about re-litigating the controversial things he said,” David Kochel, a GOP strategist originally from Iowa, told me last week. “Voters are looking at this like, We need representation here, and we’re not getting it from you.”Many high-profile Republicans have abandoned their long-held support for King to embrace Feenstra in the past year, including Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa-based head of the Family Leader, a social-conservative umbrella organization. “Not only should a person be a respected representative in D.C., but they should have a leadership position in D.C.,” Vander Plaats told me.Even the U.S. Chamber of Congress, which rarely endorses against Republican incumbents, has backed Feenstra, spending $200,000 in advertising on the race, and recently airing an ad to remind voters that King was kicked off the Agriculture Committee in the middle of a farming crisis. They’ve chosen to altogether avoid King’s past comments. “We like to stick to our lane,” Scott Reed, the chamber’s senior political strategist, told me.King’s primary opponents, too, have chosen to lean into their conservative bona fides rather than delve into the fraught territory of the congressman’s social-media posts and rhetoric. Feenstra, whose campaign did not return multiple requests for comment, touts his A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (compared with King’s A-), while condemning King for failing to deliver for the district. Taylor, another King opponent, told me that early on in his career, King represented the district well, but now there are simply too many “distractions.” When I asked why he doesn’t bring up King’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, Taylor demurred. “He’s a decent man,” he said, but “we’ll lose this seat if he’s the nominee.” Richards, the former businessman, said that he’s made a conscious choice to avoid condemning King’s comments during his campaign. “Congressman King’s granddaughter and my daughter will play volleyball and softball against each other,” he told me. “I’m not going to say anything bad where I can’t sit in the gym and look at his granddaughter at the end of the day.”The candidates, in other words, are each engaging in a form of triangulation—attempting to endear themselves to King’s supporters, while positioning themselves as a safe and preferable alternative. Nathan Lichter and Mark Saunders, two friends who work as feed-truck drivers in the district, told me they both plan on voting for Feenstra in the primary. They can understand the strategy. “A lot of King supporters have no problem with his racist comments, so it’s more trying to get them on board with I can do a better job,” Saunders told me.That approach could end up working for Feenstra. Nearly 70,000 Republican have requested absentee ballots so far in the Fourth District, after the state sent ballot-request forms to every voter, and 40,000 have already been returned, according to the Iowa secretary of state’s office. Compare that with the 2018 GOP primary, when a total of 39,000 votes were cast. High turnout will be good for Feenstra, Kochel said.Read: [The moral urgency of voting by mail]Yet despite all the resources and energy spent to take him out, King is likely to benefit from wide name recognition in the district, as well as from the splintered primary field. And all the fundraising in the world can’t change the sense of loyalty that so many Iowa voters feel toward him. “Journalists and pundits often make the fatal mistake of thinking that voters consider their ballot choices tactically,” Burns said. “They don’t. They vote with their guts.”And if King holds on, there’s no guarantee that Scholten’s second try at unseating him will be any more successful than his first. Asked whether he would encourage Republicans in the district to vote for Scholten if King wins the Republican primary, Vander Plaats, the Family Leader chief, was emphatic: “I would never say that,” he vowed. “King is going to represent the values of the people of the Fourth District much better than J. D. Scholten is.”
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California man allegedly caught eating body of relative: report
A California man was arrested Monday afternoon after police said he allegedly murdered a relative and was caught by authorities eating her body, according to a report.
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New Zealand's PM Ardern 'horrified' by George Floyd's death
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Tucker Carlson Questions How Donald Trump Can Protect Country After Fox Reporter Attacked Near White House
The Fox News host also said the ongoing scenes of unrest and rioting were a "distressing moment" for the president's supporters.
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'The Tonight Show': What Jimmy Fallon Said in His Blackface Apology
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Continued curfews, primary races, Black Out Tuesday: 5 things to know Tuesday
Curfews imposed as protests continue, the music industry will protest the death of George Floyd and more news to start your Tuesday.      
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Coronavirus Spread Probably Won't Be Slowed Down by Warm Summer Weather in America, Study Suggests
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NYPD officer struck by vehicle in the Bronx in apparent hit-and-run, video shows
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Gourmet home delivery is here to stay in Dubai
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Some police officers are showing solidarity with protesters in several US cities
Americans have been protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police for days on end in dozens of cities throughout the United States.
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Two-thirds of people put in neck restraints by Minneapolis police were black, department data shows
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Fact-checking Trump: He's on a dangerous path that must be documented and discouraged
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Sacramento Kings Announcer Placed on Leave for 'All Lives Matter' Comment on Twitter
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