Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Other Democrats Celebrate Defeat of 'White Supremacist' Steve King

Democrats are celebrating the ousting of one of the most divisive figures in U.S. politics as Steve King, a Republican representative with a history of making racist remarks, was defeated in Tuesday's GOP primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district.

After serving nine terms in Congress, King lost his bid to stand once again as the GOP nominee in his district to state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who had been seen as King's toughest competition in a five-way race.

In a video posted to Facebook early Wednesday morning, King said he had "called Randy Feenstra a little bit ago and conceded the race to him."

"And I pointed out that there's some powerful elements in the swamp that he's going to have an awfully hard time pushing back against them," King said.

While Feenstra responded by thanking King for his "decades of public service," Democrats across the country celebrated his ousting as an important victory, condemning King, an immigration hardliner, as a "racist" and "white supremacist".

In a statement published on Twitter, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, welcomed the news of King's defeat, writing: "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."

California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu said, "Pleased that Rep. Steve King was defeated. One racist down. Many more to go. Vote this November."

Democratic Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz also appeared to celebrate the development, but he also questioned why King's fall from power had taken so long.

"The point is not that racist Republican Steve King lost," Schatz said. "The point is that he was, for at least a couple of elections, one of the most important endorsements that a Republican presidential contender could get in Iowa."

The point is not that racist Republican Steve King lost. The point is that he was, for at least a couple of elections, one of the most important endorsements that a Republican presidential contender could get in Iowa.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 3, 2020

King has long been accused of racism, but it was only relatively recently that he began to face scrutiny from his own party, including last year, after he questioned why terms like "white supremacy" and "white nationalists" are considered offensive. King made the comments during an interview with The New York Times.

He later defended them, during a House floor speech, claiming his words had been mischaracterized. King said that he regretted "the heartburn that has poured forth" following his interview and said he wanted to "make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define."

"As I told The New York Times, it's not about race, it's never been about race," he said. "Under any fair political definition, I am simply a nationalist."

However, in his interview, King had not minced words, saying: "White nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization—how did that language become offensive?"

The year prior, King had also faced criticism for supporting a Toronto mayoral candidate who had been fired from a Canadian far-right website for choosing to appear on a neo-Nazi podcast.

In 2017, he also said he did not believe diversity was America's strength and said: "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."

King's ousting comes amid protests across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, despite Floyd already being handcuffed and warning that he could not breathe.

In the wake of Floyd's death on May 25, U.S. residents across the country have been calling for an end to police brutality, as well as for the U.S. to reckon with systemic racism in not only policing, but society as a whole.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addresses supporters during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on March 8, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ocasio-Cortez branded Rep. Steve King a 'white supremacist' as she celebrated his ousting in the GOP primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district. Brittany Greeson/Getty