Last week during an Iowa 4th Congressional District Republican Forum hosted in Spencer; Steve King claimed he had reached a deal get his committee assignments back.
“On April 20, Kevin McCarthy and I reached an agreement that he would advocate to the (Republican) Steering Committee to put all of my committees back, all of my seniority,” King said at a forum Monday night. “When Congress comes back into session when the steering committee can (inaudible) together, I have Kevin McCarthy’s word that that will be my time for exoneration.”
Almost immediately after the comments were reported, their accuracy was disputed. Leader McCarthy noted that “I have not taken a position on his race” as well as “the constituents have a decision to make and they can make their own decision.” but on the matter of getting his assignments and rank back McCarthy said “he has the right to go to the Steering committee and the Steering committee would take up the committee assignments just like every Congress, just like every single member. ….[but] talking to members on the Steering committee, I think he’d get the same answer that he got before.”
Additionally, Republican Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, who sits on the GOP steering committee, told the Sioux City Journal said that King “will not be serving on any committee.”
Rep. Steve King claims he will get his committees back next year. As long as I am a member of the Republican Steering Committee, I will not allow hate & bigotry to influence the legislation passed by Congress. He will not be serving on any committee. https://t.co/OLjkKrSS4L
— Steve Stivers (@stevestivers) May 13, 2020
While King has a long history of controversial comments, the episode reopens the wounds of King’s original remarks on white nationalism that resulted in his committee assignments being stripped, essentially neutering him in his role in Congress. King has consistently maintained that the New York Times misquoted him.
Democrat J.D. Scholten in 2018 nearly defeated King, who eked out a win with Scholten just 3% short. That’s a far cry from the 20% margin King enjoyed only a cycle before.
This year, King, the nine-term incumbent, faces a real primary race. Four individuals are running against him. Businessman Randy Feenstra has emerged as the frontrunner in the race to replace King by raising the most money. Recent internal polling shows him within spitting distance of winning the primary. In the case below, Feenstra holds a small lead.
New #IA4 #IA04 GOP primary poll out this am for client @AmFutureFund @NicholasTRyan shows dead heat. Randy Feenstra with very narrow advantage over Steve King with a couple weeks to go… pic.twitter.com/dNX67W3qer
— Robert Blizzard (@robertblizzard) May 20, 2020
Ramona Nitz, a King supporter for over 17 years and former County GOP chairwoman, said she is not supporting King this time. “Steve King let us down. Right now, he’s our only Republican in Congress, and if he makes it through the primary, I think there is a really good chance he’ll lose it for us. If that happens, not only have we let ourselves down, but we’ve also let Iowa conservatives down.
Asked why he continues to run when he’s in this situation, she replied, “He doesn’t want to go out like this, so he’s running a campaign about him, and that’s not right, this and every campaign should be a campaign about us, the people.”
“We’ve had his back for years and years,” she said becoming emotional, “and now that it’s clear that he has permanently lost his committee assignments and could very well lose this seat, he should step aside”.
King’s campaign refers to Feenstra as the choice of out of state establishment Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO’s) and the D.C. swamp. Romona said, “That’s ridiculous.”
“No one returns calls and texts like Randy Feenstra. He’s a good guy and a real conservative. He won’t embarrass us, I won’t have to defend the things he says,” said Nitz
Feenstra’s operation touts a robust grassroots operation of more than 2200 individual contributors, Of those contributions over 1300 are from districts. It also noted that it has over 600 campaign chairs from all 39 counties as a sign of strength. Supporters include former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and evangelical social conservative leader Bob Vander-Plaats
Gerald Edgar is a former donor, fundraising host, and county co-chair for King. Edgar says the campaign of negative attacks and misinformation from King shows his desperation to stay in office.
He also cited that King may be scared about his financial situation after he loses. “What’s he going to go back to?’ wondered Gerald. “I’m sure one of his considerations must be the considerable salary and benefits he enjoys as a result of being a congressman, his family too. He will take a significant financial hit.”
On the matter of King’s claims that Feenstra is RINO or that he’s being promoted by out of district interests, Gerald said firstly it’s not true, and that attitude runs counter to the philosophy of Ronald Reagan.
“Steve’s criticisms are coming from the right, not the left,” said Edgar. He continued, “You get elected by doing, a strong work ethic, paying attention to details, that’s how Randy Feenstra became a well-respected state senator. Talking and doing are two different things, and Steve King isn’t doing anymore.”
When asked why, Gerald thinks that he succumbed to what many politicians fall prey to, the bright lights of D.C., and the attitude that they are invincible. Gerald thinks that it’s ironic that King who ran first as a self-made man, willing to get his hands dirty, literally as the owner of an earthmoving and construction company, failed to really get his hands dirty with the details of public policy and governing in Washington.
The primary to decide who will move on as the GOP nominee this fall takes place in less than two weeks. The winner will take on Democrat J.D. Scholten.
Iowa Field Report reached out to the King campaign for comment. This article will be updated.