DES MOINES (AP) — After eking out a narrow election victory after allegations that he had met white supremacists, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King promised Wednesday to even more forcefully state his views in the future, saying his “head is bloodied but unbowed.”
The victory over Democrat J.D. Scholten came amid outcry over his association with white supremacist groups, which he says is false, and his hardline views on immigration, abortion and gun rights. King, 69, claimed his reputation has been sullied by these election attacks.
“I’m going to march through this. I’m going to take on all charges, take on all challengers. We’re going to fight to put this record in order,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.
King said he appeared to be cruising to an easy victory, with some polls showing him 20 points ahead. He said unexpected attacksbegan after news reports surfaced in September and October about his stance on immigration — he was described in one as “the most anti-immigrant member of Congress” — and a trip he took to Austria and his meeting there with members of the Freedom Party, which is associated with a man once active in neo-Nazi circles.
Organizations and individuals stirred by the allegations poured money into the Scholten campaign, giving it millions of dollars for television ads.
“I don’t know if anybody in America has taken that kind of nasty, negative, dishonest attack and withstood it,” King said.
Since he’s had no need to run television ads in previous elections and hasn’t had to raise money like other candidates, his campaign wasn’t prepared to match the onslaught. He estimated he spent around $130,000 for advertising this campaign against Scholten’s millions.
Scholten’s campaign did not immediately respond to messages.
King also vowed he’ll no longer passively allow news media or opponents to mischaracterize his statements or take them out of context.
“That’s something I’m changing,” King said. “I have refused all these years to defend myself of these baseless charges. I will be defending myself.”
He banned Iowa’s largest newspaper from his election night events in Sioux City. King’s son, Jeff King, said the campaign denied credentials to the Des Moines Register and “any other leftist propaganda media outlet with no concern for reporting the truth.”
Steve King said he’s hesitated to hold previously announced town hall meetings because opponents like to hijack them for their own publicity, but he plans on doing them again.
King, a construction company owner, began his career in politics in 1996, when he was elected to the Iowa Senate. He was re-elected in 2000 but opted to run for an open seat in Congress in 2002 created through redistricting and has served the rural, agricultural 4th District since.
Since first winning election to the U.S. House, King’s vote total has dipped below 60 percent only twice. He defeated Scholten on Tuesday with just 50 percent of the vote.
As a state senator, he’s credited with drafting the Iowa law that is considered one of the most restrictive abortion measures in the nation because it bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. It has been repeatedly challenged in the courts, but advocates hope it will be the case that finally leads to the reversal of legalized abortion in the U.S.
His firm belief on abortion is one of the reasons he believes wealthy donors from the East and West Coasts wanted to defeat him.
“If they think this is going to intimidate me into backing off of these values we believe in, they’re going to find out otherwise day by day and day and night because it never was about a political position,” he told supporters Tuesday night. “It was always about a conviction and a calling.”
Two years after a Republican sweep, Democrats show they still have role in Iowa politics
DES MOINES (AP) — Two years after Republicans swept nearly all state and federal offices in Iowa, Democrats showed they still have some life in the state.
Republican Kim Reynolds was elected governor on Tuesday and the GOP maintained control of the Legislature, but Democrats beat two Republican congressional incumbents in winning three of the state’s four U.S. House seats. It was a contrast to 2016, when President Donald Trump won the state by about nine percentage points and the GOP took three of four congressional seats.
Reynolds, who beat Democratic businessman Fred Hubbell, said she understood it was a close race. She pledged to meet with Hubbell to find common ground and work for the people who supported him.
“To all Iowans no matter who you might have supported or endorsed in this election, I want you to know I want to be your governor,” she said. “We want Iowa to be the very best it can be. We want Iowans success to reach into every single corner of this state.”
Hubbell said he hopes Reynolds will take a different approach in her first full-term. As lieutenant governor and since becoming governor, Reynolds has worked with Republican legislators to advance a conservative agenda that included a near-ban on abortions and reductions in public employee union rights.
“A lot of Iowans know we need change and it is my sincere hope that in her first full term Gov. Reynolds will listen to those voices loud and clear,” Hubbell said.
The governor’s race broke a fundraising record for a governor’s race, with $18 million raised by Hubbell — including $6.4 million of his own money — and nearly $11 million raised by Reynolds.
Victories by Democrats Abby Finkenauer in northeast Iowa’s 1st District and Cindy Axne in southwest Iowa’s 3rd District mean Iowa will send its first female representatives to the U.S. House. The state elected its first woman senator in 2014 with the victory of Republican Joni Ernst.
Finkenauer said her campaign was not about what she and her supporters were fighting against. It was what they’re fighting for.
“Tonight we rejected fear and division,” she said. “Tonight, we proved we step up for our friends, our families and our neighbors. This campaign has always been about hope.”
Axne took a similar approach, saying the election was never about party politics.
“When it comes to Washington, corporations and special interests have had their time,” Axne said. “They’ve had their seat at the table but now it’s time for Iowans to have a voice.”
Democrat Dave Loebsack was re-elected to a seventh term representing southeast Iowa’s 2nd District.
Rep. Steve King will be the state’s sole Republican House member, winning his ninth term. He beat Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, though by a much smaller margin than in his previous campaigns.
Democrat Rob Sand also won a closely watched election for state auditor over incumbent Mary Mosiman. Democrat Tom Miller was elected to a 10th term as attorney general, making him the nation’s longest continuously serving state attorney general, and Democrat Michael Fitzgerald also was re-elected treasurer.
Republican Mike Naig also was elected state agriculture secretary, a key role in one of the nation’s leading farm states.
However, one race that drew plenty of attention went to the Republicans as incumbent Secretary of State Paul Pate beat Democrat Deidre DeJear, who sought to be the first African-American elected to statewide office in Iowa.
Both chambers of the Legislature also will likely remain under GOP control, leaving Republicans in the driver seat for state policy.