Steve King encountered his toughest opponent of his congressional career, but emerged Tuesday night with a victory and a ninth term representing Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District.
King, the Republican from Kiron, defeated Democrat J.D. Scholten of Sioux City by just more than three points last night. The GOP Congressman received 50.33 percent of the vote, while Scholten tallied 46.96 percent.
In his victory speech last night in Sioux City, King credited his supporters and their faith for the victory, despite a barrage of negative media coverage in the campaign’s closing weeks.
“You knew the truth all along and you guarded my back,” King said. “You guarded it at the coffee shops, you guarded it at the dinner table, you guarded it in church. You prayed for this campaign. And that’s the margin, isn’t it? The margin’s prayer. In fact, I think we might have lost in a landslide if it hadn’t been for prayer.”
In his victory speech, which was posted on YouTube by the Sioux City Journal, King spent most of 13 minutes railing against media attacks, criticizing “the left” and other opponents, and questioning those who voted against him.
According to multiple reports, King’s campaign screened and barred certain media members from covering the election night event in Sioux City.
Steve King staff and hotel staff just shooed me, Storm Lake Times’ Tom Cullen and Weekly Standard’s @RubensteinAdam away from King’s election night event at Stoney Creek Inn. I’ve never had that happen in 30 years as an Iowa journalist. They rented the room, so it’s legal – but..
— Tony Leys (@tonyleys) November 7, 2018
At the event, King told supporters the attacks were an attempt to “Kavanaugh-ize me like this state has never seen, and maybe America has never seen.”
King has frequently been criticized for comments that have been called racist or xenophobic. He’s also been criticized for sharing his support of far-right individuals, some who have white nationalist and neo-Nazi ties.
Last month, King told the Signal the allegations brought up over his statements are “ridiculous” and not based in “logical thought.”
King also questioned whether the people who voted against him thought he had somehow changed over the last 25 years he’s represented them.
“How could anybody throw all that we’ve accomplished here over the side on these false allegations that they about knew had to be false?” King asked last night. “Did the people that voted against this campaign, did they actually walk into the voting booth and think, ‘That guy changed…’?”
Voters supported King’s opponent this time around more than they ever have.
In his concession speech, Scholten said he was “damn proud of everything we’ve accomplished.”
He also alluded to his two political heroes, Berkley Bedell and Tom Harkin, noting they both lost their first races.
“You haven’t seen the last of J.D. Scholten,” he said in a tweet.
“My two political heroes, Berkley Bedell and Tom Harkin both lost their first race. You haven’t seen the last of J.D. Scholten!” pic.twitter.com/xX7Jq8vjT9
— J.D. Scholten (@Scholten4Iowa) November 7, 2018
King told his supporters that Scholten called to congratulate the congressman on the night’s results.
The congressman recalled their phone call:
“He congratulated me on the victory and he said, ‘I’ve said this throughout the campaign and I’m want to say it to you’ – and I’m not going to get the words exactly right, but he said, you know – ‘I want you to be as good a congressman as you can be and represent this district as good as you can. That’s pretty much the theme he talked about throughout the campaign and I take it as sincere.”
King said he told Scholten the phone call he made was a call “that a gentleman would make.” He credited Scholten’s campaign for traveling the district, meeting many people and making friends.
With the election behind him, King says he’s changing his strategy on how he responds to criticism and “name-calling.” He said his usual response to “name-calling” was to give no response.
“Come tomorrow morning, or event tonight, we are going to answer all of these charges,” King said to applause. “Every time they come up, we’re going to chase them down to the original.”
For more election results, and to see how Clay County voted, see the Signal’s complete election results.