Rep. Steve King (R) drew his second primary challenger Thursday in Army veteran Bret Richards (R), a 47-year-old former businessman. "Living here my whole life, it’s frustrating to see how ineffective he has been. … For the 4th District, we do not have great representation in Congress. And we need it," he said of King.
"Richards mainly keeps his focus on issues like rural development, health care and veterans’ mental health. He doesn’t mention the controversy over King’s inflammatory, race-based rhetoric until he’s asked. ... King in recent years has gained national notoriety for virulent, anti-immigrant rhetoric such as characterizing undocumented border-crossers as drug mules with 'calves the size of cantaloupes.'" (Des Moines Register)
Already in the race against Kim: state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R), who could see some help from the Club for Growth. The group said it is closely watching Feenstra, and noted that King had a declining score on their scorecard since he notched 100 percent in 2010. (Politico)
The NRCC said in a statement it would not get involved in primaries: “We aren’t going to comment further on a hypothetical election two years away on the 8th day of the new Congress.” (Washington Examiner)
The news comes shortly after the publication of comments King made to the New York Times in defense of the terms white supremacy and white nationalism. In a statement released Thursday, King pushed back on the idea that he is a white nationalist, but said he is “an advocate for Western Civilization’s values.” (Twitter)
SPEAKING OUT. But several top GOP leaders and rank-and-file members were quick to condemn King on Twitter:
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23): “Everything about white supremacy & white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation. Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society." (Washington Examiner)
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (WY-AL): "These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse." (Twitter)
Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03): "This is an embrace of racism, and it has no place in Congress or anywhere." (Twitter)
Rep. Paul Mitchell (MI-10): "The embrace of these terms and philosophies are fundamentally wrong and offensive and have no place in Congress, our nation, or anywhere." (Twitter)
POSSIBLE CENSURE. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH 13) "said his latest comments exhibit a 'pattern of behavior' that was worthy of censure. The Ohio Democrat directed his staff to research the process for drafting a censure resolution to condemn King’s actions and worked to gain support for a motion with colleagues during floor votes on Thursday. ... Democrats, including" Reps. Filemon Vela (TX-34) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), "voiced interest in censuring King."
New NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer (MN-06) "criticized King’s statements — but he wouldn’t comment about whether the House should take action against the Iowa Republican." (Politico)