Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst told reporters today she will not endorse a candidate in the Republican primary for Rep. Steve King’s congressional seat.
Ernst, in response to a question from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, said Thursday afternoon on a conference call with reporters, “I will not be endorsing anyone in that primary race.”
Ernst said she has not talked to King about the critical comments he recently made of her on social media, in response to her condemnation of President Donald Trump’s racist remarks against four racially diverse women in Congress.
When asked by reporters earlier this month about whether she thought Trump’s tweet was racist — telling the women to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” — Ernst said, “Yeah, I do.”
Tagging Ernst on Twitter, King said it was “not constructive to advance [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s] #MobSquad #FakeNews narrative against @realDonaldTrump whose policies have lifted up all Americans.”
“No, I haven’t had any discussions with the congressman about that,” Ernst said Thursday.
King has represented Iowa’s conservative 4th Congressional District since 2003.
The congressman narrowly defeated his 2018 Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, and now faces three Republican opponents in the 2020 primary. State Sen. Randy Feenstra currently is leading the congressman in fundraising, ending the second quarter with about $337,000 in cash-on-hand compared to King’s $18,000.
King has seen a decline in support among establishment Republicans since he was stripped of his House committee assignments in January, in response to remarks he made about white supremacists and the importance of “western civilization.”
Notably, King was one of the only major Iowa Republican elected officials to not attend Ernst’s annual Roast and Ride this year.
By Elizabeth Meyer