SIOUX CITY -- Rep. Steve King, an eight-term Republican congressman who spent the final days of his campaign defending his outspoken remarks about diversity and support for far-right political candidates, has survived in Iowa's 4th District.
King edged Democrat J.D. Scholten by in the sprawling district, the most Republican of the state's four congressional districts. With 36 of the 39 counties reporting, King led 50 percent to 47 percent, according to the Iowa Secretary of State website. Libertarian candidate Charles Aldrich, of Clarion, had nearly 2 percent.
In his victory speech, King said his political opponents launched an onslaught of attacks in an attempt to "Kavanaugh-ize me, like this state has never seen, and like maybe America has never seen."
"[Leftists] were throwing a tantrum with all the money they had," " King told the cheering crowd at the Stoney Creek Inn. "All of the allegations...they got nothing. It's manufactured, distorted....this is a threat to the USA if a Congressional seat can be bought with lies...'cyberbullying.'"
King also took aim at fellow Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio. As chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Stivers, in a tweet, condemned King for "completely inappropriate," actions and remarks, saying "We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms." The NRCC also cut off campaign funds to King.
Stivers "was derogatory...about something that I never said," King told the audience. He "legitimized everything my opponents said about me...still we hung on."
Scholten, a Sioux City native who played college and professional baseball, surprised most everyone with a dogged campaign as he sought an unprecedented upset that would have reverberated nationally.
Scholten, 38, said he "was so damn proud" of his campaign team and for pushing the race to the point King was on the defensive.
"No one gave us a shot when we started," Scholten said.
The Democrat again pointed out his two political heroes, former Northwest Iowa congressman Berkley Bedell and former Sen. Tom Harkin, both lost their first races.
"You haven’t seen the last of J.D. Scholten!” Scholten said in a tweet.
With 36 of the 39 counties reporting, King led 50 percent to 47 percent, according to the Iowa Secretary of State website. Libertarian candidate Charles Aldrich, of Clarion, had nearly 2 percent.
Scholten won his home county of Woodbury by nearly 3,000 votes, 53 percent to 44 percent. It was the first time King had lost the district's most populous county since he first ran for the House in 2002.
King built a successful earth moving company in Kiron, then won a state senate seat in 1996. He said Republican control of all facets of government in 2017-18 have proven beneficial.
In the last 16 years, King rarely faced a serious challenge as he espoused conservative positions on fiscal and social issues. His closest scare came in 2012 when he outdistanced Christie Vilsack, 53 percent to 45 percent.
In the 4th District, 191,540 voters were registered as Republicans as of Nov. 1, compared to 121,079 registered Democrats. Another 174,008 voters list no party, and 2,617 are registered as Libertarians.
King, 69, drew widespread criticism for his endorsement in October of Faith Goldy, a white nationalist candidate for mayor of Toronto. Last week, he again defended his recent overseas trip to meet with members of a right-wing Austrian group with historic ties to the Nazi Party.
King, who argues Judeo-Christian traditions laid the foundation for Western Civilization, pushed back against a chorus of critics who claimed he was racist and anti-Semitic. He also overcame a huge campaign finance disadvantage against Scholten, who raised millions of dollars as a first-time candidate. Scholten aired campaign commercials for weeks, while King also got on the air on Friday, four days before the election.
A first-time candidate and paralegal, Scholten said the three top issues he talks about are the health care, the economy and reducing the role of special interest groups in politics.
Scholten, 38, has taken a methodical approach by working through the 39-county district three times by late October. Scholten asserted voters are increasingly upset with King's frequent travels overseas, support for right-wing politicians from other nations and inappropriate comments.
More than 100 people filed into the King watch party starting around 8 p.m. It was decked out in red in anticipation of Republican red in the polls.
Dick Williams, of Sioux City, said his chief issue is the economy, adding that King's prior running of a construction business gives him a big advantage over Scholten.
King's team banned the Des Moines Register from his watch party, saying the state's largest newspaper and "any other leftist propaganda media outlet" were not welcome. The Journal sent a reporter and photographer to the party.
Scholten's party, at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn, drew more than 125 supporters. Monique Scarlett, of Sioux City, said she hoped to see more Democrats win county government seats, plus she boosted Scholten, who came out to meet people a few minutes later.
"I am holding my breath for J.D. especially...We have to dethrone 'The King,' " Scarlett said early in the evening.
-- Tim Gallagher contributed to this article.
Steve King’s 8 House wins
* 2002: Elected to U.S. House, over Democrat Paul Shomshor, of Council Bluffs, 62 percent to 36 percent.
* 2004: Re-elected, over Joyce Schulte, of Creston, 63-37 percent.
* 2006: Re-elected, over Schulte, 59-36 percent.
* 2008: Re-elected, over Rob Hubler, of Council Bluffs, 60-37 percent.
* 2010: Re-elected, over Matt Campbell, of Manning. 66-32 percent.
* 2012: Re-elected, over Christie Vilsack, of Ames, 53-45 percent.
* 2014: Re-elected, over Jim Mowrer, of Boone, 61.6 -38.3 percent.
* 2016: Re-elected, over Kim Weaver, of Sheldon, 61.2 -38.6 percent.