Enough: Iowa Republicans Need More Than Words On Steve King

By Pat Rynard

March 16, 2017

“I do not agree with Congressman King’s statement,” read Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kaufmann’s statement early Monday morning in response to Steve King’s initial racist tweet.

Ok, that’s nice.

Now what are you going to do about it?

Since King’s Sunday tweets that ignited a week-long national controversy, he has double, tripled and quadrupled-down on his statements, going further every single day.

“I’d like to see an America that is just so homogenous that we look a lot the same,” King said in a CNN interview on Monday.

“And he’s adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America,” King told WHO Radio later that day, criticizing Jorge Ramos for talking about race. “I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.”

“[T[hey are supplanting Western civilization with Middle Eastern civilization,” he told Breitbart on Tuesday, referring to immigrants.

By midweek he was getting support not just from former KKK leaders, but from modern day Nazis like Richard Spencer.

A simple “I do not agree” just does not cut it anymore at this point. Iowa Republicans have a member of Congress who increasingly promotes a racist ideology that’s more at home in a white hood than any legitimate political party.

King tries to blame others for injecting race into his comments over culture, but the end result of King’s ideology is that everyone looks and acts like white Christians. His few defenders act like he’s just opposing radical extremism that leads to terrorism, but what he’s really promoting – and actively admits that he is – is the end of all diversity in America, something antithetical to America’s founding, democracy itself and the “Western civilization” that he purports to back. It’s white nationalism, pure and simple.

Democrats are more than ready to take King on again in 2018, and past and potentially-future Democratic opponent Kim Weaver raised over $100,000 this week off the controversy.

But what should Iowa Republicans do?

Well, what they should do is censure King in the House, encourage a primary opponent, and back that person.

They’re not going to do that.

For one, many Republican primary-goers in the 4th District actually agree with King, or have deluded themselves so much that they refuse to believe that he’s saying these things. He’d probably win a hotly contested primary, which would embarrass and set back the Republican leadership that tried to oust him.

Parties also just don’t do that sort of thing. Bribery, criminal acts, weird sex stuff – that might be enough to get your party leadership to give you the boot, but a difference over extreme ideology – even outright racism – amazingly never seems to be a disqualifier. Any challenge is going to come from grassroots Republicans and outside donors, not a party leader like Kaufmann, Terry Branstad or Kim Reynolds.

However, what other connections do Iowa Republicans have with King? Well, he speaks at all of their major statewide fundraisers. That may be the one place where the state party legitimately could – and very much should – make a change in their relationship with the 4th District congressman.

Stop inviting Steve King to your Reagan Day Dinner, Lincoln Dinner and Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride. If he holds his own big cattle-call, fine. But don’t put him up on stage at your official Republican Party of Iowa events anymore.

And why would you at this point? Imagine if he starts spouting off about Hispanic and Muslim birth rates at your next big fundraiser while Kim Reynolds sits just feet away from him. The guy is a liability to your entire statewide ticket. Keep letting King headline your state party events and you run a real risk of your whole party getting labeled as a white nationalist operation, and that don’t help you much with voters outside parts of the 4th District.

One sentence saying you disagree with King is nowhere near enough. And while Iowa Republican leaders probably can’t go as far as they absolutely should in driving King out of the party, at the very least he should be disinvited from future speaking roles at state party events. Otherwise, it’s worse than a bunch of meaningless words – it’s feckless cowardice to stand up to someone who you admit is very, very wrong.

 

by Pat Rynard
Posted 3/16/17

  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.

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