It’s hard to imagine anything positive resulting from Congressman Steve King’s latest anti-immigrant rants and tweets. However, there may be one silver lining to the dark and ugly racist cloud surrounding King: donations are pouring in to Kim Weaver, encouraging her to run against King again in 2018. Weaver challenged King in 2016, but failed to take out Iowa’s most embarrassing Republican Congressman.
Iowans and many Americans are repulsed by Congressman King’s latest tweet attacks on immigrants, and are expressing their support for Weaver with their donations. Weaver raised over $100,000, mainly in small donations, in the four days following King’s March 12th tweets. She’s up to $144,000 as of today. Weaver said a few weeks ago that she would challenge King again if she could raise $100,000 by September.
This big money infusion could be a game changer for round two of the Weaver vs. King rematch. Having sufficient funding to finance a viable campaign could finally give Weaver a real shot to take King down. In the 2016 campaign it took her two years to raise a total of $170,000. Based on her current fundraising rate, she will soon surpass that 2016 total and the 2018 election is still more than a year and half away.
We all hate the need for big money in politics, but the reality is Democrats like Weaver can’t even get in the political ring with King without it. Getting in the ring translates to building her name recognition and developing a message that gets voters’ attention. Once she gets voters to notice, it’s about building the strength of her punch that can shatter King’s shield of invincibility.
King is vulnerable on his racist anti-immigrant rants. Not all Northwest Iowans agree with his extreme positions. Weaver can hit King hard by exposing him as someone that is betraying Iowa’s historic record of civility and respect for all cultures.
This big financial haul has already given Weaver the ability to hire a top-notch political director. In 2016 had just two staffers. Todd Prieb will soon be joining her exploratory bid. Prieb worked on the successful 2016 election of the first Indian-American Congresswomen in Washington State. Prieb helped elect Pramila Jayapal, a civil rights activist who previously served in the Washington State Senate.
In addition to the boost in donations, Weaver has been interviewed by a variety of national news sources. It hasn’t hurt that both Iowa and national Republican leaders are speaking to the media and distancing themselves from King as well.
King’s March 12th tweet that created all the national rage contained a link to the Voice of Europe, an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant right wing website. King’s tweet praised Geert Wilders, a Netherlands politician that has made his anti-Muslim rhetoric a key part of his political platform. Wilders is quoted as saying, “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam.” Wilders compares the Islamic holy book, the Quran, to Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf. He wants mosques to be banned in the Netherlands. This is the dangerous guy King has embraced in a special bromance.
King’s endorsement of racism and anti-Muslim European politicians is his weak spot. This doesn’t represent Northwest Iowa’s values and if Weaver can expose his statements as the racism it represents, she can take him down. King is not invincible and if Weaver can maintain her fundraising zeal, she has a chance for a King knockout in round two.
by Rick Smith