All posts by Mitch Kerr

The Hill: Midwest Dem candidate: Farm aid plan like getting ‘punched in the face’

One Midwest Democratic House candidate said he isn’t impressed with President Trump’s $12 billion farm aid plan.

J.D. Scholten (D-Iowa) told Hill.TV that farmers in his district are still reeling from the impact of Trump’s trade tariffs.

“When it came out this week about the $12 billion – it’s like if you get punched in the face and then you get an ice pack,” Scholten told co-host Krystal Ball on “Rising.”

Scholten said farmers were struggling even before Trump took a hardline stance on trade policies, pointing to what he sees as a larger, underlying systemic problem that plagues the agriculture industry.

“Farmers have had a lot of anxiety before it even came to the tariffs…we need to get into more markets,” Scholten said.

“Right now, I see a lot of farmers, they don’t really know what to think – they’re worried about this year’s harvest,” Scholten told Hill.TV. “The pork producers and dairy folks, they’re getting hit right now.”

Scholten is running against Iowa’s fourth district incumbent, Rep. Steve King (R), who represents the largest farm district in the state.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled the aid plan on Tuesday, calling it a short-term fix intended to provide “time to work on long-term trade deals.”

The newly proposed package was met with criticism from midwestern lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) said in a statement that America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world.”

On Wednesday, Trump pleaded with farmers to “be a little patient” and claimed that farmers would “be the biggest beneficiary” of his trade policies.

— Tess Bonn

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SCJ: J.D. Scholten again outraises Rep. Steve King in Iowa 4th District race

SIOUX CITY — For the third straight quarter, Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten brought in more campaign donations than eight-term incumbent Republican Rep. Steve King.

Scholten, a former paralegal and professional baseball player from Sioux City, raised $269,162 in the three-month period ending June 30. That’s more than triple the $70,601 King collected during the most recent quarter, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.

Scholten finished with $254,566 cash on hand after spending $209,944 in the quarter. After $40,298 in expenditures, King, of Kiron, had $117,554 in the bank at the end of the period.

“As a first-time candidate, competing against an eight-term incumbent who receives so much of his money from corporate PACs is not easy,” Scholten said in a statement. “I’m incredibly proud that our people-powered movement is fueled by grassroots support, as we’ve received donations now from over 11,000 individual donors.”

Scholten, who defeated two other candidates in the June primary to win the Democratic nomination is a decided underdog against King in the 4th District, the most Republican in the state. About 40 percent of voters in the district, which covers 39 counties in Northwest and North central Iowa, are registered Republicans, while 25 percent are Democrats and the rest are no party.

The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan political analysis service, rates the King-Scholten race as “Solid Republican.” Citing his fundraising prowess and growing connection with district voters, Scholten claims he has a real shot at unseating King, one of the most outspoken conservatives in the House.

A string of controversial King’s comments on immigration has led to a surge of Democratic donors from across the country contributing to his general election opponent. For the third straight quarter, Scholten’s campaign received at least one donation from each county in the district and all 50 states.

King’s campaign did not immediately reply to the Journal’s request to comment on the most recent campaign reports.

King, who formerly owned an earth moving construction business in western Iowa, edged Scholten for contributions in 2017, finishing with receipts of $246,592, compared to $174,643 for Scholten. But in the the last three quarters, Scholten built a more than 2-to-1 fundraising advantage — $719,000 to $353,000.

Libertarian Party nominee Chris Aldrich also will be on the 4th District ballot in November. As of Wednesday, campaign finance information for Aldrich was not available through the FCC website.

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Spencer Daily Reporter: Local Democrats rally ahead of November elections

After a primary season with a smorgasbord of potential candidates to choose from, Clay County Democrats emphasized the importance of party unity while showing optimism in their chances of winning back Iowa’s governorship and the 4th Congressional District from Republicans.

“I attended the Democratic Party State Convention and I witnessed a lot of unity and passion moving forward,” Clay County Democratic Party central committee member Jared Gerlock said. “I had the chance to hear all the candidates speak. There was a lot that I liked about each of those candidates. For the Iowa District 4 race, we had a local candidate, Leann Jacobsen and I liked her, but I also liked J,D, Scholten. I had a chance to speak with him one-on-one and I found him likable. On the statewide ticket, Fred Hubbell wasn’t my first choice, but I like his stances on the issues and I think he will run a very effective campaign. ”

Local Democrat Dave Saboe also expressed a sense of hope regarding the party’s chance heading into November. Though he supported gubernatorial candidate John Norris because of his government experience, and Jacobsen because of her local appeal, he said both Scholten and Hubbell are candidates who represent many of the common ideals uniting the Democratic Party.

