Republican Congressman Steve King is dismissing the suggestion he may face a primary challenge from within his own party in 2016 if he continues to make controversial comments. Doug Gross was the GOP’s nominee for governor in 2002 and once served as chief of staff for Governor Terry Branstad
“I’m frankly, as a Republican, as one who’s been involved in our party for a long time, sick and tired of what Steve King is saying,” Gross said during an appearance on WHO TV’s “Insiders” program last weekend.
Gross said he is often “dumbfounded” by the things King says, especially King’s comments about illegal immigrants. King responded to the criticism Tuesday during a radio interview.
“You know, on what basis would he say such a thing?” King said, laughing. “I think that my votes and my statements reflect a platform and whatever may be troubling him, I don’t think he was specific about that.”
According to Gross, many Iowans — including Republicans — are growing weary of King’s rhetoric.
“I think he likes attention sometimes more than he understands the impact of what he says,” Gross said. “…Frankly, I would suspect that if he keeps this up, in 2016 I think it’s very likely Steve King will have a Republican Primary opponent.”
Gross argued King “doesn’t represent the Republican Party” when King uses words that “degrade and dehumanize” illegal immigrants. King sparked controversy this summer when he argued there are more drug runners than valedictorians among so-called “Dreamers” who were brought into the country illegally when they were children.
“I haven’t yet run into critics that are willing to challenge me on the facts and so I think it’s important for a rational country to deal with facts and if we can’t have a rational discussion based on facts, then it becomes just emotionalism,” King said.
King spoke at recent rally and vigil in Omaha for a 93-year-old woman who was allegedly murdered by a 19-year-old illegal immigrant. King argued the tally of Americans who’ve been killed by illegal immigrants is larger than the number of Americans who were killed on September 11, 2001.
(Reporting by Bob Fisher of KLSS in Mason City & by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)