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Republican Jews celebrate Steve King losing primary after white nationalist comments

Iowa Rep. Steve King lost his congressional primary on Tuesday night, putting an bookend to the controversial congressman’s 17-year tenure.

King had for years been criticized for his anti-immigrant views and remarks, but over the past few years had made an increasing number of steps toward outright white nationalism.

State Sen. Randy Feenstra, who defeated King in the primary, received $40,000 in donations from the Republican Jewish Coalition’s political action committee — a rare effort by the conservative Jewish group to unseat a Republican incumbent. “Steve King does not represent the Republican Party and it’s time for him to leave Congress,” RJC executive director Matt Brooks said in a statement. “We are happy that Randy Feenstra, a strong conservative and a friend of Israel, will be our party’s candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 4th district seat this year.” (Full disclosure: I interned for the RJC for a college semester).

King has a long rap sheet of controversial statements and actions. In the summer 2018, he retweeted a British neo-Nazi and refused to apologize over it. Later that year, he endorsed a white nationalist running for mayor of Toronto. During a visit to Europe that year funded by a Holocaust memorial group, King took a side trip to meet with an Austrian political party with longtime Nazi ties.

King narrowly won re-election that year, but the Republican Party decisively broke from him in January 2019 when, in a New York Times interview, he asked when “white supremacist” had become an offensive term.

King was removed from his congressional committees. His newfound lack of influence in Washington, rather than his controversial remarks, was the biggest issue for voters during the Republican primary this year, the Atlantic reported Tuesday.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

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