“Health care, but mental health especially, economic development and fair and equitable taxes, in other words make sure you tax everybody whether it be a corporation or an individual are issues we can unite around,” Saboe said. “We are worried about the uninsured. We want businesses to invest in Iowa from the ground up. Fiscal mismanagement in the present situation is not right. We have to fix that. Helping hold down tuition at community colleges and technical schools and increase funding to our K-12 schools.”

Gerlock and Saboe agreed on the importance of spreading the party’s message and “hitting the streets” before November’s election. Gerlock said there are many ways to get involved through the Clay County Democrats website, their Facebook and Twitter presence and by attending the party’s monthly meeting which is conducted at the Spencer Public Library at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of every month.

“I think there is a sense of urgency right now,” Gerlock said. “We see the results of the Trump administration and we are not happy with it. Democrats feel we could do a better job governing and we see the need to hold the Trump administration accountable which is not being done by the current congress.”

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Vox – Steve King is a racist, and conservatives don’t want to talk about it

A longtime Republican member of Congress is retweeting Nazis and arguing in interviews that Somali Muslims shouldn’t be permitted to work in meatpacking plants in his district — and no GOP official appears to want to publicly challenge him.

The Republican is Rep. Steve King, an Iowan congressman who has served in the House of Representatives since 2003. He has a lengthy history of racist remarks that seem to go largely undiscussed by his fellow Republicans.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was more than happy to ask Rep. Maxine Waters to apologize for her comments at a rally, has denounced King’s comments only through his press secretary. Ryan’s spokesperson said, “The Speaker has said many times that Nazis have no place in our politics, and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.”

Lately conservatives are trying to pivot to a discussion of “civility” after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant on Friday because the owner disagreed with the administration’s policies. Yet King’s race-baiting and coy references to white nationalism remain “just kind of white noise,” according to a Republican who tried to challenge him in a 2016 primary.

But why?

The long, nativist history of Steve King
Steve King’s love of far-right sound bites isn’t new. In fact, in his estimation it’s the very foundation for his political career and even served as the basis of his first run for office. As Talking Points Memo detailed in a 2014 profile of King:

During the (Iowa Senate) campaign, he stumbled upon his signature issue in the legislature: English as the official language. He remembers the moment, down to the exact date. During an October 10, 1996 fundraiser at Yellow Smoke Park sponsored by then-Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, he made the speech that shaped his political future. “I was running through my topics and I said, ‘And I believe English should be the official language of the state of Iowa.’ And it just brought the house down. There was this huge applause,” King says. “I knew how strongly I believed in it. But I didn’t know how strongly they believed in it.”

Kings remarks came at a time of increased concern among Iowans over demographic change within their state resulting from immigrants arriving to work in factories and on farms. Such concern ended up giving populist and anti-immigrant sentiment real clout.

In fact, the same year that King gave his “English should be the state language” speech, paleoconservative nativist Patrick Buchanan was hosting rallies about an hour’s car drive north of Iowa’s Yellow Smoke Park, saying very much the same, as the New York Times reported in February 1996:

Meanwhile, at a restaurant next door to the motel, Patrick J. Buchanan spoke at a noontime rally this month and sought out a local newspaper reporter to denounce a local meat-packing plant for hiring what he said were illegal aliens. Then, he demanded that English be designated the United States’ official language.

Within the House of Representatives, King’s role is relatively small; his only leadership position is on the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and civil justice. And he’s not particularly popular among mainstream Republicans. One conservative writer described him to me as “marginal.” Another commentator and pundit told me that King was “a joke” and “a stupid asshole.”

But all this and King’s nativist rhetoric have not prevented him from becoming an incredibly important figure among conservatives. As National Review wrote in 2015, “The outspoken congressman commands tremendous influence among conservatives who agree with his staunch stances on immigration, abortion, and same-sex marriage, especially in his western Iowa district.”

And his endorsement — and the Iowa Freedom Summit where Republican presidential candidates tried to impress him — played a massive role in the Iowa’s 2016 Republican presidential primary (though many Republicans didn’t particularly enjoy it.)

King’s racist rhetoric
But most Republicans, particularly those in the Midwest, have not embraced nativist politics — and white supremacist politics — to the extent that King has, particularly over the last decade.

King keeps a small version of the Confederate flag on his desk. (Never mind that Iowa was a Union state during the Civil War.) In 2008 King said that if Barack Hussein Obama won the presidency, “The radical Islamists, the al Qaeda … would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror.” He later explained that they would supposedly do so because of Obama’s middle name.

In 2016 King filed an amendment to block efforts to place the image of abolitionist luminary Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill: He criticized “liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups.” And in a 2017 interview, speaking about upcoming demographic changes whereby nonwhite Americans would surpass white Americans in population, he said, “I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.” (During that same interview, he recommended right-wight strategist Steve Bannon’s favorite and extremely racist book, The Camp of the Saints.)

