I have sat on this article for one month. I was not going to publish it, but then I saw Tuesday’s Fourth Congressional District Republican debate and now have no choice.
This is not an easy article to write. Randy Feenstra has been my state senator for the last 12 years. He has an outstanding voting record and is a reliable Republican vote.
But he is not a conservative champion.
Is he a nice guy? Yeah. Would it be cool to have someone from our county in Congress? Yeah.
Do either of those two things have anything to do with electability? Nope.
For those who haven’t followed me for long, I want you to know I will never care about personalities more than I care about policy positions. I will never put my core, conservative principles in the backseat for something cool or convenient.
And I will always make the best decision I can based on the evidence I have before me.
So, here it goes…
At Tuesday’s debate, Feenstra refused to answer Congressman Steve King’s question about National Right to Life and the Heartbeat bill. National Right to Life opposed the federal Heartbeat bill. King took them to task for it.
So, National Right to Life has endorsed Feenstra this cycle. Please, take the time to listen to Rebecca Kiessling discuss National Right to Life during our podcast. Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, lawyer and was conceived in rape. It’s personal for her.
Anyway, watch the exchange from yesterday’s debate:
I have firsthand knowledge that King worked his tail off to see the Heartbeat bill advance through the Iowa House. A sitting U.S. Congressman took his time to make calls and whip votes for a bill in the state legislature. That’s like Patrick Mahomes calling up the XFL quarterback to see if he could offer assistance.
It doesn’t happen.
For Feenstra to ignore what King did behind the scenes is incredibly irritating. Then, to ignore the question, it is offensive to Fourth District voters. To smile and to laugh, Feenstra came across incredibly smug.
Now, let’s stay on Tuesday’s debate. Here is Feenstra answering a question from Bret Richards about term limits:
Feenstra says he is a term limits person and eventually says he’ll serve 12 years and come back home. But, when Feenstra was first elected to the Iowa Senate, he told the Sioux County Index Reporter:
“I’m in this as a career. I want to make a difference in politics. This is not my last stop. I want to work my way into leadership.”
Career? As in, career politician?
Here, Jeremy Taylor criticizes Feenstra for his “effort” on getting cosponsors for his life at conception bill. Feenstra collected zero cosponsors, two years after Sen. Jake Chapman racked up 20.
If that were a priority, if life at conception were truly the priority, there would have been plenty of cosponsors — but to my knowledge, nobody was even asked.
I’ve heard Randy talk about the difference between committee bills and bills that are individually sponsored by legislators on a solo basis and how those don’t carry much weight. This was expressed at a legislative forum in Rock Valley in 2019 in the basement of Cedar Rock Grill.
Fast forward to today and Randy has included that 2019 life at conception bill in his campaign commercials, saying he delivers for the unborn.
But he failed to deliver one single cosponsor.
Here is another element of Tuesday’s debate that raised my eyebrows. The candidates were asked about exceptions for abortion. Feenstra said he did not favor exceptions for rape and incest.
But, last August, Feenstra’s campaign sent out three fundraising emails within seven hours of each other criticizing King because he made comments against exceptions for rape and incest!
It was Aug. 14. I know the date because Feenstra’s campaign team tweeted out it was their best single-day fundraising effort of the campaign. The next day his team sent out a fundraising email from Bob Vander Plaats criticizing King for those same comments.
Now, also at Tuesday’s debate, Taylor brought up Feenstra’s flip on sports betting and fantasy sports. In 2017, Feenstra said he would not allow a bill to legalize fantasy sports in committee because it was a major expansion of gambling.
But in 2019, he allowed a bill that legalized both fantasy sports AND sports betting in his committee. And he not only allowed it in committee, he voted for it in committee. Later, however, he turned around and voted no on the floor.
What changed from 2017-2019? Two things.
One, Randy decided to run for Congress. Two, Christopher Rants established the Iowa Four PAC.
Oh, by the way, Rants is the head lobbyist on behalf of fantasy sports companies in Des Moines.
In an infamous interview with Simon Conway, Randy refused to answer Conway’s direct question about whether he would publicly request Main Street PAC not to spend $100,000 on his behalf since they push for red flag gun laws. It turned into a 10-minute conversation in which Randy never answered (which is an answer in and of itself).
However, he did point out something that I hope everyone knows.
Randy said Main Street is about fiscal conservatism and “that’s where I’m all about.”
I do not doubt it for a second. Randy is all about fiscal conservatism. He knows enough to vote right on the social issues, but the Fourth Congressional District needs to send someone willing to lead on the controversial issues.
We are one of the most conservative districts in the country. If we don’t send a champion and a fighter, who will?
Now, I said I was going to put it all out there. So here are some minor things that are kind of like those corner pieces to a puzzle. They’re really easy to find and figure out, but aren’t overly crucial to the big picture.
Feenstra has routinely criticized King for losing his committee assignments and keeping the Fourth District from not having a voice or a seat at the table. But, did you know, that there was one state legislator missing from the April 9 Legislative Council meeting held to discuss extending the pause in session due to COVID-19?
Arguably the most important Legislative Council meeting in Iowa history, and one legislator was a no-call/no-show. It was Feenstra.
The only thing Randy delivered that day was confusion to the role call lady.
Now, we will look at some floor debate from 2019. In this clip, Feenstra argues against tax credits.
“I look at this and say it becomes a little disingenuous of saying, ‘alright, we’re going to give you something here, but we’re going to take it from you over there,'” Randy said.
The very next day, however, he was floor managing a bill for a beginning farmers’ tax credit.
If tax credits truly are bad because it is the government giving something here only to take something from over there, then they’re always bad. Period.
Prior to announcing his congressional run, Randy did something that should cause suspicion. He deleted every tweet he had ever sent.
Go ahead and check. Randy’s Twitter profile says he has been a member since March of 2009.
Voters in the Fourth District would be well served by Randy delivering those deleted tweets so they can better know the candidate.
Feenstra touts his vote for a bill to ban sanctuary counties and cities. But never once did he issue any public statement about Sioux County — his home county, our home county — being a sanctuary county.
And it was. Sioux County refused to honor ICE detainer requests. It was not a secret, either. But Randy never made an issue out of it. Never spoke out about it.
He has also received money from folks who are big ag, pro-amnesty type people.
Finally, I truly believe the old adage that you are who you roll with. Feenstra is the establishment’s pick. Karl Rove, Terry Branstad, Bruce Rastetter, Nick Ryan, David Kochel, Doug Gross.
Gross has problems with the amount of influence Christian conservatives have in Iowa. Kochel has long been a proponent of homosexual marriage — way before Joe Biden and Barack Obama were.
Feenstra is the candidate being supported by the NeverTrump branch of the Republican Party.
Not to mention a donation he received from Kinzinger for Congress. Adam Kinzinger is a member of Congress who has supported amnesty.
If Randy is truly going to be a champion for the rule of law, why did he get that check?
Randy is also supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (who supports amnesty and a federal gas tax increase of 25 cents a gallon), Main Street PAC (who supports Red Flag gun laws) and National Right to Life (who opposes the federal Heartbeat bill).
The Fourth District should be sending someone to Washington D.C. who will not only champion controversial conservative causes but also stand up to party leadership.
All things considered, I just do not believe Feenstra can deliver that. It’s something he has failed to deliver in Des Moines, and I have little reason to believe he will start when he gets to D.C.