Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) criticized the National Republican Congressional Committee on Monday for supporting a candidate for Congress who is gay.
“They sent money over to support a candidate in a primary in California who had a same-sex partner that they put all over glossy mailers,” King said at an event Monday night, footage of which was posted online by a Democratic campaign tracker. “That’s hard to write a check to those guys when they do that, so I’m hoping we get conservative leadership in the House.”
King didn’t identify which candidate he was referring to, but Republicans supported former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is gay, for a House seat in 2014.
Last week, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the NRCC chair, condemned King over his increasingly racist rhetoric and behavior, saying in a tweet that “we must stand up to white supremacy and hate in all forms.”
The eight-term Iowa congressman’s overt embrace of white supremacists in the U.S. and abroad has sparked a backlash among donors and the business community, with companies including Intel and Land ’o Lakes dropping their financial support for his re-election.
In 2015, then-Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) made a similar comment about the NRCC that ended up costing him his bid for re-election the following year. The remark prompted donors and the Congressional Leadership Fund ― a super PAC with ties to GOP leadership ― to sever ties with the New Jersey Republican.
King represents a far more conservative district in a rural portion of Iowa, however. He is still expected to prevail over Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten on Tuesday, according to the most recent polling, despite not running any ads or campaigning until last week.
Earlier Monday, King also made a bigoted joke about Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor by saying he hoped they would “elope to Cuba” so conservatives can take control of the country’s highest court.
The backlash over King’s comments hasn’t hurt his standing among other top Republican officials from Iowa. King appeared at a rally Monday evening with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is similarly at risk of losing re-election.
And he received a vocal endorsement from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio.