Apparently, even the present-day Republican party has its limits, as Steve King found out. Not only did the Iowa representative lose a lot of corporate donors (with AT&T just dropping him), but even the head of the Republican National Congressional Committee has thrown King under the bus.
“We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior,” fellow Rep. Steve Stivers said.
Suddenly, King is in a tight race in a district that went for Donald Trump by a 27 point margin in 2016. Democrat J.D. Scholten is within a point of King in a poll and raised $900,000 in the past week.
The cause of King’s problems is King’s full-throated embrace of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He recently endorsed a white supremacist candidate for mayor of Toronto and in the wake of the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue had kind words for an ultra-right group in Austria founded by former Nazis.
None of this is out of character for King. He has been saying reprehensible things for years, with no repercussions. Unsurprisingly, his bigotry has extended to the LGBTQ community. He has compared trans people to castrated slaves and said the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality would lead to people marrying their lawn mowers.
So King’s collapse of support is long overdue. The problem is that he’s hardly the only extremist in Congress, and his fellow radical Republicans aren’t facing the same repercussions. Consider the following incumbents.
Rep. Louie Gohmert
The Texan is every bit King’s match when it comes to offensive comments. He’s compared LGBTQ people to Nazis and once suggested stranding gay and straight people on a desert island for 100 years to “see which one nature favors.” He’s also a fan of the anti-Semitic attacks on philanthropist George Soros.
Despite his extremism, he remains a favorite for re-election.
Sen. Ted Cruz
Cruz is in a fight for his political life against Democrat Beto O’Rourke. He’s almost universally despised by his fellow Senators and the voting public apparently share their disdain.
Cruz suggested that gender reassignment surgery would be mandatory if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, and once happily appeared on stage with a pastor who calls for the death penalty for gay people.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Rohrabacher is best known as Moscow’s favorite Congressman, but he also traffics in LGBTQ phobia. Recently, he suggested that people should have the right not to sell their homes to gay people. He’s also been happy to endorse racist and anti-Semitic candidates.
Rohrabacher is in a tight race in his southern California district, where changing demographics put him at risk of defeat. The GOP leadership may cringe at Rohrabacher but unlike King, they’ve been silent about his bigotry.
Rep. Jason Lewis
This Minnesotan thought that Indiana’s (and Mike Pence’s) religious liberty law didn’t “go far in enough in allowing discrimination” against LGBTQ people. He has also said that black people on welfare were living on a “plantation” and that people receiving government assistance were “parasites.” More recently, a recording surfaced of Lewis mocking women who were victims of sexual harassment.
Lewis is in a tight race with Democrat Angie Craig.
Of course, Congress is populated with similarly extreme Republicans who are running for re-election. There’s also a long list of extremists, including an actual neo-Nazi, who are party nominees and thankfully have little hope of winning.
But it says a lot about the current state of the GOP that it took years for the party to reprimand King for his bigotry and that it’s still silent about the bigotry of other incumbents.