Stefanik: Iowa Rep. King should resign

North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has publicly called for the resignation of fellow Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, due to his comments that were widely seen as racist.

The statement came the same week Stefanik, who represents New York’s 21st Congressional District, called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign after a photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced of a person wearing blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Calling on the Democratic governor to quit drew blowback from people who pointed out that Stefanik had not yet called for King to do so.

“Could you be any more transparent with your partisan double standard?,” tweeted Patrick Nelson of Stillwater, a Democrat who had run for her seat last year. “Maybe they should both go, but there is no world where @RalphNortham should step down while Steve King stays in power. You can’t defend that.”

Stefanik quickly made it clear that she thinks King should leave office, too.

“Racism is unacceptable in any form,” Stefanik spokeswoman Madison Anderson wrote to the Watertown Daily Times. “The revelations this weekend about Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam are disturbing and abhorrent. Congresswoman Stefanik strongly believes both Ralph Northam and Steve King should resign. She believes Iowans in the 4th district deserve new leadership which is why she joined the vast majority of her colleagues in Congress by voting to condemn Steve King.”

King became a national topic of controversy on Jan. 10 when The New York Times published an article on him in which he told a reporter, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

King later said he was only referring to “Western civilization” when he asked, “how did that language become offensive?” He says he is nationalist but not racist. Nevertheless, many doubted this defense, considering that King has made offensive statements in the past, has associated with white nationalists in the U.S. and Europe, and took hard-line stances against immigration years before President Donald Trump and other Republicans adopted them.

At the time, Stefanik condemned King’s comments in a strongly worded tweet: “We must unequivocally condemn the ideology of white supremacy and white nationalism. It is abhorrent and heinous and has no place in our discourse.”

She also joined a 424-1 House vote “rejecting white nationalism and white supremacy” specifically in light of King’s comments. Rep. Bobby Rush, a black Democrat from Illinois, cast the lone “nay” vote, saying the House should take the stronger step of censuring King. Stefanik co-sponsored a separate resolution to censure King, as reported in the Washington Post Jan. 16.

Stefanik also told a New York Times reporter back on Jan. 15 that she thought King should resign, although the quote was not published. Anderson shared email correspondence between Stefanik and the Times’ Jonathan Martin in which he asked her about King and “would you like to see him resign altogether?” She replied, “Yes, he should resign. I will be supporting his primary opponent.” Martin verified that the shared emails were accurate.