Why good Republicans ignore bad (and racist) tweets
The Republican response to King has been muted, to say the least. When King tweeted about “someone else’s babies,” Speaker Paul Ryan said that he “would like to think he misspoke.”

And even in the midst of the ongoing conversation about civility among members of the GOP, especially in reaction to Rep. Maxine Waters’s statements at a rally that have been widely condemned by Republicans and some Democrats, Republicans have remained quiet about King’s continued comments.

When I spoke to Jay Cost, a conservative writer and historian who writes for National Review and the Weekly Standard, he said that the reason for the Republican silence on King was simple: It’s easier, and better for Republicans.

“Republicans making hay out of the [Maxine Waters] thing advances the goal of electing more Republicans, while focusing on King impedes it,” he told me. Cost added that the situation presented by King is similar to the prior scenario with Ron Paul, a former Republican member of Congress and a Libertarian Party candidate for president: There is little Republican leaders can do to control someone who is a giant pest but who hasn’t technically broken any rules of the chamber.

“There is virtually nothing they can do about King, anyway, even if they wanted to (and they probably would like to),” Cost wrote me in an email. “Leadership has certain strings they can pull with their members, but not as many as they’d like us to think.”

And despite King’s rhetoric, he keeps winning elections in a Iowa district that’s still quite conservative and very worried about immigration. In 2016 one potential Democratic challenger to King even dropped out, after claiming to have received death threats. Nonetheless, King does have a Democratic challenger in 2018: former professional baseball player J.D. Scholten.

For now, Steve King has no reason not to tweet. And there’s no reason for Republicans to stop him — and they’re not going to try.

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Roll Call – Steve King Refuses to Apologize for Retweeting Nazi Sympathizer

Iowa Rep. Steve King defended retweeting a Nazi sympathizer Tuesday and said he would neither apologize nor delete the tweet.

King told CNN he did not realize that the person he retweeted earlier this month, Mark Collett, was a Nazi sympathizer who has spoken favorably of Adolf Hitler.

Collett had tweeted about how a majority of younger Italians opposed mass migration. King quoted the tweet and added, “Europe is waking up…Will America…in time?”

King said he had never heard of Collett before retweeting him.

“I think it’s really unjust for anyone to assign the beliefs of someone else because there’s a message there among all of that. I mean, it’s the message, not the messenger,” the Iowa Republican said.

But King refused to apologize for the message, even if he didn’t agree with the messenger.

“Because then it would be like I’m admitting that I did something, now I’m sorry about it. I’m not sorry, I’m human,” he said.

King further expanded by saying the United States is a “Judeo-Christian” country and he doesn’t agree with creating “enclaves in America that are the antithesis of Americanism.”

King told CNN he was walking between meetings when he retweeted a Breitbart article that Collett had shared.

“It’s pretty simple. I tweeted a Breitbart story, I didn’t tweet a message from [Collett],” he said.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman offered muted criticism and didn’t mention King’s name when she said, “The speaker has said many times that Nazis have no place in our politics, and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.”

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Iowa State Daily – Activists protest at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa office

A swath of protesters populated the sidewalk in front of Congressman Steve King’s office on Monday afternoon.

The protest was organized by NextGen Iowa. Those in attendance called King racist and condemned various statements he has made, as well as positions he has held.

“A lot of people think that, because this executive order was signed last week, this issue is solved and it’s over with,” said Mara Kealey, an organizer with NextGen Iowa. That is not the case at all. There are still 2,000 separated families with no transition plan at all, and, at the end of the day, Steve King is still our representative. He is letting this go on. We want the Ames community, the ISU community and everyone to know: Steve King is a blatant racist; he doesn’t represent any immigrant values.”

Haley Hager, the Ames director for NextGen Iowa, said the group is working to replace Steve King in November.

“We are mobilizing and showing Steve King that we won’t stand up with his hateful rhetoric,” Hager said. “We are showing him that we will vote for progressive leaders like J.D. Scholten in November.”

Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Joni Landeros, an organizer with NetGen Iowa and a junior in anthropology at Iowa State.

“[Steve King] has established the idea that it’s okay to be racist among folks of privilege,” Landeros said. “Who aren’t affected by his laws.”

Chelle Bee, a member of the Choctaw tribe and Ames resident, addressed the crowd about the persecution of Indigenous peoples of North America. Bee also took issue with the practices and policies of King and the Trump administration.

“We’re disgusted at being represented by such an individual,” Bee said.

Bee also criticized what she sees as a lack of empathy when saying something she wishes to say to King.

“I imagine staying hard and callous is much easier than caring, for someone like you, and I feel sorry for you,” Bee said.

King has come under criticism at various times in his career as a representative. Recently, King has faced criticism for support of policies that separated children from parents at the Mexican border and retweeting a British fascist in support of stopping the entrance of migrants into the United States.

