(JTA) – Rep. Steve King of Iowa, whose record includes inflammatory comments condoning white supremacists and antisemites, lost a hotly contested Republican primary. King, a nine-term congressman, was defeated on Tuesday, June 2, in a five-way race. The winner was state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who was backed by the Republican Jewish Coalition. It is rare for the organization to endorse a primary challenger to a sitting Republican lawmaker.
King, 71, was removed from two House committees in 2019 after he told a New York Times reporter that he wondered why the term “white supremacist” had become offensive. The previous year he met in Austria with members of the far-right Freedom Party, founded by a former SS officer, after participating on a trip to Poland sponsored by a Holocaust education group. Jewish leaders in Iowa condemned King for expressing anti-immigrant rhetoric similar to that of the shooter who killed 11 Jews at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October 2018.
In New Mexico, Valerie Plame, the CIA operative who became famous due to retaliatory leaks by the Bush administration after her diplomat husband disputed U.S. intelligence used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was defeated in her bid for the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat. It was the first foray into politics for Plame, who has Jewish roots. Plame announced in late 2019 that she had joined a synagogue in Santa Fe after learning that her great-grandfather was a rabbi who fled Ukraine at the turn of the 19th century.
Main Photo: Steve King, shown at House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)