As state and federal party leaders desert Congressman Steve King, one Republican leader in the 4th District is a prime example of the constituents who never have wavered in their support.
Mark Leonard, chairman of the Ida County Republicans, defended King in a recent article in The Atlantic centered on supporters of the House Republican.
When asked by The Atlantic reporter about King’s 2017 statement, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” Leonard, was in agreement.
“If we bring people from another culture here and overpopulate this place with people from a different culture, we won’t build up American culture,” said Leonard, 63.
King has a history of racist and controversial comments as a member of Congress, including the “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” comment that led to the loss of his committee assignments.
King has insisted he was misquoted by the New York Times. Leonard, however, believed King’s statement was factually accurate.
“Look at what actually the word supreme means,” Leonard told The Atlantic. “It doesn’t mean ‘better’; it means ‘dominant.’ Whites are supreme in this country, that’s a fact … I don’t know [that white people] are trying to run the country and the businesses to the detriment of anybody else, though.”
King, in the midst of his ninth term, faces a three-way primary. His top challenger, state Sen. Randy Feenstra, already has the support of former governor Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and wealthy Republican donors. Iowa’s junior senator, Joni Ernst, said she would not endorse any candidate in the 4th District primary. Gov. Kim Reynolds also has shied away, despite allowing King to serve as a co-chair on her 2018 campaign.
In September 2018, two months before Election Day, Reynolds attended a fundraiser at the Holstein home of Mark and Sheryl Leonard. In The Atlantic article, the reporter details Leonard’s love of Civil War memorabilia and reenactments, along with his steadfast defense of the Confederacy.
“Leonard’s home, located about a mile north of the town’s only stoplight, is filled—filled—with paintings of Confederate soldiers,” wrote reporter Elaine Godfrey. Presumably, this is the same house where Reynolds held a fundraiser.
At King’s town hall meetings, he typically is confronted by a protestor or detractor at least once. More often, however, a member of the audience will stand up to voice their support for the embattled congressman.
King will need every bit of his base to turn out in the primary to have a chance at meeting Democrat J.D. Scholten in a rematch next November.
By Elizabeth Meyer