Kim Weaver, the Iowa Democrat running to unseat Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in the 2018 midterm elections, dropped out of the race on Saturday evening. The Democratic candidate — who also challenged King, unsuccessfully, in the 2016 election — said she had received a series of death threats that influenced her decision.
“Beginning during my 2016 campaign, I have received very alarming acts of intimidation, including death threats,” said Weaver in a Facebook post. “While some may say enduring threats are just a part of running for office, my personal safety has increasingly become a concern.”
She also cited her mother’s ill health as a reason for dropping out of the race and said she would be moving to Des Moines, Iowa, to spend more time with her.
It’s unclear who will replace Weaver. And while it’s similarly unclear who was threatening Weaver, King is known to have a numerous fans on the white supremacist fringe. After the congressman posted a racist tweet in March endorsing the Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, online white nationalist communities dubbed him “King Steve” and praised him for standing up to “the anti-white establishment.”
Even after other Republicans condemned King’s tweet — which argued, “We can’t restore civilization with somebody else’s babies” — the congressman refused to back down. Pressed about it on CNN, he replied, “I meant exactly what I said.”
The New York Times later reported that King’s extreme anti-immigrant positions had alienated even some conservatives in his district.
But King’s amicable relations with European right-wing populists go farther back than one tweet. With the possible exception of top White House adviser Steve Bannon, no current Republican official has been more assiduous in cultivating links with ethno-nationalists on the other side of the Atlantic. In addition to praising Wilders, King has praised authoritarian Hungarian President Viktor Orban and fraternized with crypto-fascist demagogues from Germany, France, and Austria.
UPDATE: King has responded to Weaver’s exit from the race by baselessly accusing her of inventing the death threats.
I wanted #KimWeaver IN the race-not out. Democrats drove her out of the race-not R's. Death threats likely didn't happen but a fabrication.
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 4, 2017
He has yet to provide any evidence that the threats were a “fabrication,” or that “Democrats drove [Weaver] out of the race.”