NextGen America is a political nonprofit, of which NextGen Iowa is a branch of. NextGen America began as an environmental advocacy group and has since expanded their scope to include immigrant rights and health care, according to their website.

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The Washington Post – Rep. Steve King’s campaign ties Parkland’s Emma González to ‘communist’ Cuba

In one of the most publicized moments at Saturday’s March for Our Lives, 18-year-old Emma González stood on the stage in complete silence, weeping. She marked the six minutes and 20 seconds that claimed the lives of 17 people at her high school in Parkland, Fla. And on her olive-green jacket, she wore several sewn-on patches, including a Cuban flag.

That flag, representing González’s Cuban heritage, became the subject of attacks from some conservatives online over the weekend. And on Sunday afternoon, one of those critical messages appeared on the Facebook page for the campaign of a U.S. congressman: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

“This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense,” said the post, which also included a photo of González at the lectern Saturday.

The meme, which was posted by King’s campaign team, prompted hundreds of comments, many of them criticizing the congressman and defending González.

“Are you SERIOUSLY mocking a school shooting survivor for her ethnic identity?!” wrote Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. “When it was my community, where were you? When it was Sandy Hook? Columbine? Were you on the sideline mocking those communities too? Did you question someone identifying as a mother? Did you question whether people like me were crisis actors?

“Emma stood for 6 mins and 20 seconds to honor the lives of 17 gone too soon,” Wolf added. “The least you could do is shut your privileged, ineffective trap for 6 seconds to hear someone else’s perspective.”

King’s campaign team promptly and defiantly fired back at individual comments, creating a heated exchange on the Facebook post.

“Pointing out the irony of someone wearing the flag of a communist country while simultaneously calling for gun control isn’t ‘picking’ on anyone,” the campaign team responded to Wolf’s comment. “It’s calling attention to the truth, but we understand that lefties find that offensive.”

Reached for comment early Monday by The Washington Post, a spokesman for King’s campaign said that the King for Congress Facebook page is managed by the campaign team, not the congressman himself.

“And the meme in question obviously isn’t an attack on her ‘heritage’ in any way,” the spokesman wrote in an email. “It merely points out the irony of someone pushing gun control while wearing the flag of a country that was oppressed by a communist, anti-gun regime. Pretty simple, really.”

González has become a prominent face of the student-led movement against gun violence since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And she has not been shy about explaining her various identities.

“My Name is Emma González. I’m 18 years old, Cuban and bisexual,” she wrote in an essay in Harper’s Bazaar last month. “But none of this matters anymore. What matters is that the majority of American people have become complacent in a senseless injustice that occurs all around them.”

Her father immigrated to New York from Cuba in 1968, Univision has reported. Emma was born in the United States. As Univision wrote, González does not speak Spanish, “but her voice reveals the heritage of the communicative passion of mixed Hispanics with oratory skills perfected at school.”

Other images attacking the teenager’s Cuban heritage circulated in conservative circles online.

“Emma Gonzales, wearing the flag of an authoritarian communist nation. Makes sense, they both hate an armed citizenry,” stated one meme shared on Reddit’s conservative page r/TheDonald. It was shared on social media through variations of the theme, including one by conservative commentator Andrew Wilkow.

Critics made other attempts to discredit González over the weekend, most prominently through a fake photo of the teenager tearing the U.S. Constitution in half. The doctored image and animation was lifted from a Teen Vogue story about teenage activists. In the real image, González is ripping apart a gun-range target.

Earlier this month, a Republican candidate for the Maine state House, Leslie Gibson, described González as a “skinhead lesbian,” referencing her short buzz cut.

“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson wrote in a tweet, which was later deleted.

Gibson, who was running unopposed for Maine’s House, so outraged other politicians that two entered the race to oppose him. Gibson then quit as a candidate.

In her Harper’s Bazaar essay, González addressed the adults who have criticized the Parkland student activists, writing that “if you have ever felt what it’s like to deal with all of this, you would know we aren’t doing this for attention.

“If these funerals were for your friends, you would know this grief is real, not paid for,” she said. “We are children who are being expected to act like adults, while the adults are proving themselves to behave like children.”

The Des Moines Register, in an editorial the day before the Parkland shootings, called on Iowa Republicans to oust King in the 2018 Republican primary, calling him “one of the least effective members of Congress” who “thrives” on “outlandish” and “incendiary observations.”

King is known for making inflammatory remarks about immigrants. In April of last year, he posted a photo of a beer on Twitter, offering a toast to immigration authorities for deporting a “dreamer.”

A month earlier, he commended nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilders with a tweet saying, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He had previously celebrated Wilders, stating that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”

And in 2012, King compared vetting immigrants to picking out a hunting dog.

“You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest,” he said at a town hall, “not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner.”

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