DES MOINES – Rep. Steve King, the polarizing Republican from rural Iowa, who was considered brutal race referrals, expected an easy victory next week, like all of his previous eight races.
With no radio or television advertising and no debates, his biggest campaign presence was a Facebook page that specializes in trolling liberals with mocking memes.
But suddenly, the overlap of the Pittsburgh Synagogue, shot down by a virulent anti-Semite, and Mr. King's recent racist-inflammatory remarks have gathered in a neo-Nazi-related publication to add some drama to a renewed re-election offer.
The Republican House Republican Republican House Representative, Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, blamed Mr. King this week for blasting. Mr Stivers said recent tweets and remarks by Mr King, including an endorsement by a mayoral candidate from Toronto, who had previously recited the 14-word manifesto used by neo-Nazis, are synonymous with hate speech.
"We have to face white supremacy and hatred in all its forms, and I strongly condemn that behavior," Stivers wrote.
In Des Moines, Mr. King reacted furiously on Thursday when he was accused of sharing the same ideology as the Pittsburgh shooter, and demanded that the man who made the proposal be expelled from a candidate forum.
In a recognition of the heat that Mr. King feels, his first TV ad was released on Friday. (It was an expression of heartfelt pride and optimism that was regained from his 2014 campaign.)
A public poll on Monday showed Mr. King was leading his opponent, J. D. Scholten, at a single point. After news of the survey surfaced in the social media, Mr. Scholten poured money from across the country: $ 641,000 in 48 hours, said his campaign, enough to run its own 90-second TV commercial, the Farmers , Mothers and others who say, according to the campaign, are former supporters of the king.
Three large farms – Land O'Lakes, Purina and Smithfield – announced that they would no longer support Mr. King because his behavior does not represent their values. AT & T announced on Friday that the employees who manage the disbursements of its Political Affairs Committee have decided that they will not make any future contributions to it.
Douglas Burns, an owner of the Carroll Daily Times Herald and other newspapers in Mr. King's deeply conservative district, won 27 points by President Trump, said the republican base was still with Mr. King, the favorite who could still win , But Mr. Scholten was his first Democratic challenger who did not easily caricature himself as a carpet-dredger or a liberal. Mr. Scholten, 38, is a fifth-generation Iowan and a former baseball professional who deals primarily with his biography, not ideology.
"I think Scholten is the strong point that he is an acceptable place for possibly many Republican or Republican independent independents to make a dissatisfied vote," Burns said.
He added that Mr. King carried out "the laziest campaign" he has seen. "King is a natural political animal. In a debate he scolded Scholten, but he just ignores him. I do not understand why. "
In contrast to the often elusive Mr. King, Mr. Scholten has crossed the 39-district in a motorhome called Sioux City Sue for the Gene Autry song, which stays overnight in Walmart parking lots, and accused those responsible of ignoring voters Select bouts for white nationalists.
"People have been frustrated with King for years, but they had no one to trust," said Mr. Scholten, who called from his RV on Friday. "That's why we tried so hard to reach the people." He stops in the city center to meet with the voters of both parties instead of just hosting city halls that attract fans.
The issues he talks about are, above all, the high costs of health care and the management of an agricultural economy for young people who are moving further and further away.
"Every time I fill this camper with gasoline, there is usually a donation box for someone who just got sick or had an accident," he said. "We live in the richest country in the world and people have to pay for their medical expenses."
In the past, the Iowans in the Fourth Ward rolled their eyes or simply ignored Mr. King's controversial statements about undocumented immigrants or Muslims causing national indignation. He was a Republican whose views on abortion, taxes and gun rights were represented in northwest Iowa, the state's most conservative region. Two years ago, he was re-elected with 22 percentage points to the eighth term.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Iowa's senior Republican, declined to discuss Mr. King on Friday at a campaign stop for another representative of the House of Representatives, David Young. "I do not want to say any words that would affect the importance of reelecting Young," he said.
Nancy Trapolino, a 34-year-old mother of two children from Arcadia, Iowa, who works in a family-owned agricultural machinery business, said she would probably vote for Mr. King to keep the house in Republican hands. It endorses last year's tax cuts and other Republican priorities.
"I did not find anyone running against Steve King who gave me much hope," she said. "I think a Republican Congress will be important in achieving some of the goals it is pursuing."
Asked for his comments, which supported white nationalists, she said, "I really have no comments."
Mr. King's most passionate followers have in the past accepted his refusal to be a racist, accepted and agreed with him that the news media distorted his remarks.
But his recent comments and actions come at a time when the country's nerves are curious for hate-filled speech after the Pittsburgh massacre and Mr. Trump's escalation of heated rhetoric about the caravan of Central American Americans towards the US and its misleading online advertising undocumented immigrant bragging about having killed police officers.
Recently, Mr. King supported a white nationalist who ran for the mayor of Toronto. In an interview he gave to right-wing extremist publications in Austria, he accused the wealthy Democratic Party donor, George Soros, of wanting to replace white Europeans with immigrants. The remarks came after a five-day visit to the Holocaust sites, funded by a nonprofit group that educates legislators on the Nazi genocide.
In his Des Moines appearance on Thursday, Mr. King vehemently rejected a connection between his words and deeds and the anti-Semitic ideology of the Pittsburgh shooter.
He said he had "been with Israel all the time," he asked the organizers to remove the man who had suggested a connection with the shooter, adding, "I can not hear another word from you."
"They're done, we're not playing these games here in Iowa," he said.
On Friday, Mr. Scholten said his internal surveys continued to show him behind Mr. King as the survey showed a one-point race, but he is glad that the attention will increase his profile, which was a challenge of his campaign ,
"We only say that there is a need for a new moral leadership in the fourth district, one that rejects white supremacy and racism," he said.