Randy Feenstra is a former Iowa state senator who defeated incumbent U.S. Representative Steve King Tuesday night to become the new Republican candidate for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, Business Insider reported.
His campaign website celebrates his “A rating” from the National Rifle Association and his National Right to Life endorsement. It also describes him as a pro-Trump conservative.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Feenstra Is Iowa-Born & Bred
Feenstra was born in 1969 and in Hull, Iowa, according to his biography. Feenstra lived in Northwest Iowa his whole life and started working as a newspaper delivery boy at the age of 9, his campaign website says. He worked at a bakery when he was 14 and also spent time at a family farm.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dordt College and his master’s in public administration in Iowa State University, according to his biography. He became the head of sales for the Foreign Candy Company, a company known for making licorice, bubble gum and other children’s candy. He was an Iowa State Bank insurance manager before becoming an adjunct professor, teaching business classes at Dordt.
He and his wife, Lynette, have two sons and two daughters. Feenstra emphasized his faith through much of his campaign, describing himself as a “true Christian conservative” who was a former deacon that taught Sunday school. He is also a runner as his social media account reflects.
2. As a State Senator, Feenstra Held Conservative Policy Positions
His campaign website mentions several of Feenstra’s policy positions during his time in the state senate, including his support for banning sanctuary cities in Iowa and co-sponsoring a constitutional carry bill to prevent red-flag laws from being established in Iowa.
He has also focused on farmers, including supporting renewable fuel development on farms, eliminating the grain bin tax and supporting new farmers. Feenstra served on the commerce, rules and administration and state government committees and he was also chair of the ways and means committee; he also had experience on the tax expenditure committee, according to his biography.
During a debate he attended through Zoom, Feenstra said he was co-sponsor of a bill to require voter ID and that he believed absentee mail-in ballots were the right way to hold the election during the pandemic, the Carroll Times Herald reported.
3. Feenstra Made Promises to Pass Conservative Legislation
On his website, Feenstra described himself as a “key architect of the largest state income tax cut in state history” and also said he would vote in defense of Trump’s tax cuts. He also described himself as someone who “agrees with President Trump that we must secure our southern border” and would fight “open borders policies that are endangering Iowa communities.”
Feenstra also described himself as a strong supporter of stand-your-ground laws. He said he wants to defund Planned Parenthood, define life at conception and amend the Iowa Constitution to ban abortions. Feenstra has supported many conservative policy positions, including the heartbeat bill. The heartbeat bill banned abortions from being able to take place if a fetal heartbeat is detected, the Associated Press reported.
Feenstra voted for the heartbeat bill passed by Iowa’s Senate, which Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law in May 2018; however, it was declared unconstitutional in 2019, the Carroll Times Herald reported. Although he doesn’t support abortion exceptions for rape, Feenstra did say during a debate that he supported them if the life of the mother was at stake.
4. Feenstra Beat Primary Challenger & Incumbent King
Feenstra received support from Karl Rove and Representatives Tom Tancredo and Steve Stivers, and he received funds from the National Association of Realtors and Defending Main Street super PAC, according to The Hill. He also received endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee and Republican Jewish Coalition. David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, told The Hill, “The negatives have just been increasing and increasing for Steve King, finally resulting in him having zero influence in Congress.”
King gradually lost party support after he told the New York Times that he didn’t understand how the terms “white nationalist,” “white supremacist” and “Western civilization” became offensive. He faced backlash from both Democrats and Republicans. His support of a Toronto mayor with neo-Nazi ties also raised eyebrows; according to the Washington Post, King said that “Western civilization is on the decline” and described the replacement of white Europeans by immigrants.
According to the Hill, Feenstra had outraised King by half a million dollars at $850,000 with $430,000 in the bank compared to King, who raised $300,000 with $26,000 in the bank. A poll showed that Feenstra was within striking distance of King in early May and was leading in Sioux City by eight points.
Business Insider reported the results of the primary race between Feenstra and incumbent King. Feenstra led the field with 45.7% of the vote and 36,706 votes. King received a little more than one-third of the vote, or 35.9%, with 28,831 votes.
5. Feenstra Will Face J. D. Scholten in November
Scholten, a democratic candidate, nearly won a Northern Iowa district in 2018, coming within three percentage points, the Sioux City Journal reported. According to the Journal, Scholten had $715,000 in available cash in April.
Scholten, who pursued professional baseball after college, also began specializing in intellectual property and trial law, according to a biography on his campaign website. Scholten said that during his campaign against King in 2018, he was “the only candidate to host a town hall in all 39 counties in Iowa’s 4th district.”
Scholten’s policy positions include supporting NAFTA, preserving family farms and diversifying the agriculture system, improving infrastructure such as pipes and bringing broadband internet to rural communities, bringing more unions back to Iowa and reforming the tax code, according to his campaign website. He has also said that he wants to raise the minimum wage, reform the Affordable Care Act and leave the decision of abortions up to women and their doctors.