Wed, 08 Jul 2020

WASHINGTON - Steve King, a long-time Iowa congressman who had been stripped of power by his Republican overseers in Washington after a string of racist and anti-immigrant comments, was defeated in a party primary election on Tuesday.

Republican voters in a rural Iowa congressional district ousted King, who has held the congressional seat in the U.S. heartland for more than 17 years. State senator Randy Feenstra defeated King and now is favored in the November election against Democrat J.D. Scholten, who narrowly lost to King in 2018.

"I called Randy Feenstra a little bit ago and conceded the race to him," King said in a video posted to Facebook early Wednesday. "And I pointed out that there's some powerful elements in the swamp that he's going to have an awfully hard time pushing back against them."

U.S. President Donald Trump praised Feenstra's victory, tweeting, "Congratulations to Randy Feenstra on your big win in the Iowa Republican Primary. You will be a great Congressman!"

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives had stripped King of his committee assignments last year after he questioned in a New York Times interview how the terms "white nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization" had become offensive. King has long voiced opposition to undocumented immigrants, saying in 2016 that "cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end."

King, in his bid for another two-year term, attacked Republican leaders for leading the push to render him powerless in Washington.

"The Never Trumpers are the people who ginned this all up," King said at a recent debate. "This comes from an effort to push out the strongest voice for full spectrum, constitutional Christian conservatism that exists in the United States Congress."

But conservative groups financially supported Feenstra in the party contest, starving King of campaign funding.

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Voters went to polls in eight states for party elections on Tuesday, with four of the states voting after delaying earlier scheduled election days because of the ongoing threat of the spread of the coronavirus. The balloting also came in the midst of high unemployment in the U.S. wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing daily protests about the death of a black man last week while he was in police custody.

Another prominent figure who fell short was Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent whose identity was revealed in 2003 by government officials after her then husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly raised doubts about the administration of former President George W. Bush's reasons for invading Iraq.

Plame was soundly defeated in her campaign for the Democratic nomination for a House seat in New Mexico by Teresa Leger Fernandez, a civil rights lawyer with deep ties to the district.

Meanwhile, a local race that caught national attention was held in Ferguson, Missouri, where voters elected Ella Jones as the city's first African-American and first female mayor.

Ferguson became a flashpoint for race relations and police mistreatment of blacks in 2014 after the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown during a confrontation with a white police officer. Jones's election comes amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died last week after he was held down on a city street by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, even as he repeatedly said he could not breathe.

Former Vice President Joe Biden moved closer to officially securing the Democratic presidential nomination to run against Trump in the Nov. 3 national election after winning several state primary elections Tuesday. Biden has been the presumptive Democratic nominee after his last major opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the contest and endorsed him.

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