Challenger Randy Feenstra, a state senator, officially beat King by a margin of 36,797 to 28,977 votes, with 100% of precincts reporting, according to The New York Times. Feenstra, who won by a margin of just under 10 points, will go on to face Democrat J.D. Scholten in November.
King, who was stripped of his committee assignments after expressing sympathy for white nationalists and white supremacists, later denounced the ideologies. But King already had a long and established history of racist comments under his belt.
The congressman’s loss comes amid historic protests for racial justice from coast to coast for following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. The timing did not go unnoticed by political commentators.
“For Rep Steve King, master of racism in Congress, to lose his GOP primary tonight, seems somehow fitting?” MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell tweeted after the race was called.
For Rep Steve King, master of racism in Congress, to lose his GOP primary tonight, seems somehow fitting?
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) June 3, 2020
King’s loss was cheered by both sides of the political aisle, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Known by her initials, AOC was voted into the most diverse Congress ever in the 2018 midterm elections.
“Goodbye, Rep. Steve King. You are certainly not the only white supremacist in federal government, but you were among the most prominent,” she tweeted. “It’s a shame Republicans held you up as long as they did.”
Goodbye, Rep. Steve King. You are certainly not the only white supremacist in federal government, but you were among the most prominent.
It’s a shame Republicans held you up as long as they did.
SEE YA 👋🏽 https://t.co/tymvh0hwLR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 3, 2020
Meghan McCain, the daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain who sits in the conservative seat on “The View,” also did not mince words.
“Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out,” she wrote on Twitter.
Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. https://t.co/hol8LC5srg
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) June 3, 2020
King’s fate was sealed as President Donald Trump faced mounting criticism after police backed by the National Guard unleashed tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang shells against peaceful protesters to clear a path for the president’s photo-op taken holding a Bible in front of historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.
King had been almost universally denounced after he questioned criticisms of terms used to identify white racists.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” King asked during a controversial interview with the Times in January 2019.
But King was only stripped of his committee assignments last year after questioning whether there would “be any population of the world left” without rape or incest. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., had called for his resignation and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested he “find another line of work.” As King’s influence deteriorated, his campaign chest dried up amid struggles to attract donors.
King has also been criticized for bragging that water from a sink attached to a toilet at a migrant detention facility tasted “pretty good” amid a national outcry over squalid conditions at the centers. He once joked about imprisoned Muslims who were forced to eat pork in China.
In addition to his comments about white supremacy, King had previously said that “our civilization” can’t be restored with “somebody else’s babies.” He also predicted that “Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other” before non-whites outnumber whites, and had speculated that black people could more easily afford abortions if they stopped buying iPhones.
Salon’s Matthew Rozsa contributed to this report.