HULL, Iowa — Randy Feenstra watched last November as fellow Republican Steve King pulled out a narrow 3 percent win in Iowa’s 4th District.
“Wow, we just about lost in the most heavily Republican district in Iowa,” Feenstra, a state senator from Hull, recalled Wednesday in an exclusive interview with the Journal.
Feenstra, who has served in the Senate since 2009, said King’s close call led him to consider a challenge to the nine-term congressional incumbent in the 2020 GOP primary. After getting his family’s blessing over the Thanksgiving holiday, Feenstra said he spent the month of December speaking with a host of Republicans across the 4th District, which covers 39 Northwest and North Central Iowa counties.
Those conversations, Feenstra said, confirmed he would have the electoral and financial support for a successful campaign, which he publicly announced Wednesday.
“This isn’t a whim,” Feenstra told the Journal. “We weren’t going to do this unless there was a true passion for change in the 4th District. From the farming community to business people, people said, ‘It is time. We just need a fresh face.’ ”
In his official campaign announcement, Feenstra did not mention King by name but alluded to the many controversies surrounding the Republican congressman, an outspoken conservative whose staunch views on illegal immigration and support for politicians and parties with white supremacist ties, has drawn widespread criticism.
“Today, Iowa’s 4th District doesn’t have a voice in Washington because our current representative’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table,” Feenstra said. “We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions. We need to start winning for Iowa families.”
King’s campaign responded forcefully to Feenstra’s primary challenge just hours after he announced his campaign.
King’s son, Jeff, who serves as his father’s campaign chairman, said Feenstra told him in late December, ‘I love your dad and I would never run against him.’
“Today, misguided political opportunism, fueled by establishment puppeteers, has revealed that Mr. Feenstra is easily swayed by the lies of the Left,” King said in a statement. “From his statements, it appears that Mr. Feenstra offers Republican voters nothing but warmed over talking points from liberal blogs and failed Democratic candidates.”