It's vexing that Gov. Kim Reynolds clings to Iowa's chief race-baiting nationalist, U.S. Rep. Steve King.
Reynolds probably doesn't need King. He likely damages her brand more than anything else. And yet, she suffers his hate and intellectual dishonesty.
In November, King was named a co-chairman of Reynolds' campaign, a quasi-re-election bid, since Iowa's Republican governor ascended to the post when Terry Branstad joined the Trump administration.
Since coming to office, Reynolds has split the proverbial baby. Even her proposed tax cuts were a compromise plan that, at least next to the Senate version, looks almost reasonable.
One can disagree with Reynolds' policy -- and we often do -- and still accept that she's a deft political operator who wants the best for Iowa.
And then there's King, a man who's entire brand was built by spewing white nationalist hate on national television broadcasts.
King was up to his tired tricks again this past month. This time, he targeted a teenager who survived the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Taking to Twitter, King called her a "communist" merely because the Cuban-American had a Cuban flag on her jacket. A pro-gun meme King posted again fixated on Emma Gonazlez' heritage and the flag on her arm.
It's doubtless that King's response would have been fundamentally different if, say, Gonzalez descended from German immigrants and wore that country's flag on her arm. King ← himself a purveyor of identity politics ← has repeatedly spewed white-power talking points about some mythical oppression of white Americans.
In December, Reynolds' faced pressure to boot King from her campaign after King said cultural diversity was a weakness. The man is a 19th century relic and an embarrassment to Iowa. And, due to his love of the national spotlight, he single-handedly taints Iowa's reputation with troubling regularity.
And that fact alone should be enough for Reynolds to unglue herself from Iowa's chief neo-fascist sympathizer. And yet, following King's December rant, Reynolds punted, saying that she disagrees with a lot of what her supporters say. It was an unacceptable dodge then. It's even more so now. At some point, King's very presence atop its masthead says something about a compromised campaign and its willingness to suffer the ugliest rhetoric possible in the name of party unity. At some point, King's continued role in the campaign stands on its own as a tacit endorsement of his vile hate speech.
Thing is, Reynolds probably doesn't even need King politically. King's 4th Congressional District is a Republican stronghold. It's unclear if Reynolds will have an opponent in June's GOP primary, after Ron Corbett was this past week booted from the ballot. Corbett said Wednesday that he intends to appeal the state's ruling, but, even so, his insurgent campaign is in a death spiral. Meanwhile, Democrats are entering the home stretch of a six-candidate primary cycle that is likely to leave the winner bruised and the party no less divided than it was from the beginning.
King's western Iowa stomping ground would be an easy victory for Reynolds come November. It's the moderate regions of central and eastern Iowa where Reynolds could use additional support.
Steve King's very existence undermines that goal, though. The longer Reynolds' continues to ignore King's racism, the longer she looks morally compromised and politically weak.
Reynolds was instrumental in forcing former Senate leader Bill Dix out of office after his public make-out session with a lobbyist was caught on tape. She recently axed a department head after allegations of rampant sexual harassment.
And yet, she turns a blind eye to a man who's goal in life segregating brown people from "real Americans."