DENISON, Iowa – "They'll get me in trouble," said Eric Skoog, owner of Cronks Cafe, as he put a bowl of oatmeal in the restaurant's back room to his restaurant, a room plastered with calendars, pictures and political memorabilia.
After four decades with presidential candidates and their families stopping at the gas station on Route 30 at his café, Skoog knows a reporter when he sees one. And he knows why reporters are coming to the Iowa deputies more than a year ago, 22 months before the next presidential election these days.
"You want to talk about Steve King," he said.
All in Iowa The fourth congressional district has something to say about King, the man who, despite his long history of racist rhetoric, was elected in November for a ninth term in the US House of Representatives. However, Democratic challenger JD Scholten baffled supporters by ousting him within three points in what many see as signs that King's behavior is increasingly tiring his constituents.
Outside the district of King, indignation is growing. After King had recently wondered aloud in a New York Times article why terms like "white supremacy" are considered insulting, a challenger named Randy Feenstra, a state senator whose district overlaps with King's, quit he would demand King for the Republican nomination in 2020. The presence of a viable Republican alternative seemed to strengthen King's colleagues in Washington. He was removed from his committees, including one for the Agricultural Committee of the House.
But as the national accusations pile up, Iowa's Fourth Ward faces an escalating dilemma: in a district that's 50 percent rural, a seat on the Agriculture Committee means something. In a quarter that is 95 percent white, recent history suggests that his rhetoric does not mean so much.
As the rest of the country blares its disapproval, some in Kings Quarter are wondering if change is finally coming, while others are wondering why so many think change is necessary at all. The Democrats in his district are frustrated by their neighbors holding him in office, and embarrassed by the inaccurate image they believe they paint their district – a picture in which his constituents are considered racist. Some Republicans claim that he is not racist and believes that he speaks for the interests of his constituents.
"I do not know him the way you wrote him there," Skoog said. "I do not know him like that."
"Is that what he says out there meaningful? Yes," Skoog said. "It feeds the Democrats, it does, I know that."
King attended a high school in Denison, a few minutes from Cronks Cafe, and the two met when Skoog, a registered Republican, became more involved in local politics, and when King was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 and Skoog still regularly traveled to Washington, they met in Dublin
Now, in his small office, a space isolated from London's influence of time and the hurling of decades of political waves, Skoog carefully selects his words, a few feet away is the round table on which he is and a group of about thirty local men talk about politics most mornings – the "Roundtable Boys" they call them – some come and go, some agree and some do not 19659014] Einma Every month, Cronk's Cafe hosts a meeting of local Republicans. Once a month there is also a meeting of local Democrats. Skoog is now a member of the board of Crawford County. His dinner has welcomed political figures from all sides, from George McGovern to Mike Huckabee, from Barbara Bush to Michelle Obama. Skoog saw everything, but not with King.
"I'm a bit surprised by [how people talk about King]. I do not hear it that way, "said Skoog. "I do not know how to say it. I can not believe it. But he is not – if I see him, he does not run for office. That's the best way I can say. King suggested that Barack Obama's second name, Hussein, would make him a favorite of al-Qaida, and suggested that immigrants have "calves the size of cantaloupe."
and inquired on national television, "which subgroup of people contributes more to civilization than whites" – all against his harshest denials this month.
Many members of the state's GOP leadership who live in the 4th district did not respond to inquiries about King. Three members of the State Central Committee refused to discuss it and explained their frustration with its description in the mainstream media. One called him "a good man" whose words were "taken out of context".
Another said King was "carried away," but rejected the view that any of Kings' statements meant he had prejudices.
About 90 miles away, in a café in the largest city in King's District – Sioux City, insurance agent Nick Raitt sat at a bar and tried to eat his lunch when he was looking for cameramen place. He came to Pierce Street Coffee Works to eat some soup and a sandwich. He did not want to be in the middle of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's first Iowa tour. He had not expected to be surrounded by Democrats, let alone New York president.
"This is probably the most democratic space you can find here," joked Raitt, a Republican from Sioux City. The six districts of Iowa, which voted most strongly in support of Donald Trump in the 2016 elections, are located near Sioux City in the northwest of the state. Sixty percent of King County voted for Trump, most of the four districts of Iowa.
Raitt said, King " is campaigning for all the harassment he gets."
"But I do When it comes to the racist [expletive]people in this area are fed up with certain groups on the left side constantly spitting out" racism, racism, racism. "" It teases people, " said Raitt. "That should not be the main point of conversation. Is the guy biased? Pretty much, that's hard to dispute, but at the same time, that's not the main issue for the people here."
Playing in King's District Agricultural problems play a big role, and despite the $ 12 billion bailout to offset the cost of its tariffs, China's retaliatory decision to curb the purchase of American soybeans leaves many farmers with a bleak outlook for 2019. There are also concerns about shortages Housing and Production.  "He is now completely ineffective," said Kitty Green, a Sioux City Democrat, referring to the removal of King from committees. "He was fired for practical reasons. Is that important? For some people it is important.
For others in the district, issues of racial discrimination are also important. La Prensa, a local Hispanic newspaper, has described Kings rhetoric as "obviously racist." A few months ago, the newspaper published a letter from Jose Ibarra, an elected councilor from Storm Lake, one of the more diverse communities in the state where the majority of the schools are Hispanic.
Ibarra wrote this letter to King and asked him to visit the church to see how the boundaries between immigrants and non-immigrants "stand out" there. King won the Storm Lake County with a point in 2018; he had won it in 2016 with 16 points.
King's next elections are 20 months away. In the meantime, voters are grappling with the perception of their district – and even more difficult with the perception of their neighbors.
"A candidate is more than the sum of a particular question or statement. [King’s] Followers will talk about things they like about him, but do not mention the racist part of it, "said Greg Guelcher, a 4th District Democrat.
" The problem is that they do not step back and think about it , "What he says conveys a picture of this neighborhood," he added.
"When you press [King] on the most controversial statements he makes, he always says," I did not mean that, you take it out of the Window context, "said Guelcher," I met Steve King, he's not that stupid. "