Iowa Rep. Steve King has holding on to his 4th District House seat by his fingernails for much of the past few years.
He hasn’t been allowed to hold any committee assignments – an essential part of being a member of Congress and having any sort of influence – since January 2019.
He’s been persona non grata among Republicans in Washington for longer than that, the result of a series of xenophobic statements and expressions of sympathy for white supremacists over the years by King.
On Tuesday, King may suffer a final indignity: Losing in a Republican primary.
King’s perceived weakness has drawn four GOP challengers, the most prominent of which is a state senator named Randy Feenstra.
But King’s vulnerability also may be his saving grace: The anti-King vote could be potentially be split four different ways while the pro-King vote is all behind the congressman.
And while the pro-King vote probably isn’t enough to win a one-on-one vote, he might be able to eke out a very narrow win if the other four candidates manage to relatively evenly split up the anti-King vote.
King, for his part, is primarily focused on Feenstra. In an op-ed in the Sioux City-Journal published last week, King blasted the “billionaire coastal RINO-NeverTrumper, globalist, neocon elites” who are backing Feenstra. He also insisted that the reason that so many leaders in Washington are opposed to him is because “I have run to the sound of the guns in every important fight.”
Feenstra is hitting back with longtime Iowa social conservative heavyweight Bob Vander Plaats attacking King’s lack of efficacy. “Whatever you think of Steve King, it’s clear he’s no longer effective,” Vander Plaats says in a new Feenstra ad. “He can’t deliver for President Trump and he can’t advance our conservative values.”
If King manages to eke out a victory on Tuesday – and there’s no sort of runoff provision so he just needs to get one more vote than anyone else – he takes a seat that shouldn’t be competitive in the general election and makes it deeply vulnerable.
Democrats have lined up behind 2018 nominee J.D. Scholten, who came within 3 points of beating King in a district that President Donald Trump won handily in 2016.
The Point: King should lose. But in truth, it’s amazing that he’s lasted this long – which makes writing his political obituary before all the votes are counted a dicey proposition.