Democrats tried in vain to unseat white nationalist Rep. Steve King in both 2012 and 2014 in western Iowa’s conservative 4th District, so J.D. Scholten very much has his work cut out for him as he tries once again next week. However, a new poll suggests the Republican incumbent could finally be in for a reckoning. A survey from the Democratic firm Change Research gives King just a 45-44 edge even though this district voted 53-45 for Romney and went for Trump by an even wider 61-34 margin.
King's campaign, however, very quickly responded with a own poll of their own from WPA Intelligence putting the congressman up by a hefty 52-34 margin. We haven't seen any other polls since early September, so we don't have a good sense for who is closer to the mark. At the very least, though, King is acting like he thinks he's safe. Scholten, a former baseball player for the local Sioux City Explorers, outraised King by an enormous $923,000 to $227,000 from July 1 to Oct. 17, and as a result, Scholten has reportedly been running TV ads unanswered for two weeks while King has yet to air a single advertisement.
What King’s been doing rather than running ads is rubbing shoulders with international white supremacist candidates and hate groups. This includes an August meeting with the Austrian Freedom Party, which has historical ties to the Nazi Party, that King took during a trip to Eastern Europe that, gallingly, was paid for by a Holocaust memorial group.
During this same trip, King also gave an interview to a website allied with the Freedom Party where he asked what diversity brings to America "that we don’t have that is worth the price? We have a lot of diversity within the U.S. already." King also used that same interview to call Jewish financial George Soros a force behind the "Great Replacement," a view prevalent among the far-right that white Europeans are being deliberately "replaced" by people of color in a scheme fomented by Jews.
Congressional Republican and King's donors have tolerated his racism for years with at most just minor rebukes, but a few of them went a bit further than usual on Tuesday. The Minnesota dairy company Land O'Lakes, which was facing calls for boycotts over its donations to King, at last decided that they wouldn't contribute to him anymore.
And even NRCC chair Steve Strivers, who just a day after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre defended the anti-Semitic ads his committee has been running, tweeted out a condemnation. Stivers declared that King's "recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate." He added, "We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior." That's all mild stuff given everything that King has been doing for so long, but it's more than he's gotten from his allies up till now.
Scholten is also running a commercial that highlights more of King's extracurricular activities. The narrator charges that King is "creating headlines at home for the wrong reasons," as local newspapers appear on-screen with the headlines "Steve King backs white nationalist for Toronto mayor" and "King backs white nationalist." However, most of the ad hits King for using taxpayer money at a private club and on taxpayer trips. Another Scholten commercial features several local Republicans calling King "divisive" and "angry," and praising the Democrat for actually being a presence in the district.
It's still going to take a lot for this message to resonate with voters who have supported King for so long and also overwhelmingly backed Trump. Still, it's possible that King has finally alienated just enough conservatives to give Scholten an opening. Daily Kos Elections is therefore moving this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.