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Iowa governor won't support Rep. Steve King over primary challenger

Emily Kopp, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds indicated Wednesday she won't support Republican Rep. Steve King over his primary challenger in 2020.

The Republican governor's rebuke of the congressman comes on the heels of an announcement by Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra that he will run against King for his 4th District seat.

"I'll stay out of the primary, but I think it's a reflection of the last election," Reynolds said in an interview with WHO. "The last election was a wakeup call for it to be that close. That indicates that it does open the door for other individuals to take a look at that."

"That was an indication that people weren't happy," Reynolds continued.

Behind the scenes, Reynolds and Feenstra share a link: Feenstra's campaign media contact, Matt Leopold, was Reynolds' political director during her 2018 campaign.

King drew renewed criticism late last year over racist remarks and posts on social media linked to white nationalists. The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to support him even as his race tightened.

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King ended up narrowly winning re-election by 3 points, defeating Democratic lawyer JD Scholten in the solidly Republican district in northwest Iowa. President Donald Trump carried the seat by 27 points in 2016, and Republicans enjoy an advantage of roughly 70,000 more registered voters in the district.

Reynolds won her election by roughly the same narrow margin, a fact that King's office has used to deflect from prior criticism of him by the governor.

But even as Reynolds has distanced herself from King, their public statements have been cordial.

In the interview Wednesday, Reynolds described King as "a friend."

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