Republicans lost an incumbent but gained some peace of mind Tuesday night as Iowa Rep. Steve King finally went down to defeat. He lost to state Sen. Randy Feenstra in the 4th District primary and by a wide enough margin to avoid the contest going to a convention.
President Donald Trump carried the rural 4th District, 61 percent to 34 percent, in 2016, yet King only narrowly won reelection two years later, 50 percent to 47 percent over Democrat J.D. Scholten. That demonstrated that King’s presence and problems were major factors in making the seat vulnerable for the GOP. Scholten is running again and is a credible candidate, but he will have a decidedly more difficult race against Feenstra.
That’s why with King’s loss, the rating of the race changes from Tilt Republican to Solid Republican.
The change leaves the House battlefield with 59 competitive races, including 31 currently held by Democrats, 27 currently held by Republicans, and Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash’s open seat in Michigan.
Republicans need a net gain of 17 seats for a majority. With five months to go before Election Day, Democrats are likely to maintain their majority, with the final margin close to the status quo. Specifically, the most likely outcome range is Republicans gaining five seats to the Democrats gaining five seats.
King’s loss is also a win for the GOP baseball team because it likely keeps Scholten off the field for the annual congressional game. Scholten is a former professional pitcher who has been training to get his velocity back up to 87 miles-per-hour.
Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.