Republican candidates in the Fourth Congressional District primary are asking what, exactly, is Sen. Randy Feenstra’s position on the prospect of debates.
Congressman Steve King has made it clear he will debate, but not until six weeks prior to the primary.
“Why would we have debates in the primary before the filing deadline,” King said. “There may be people who emerge yet, and there may be potential candidates who don’t qualify.”
In addition, King said people don’t typically pay attention until that point anyway.
“Do I want to be involved in debates as long as they want to be involved in them? Now, I’ve got a job to do,” King said. “But I really want to debate.”
KSCJ and KIWA have both canceled their January debates due to King’s self-imposed debate window and Feenstra’s inability to answer whether he’ll debate at all. KDSN canceled their Jan. 19 debate and rescheduled to April 26.
Jeremy Taylor, Steve Reeder and Bret Richards all agreed to the debates. Taylor has been the most vocal critic of Feenstra, who is the last candidate to express his position on debates.
“Multiple news outlets have worked to try to put together a debate, and despite my willingness to join, they all have failed,” Taylor said.
At this point, Taylor said, three of the five candidates are ready to debate. Everyone knows when King is willing to debate. But everyone is waiting for Feenstra to declare when, or if, he’ll be willing to debate.
Taylor said with the “Democrat socialists” flooding the state with town halls and debates, some Republicans have instead chosen to hide from voters.
“Iowa has a long proud history of direct voter participation in the election process, a process I honor,” Taylor said. “I am ready to answer their tough questions, and I call on each candidate in IA-04 to come together, have a constructive debate on the issues and allow those who are seeking to hire us to make an informed decision on who will be represent them.”
Richards has made it clear he would like to debate.
“Voters deserve to know where IA04 candidates stand on the range of issues facing our nation,” Richards said. “I’m looking forward to a series of debates so that voters can see for themselves our differing approaches to leading the country forward.”
When news of the cancellations of debate hit, Richards was quick to suggest moving forward with the majority of the candidates.
“Three out of five candidates (Taylor, Reeder, Richards) ready, willing and available for Jan. 23 debate,” he said. “More than 50 percent. Let’s do this for the voters of IA-04.”
Reeder also requested KIWA move forward with the debate.
“May we proceed with the candidate forum you put together for the three candidates who are interested in the debate,” Reeder asked on Twitter. “We appreciate KIWA initiative to get the IA-04 candidates’ messages out to inform voters.”
Feenstra, on the other hand, has been quiet about his intentions in regard to potential debates. In September, Feenstra’s campaign said Feenstra is “certainly open to the opportunity to highlight his record of conservative results in comparison to the other candidates in the congressional primary.”
In December, when the Sioux City Journal did a story about King’s willingness to debate, Feenstra tweeted out:
“It’ll be strange seeing Congressman King with a seat at an important debate.”
However, Feenstra himself did not reportedly agree to the January debates. He is the only candidate left in the race who has not released his position on debates.
When asked, Feenstra’s campaign told The Iowa Standard that they have told numerous media outlets and local Republican groups that they look forward to the opportunity to debate Congressman King.
“We remain committed to finding opportunities to contrast Randy’s record of conservative results with Congressman King’s failure to deliver conservative results for the Fourth District. Unfortunately, to date, Congressman King has not agreed to any debates,” said Matt Leopold, Feenstra’s campaign manager.