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Feenstra Defeats King In Iowa's 4th District; Axne-Young Rematch In 3rd

Randy Feenstra Facebook page
Randy Feenstra addresses supporters via Facebook Live Tuesday evening.

Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra won the Republican nomination for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District on Tuesday, beating nine-term incumbent Congressman Steve King in a five-way primary. He’ll face Democrat J.D. Scholten in November. Scholten ran a close race against King in 2018.

Feenstra took about 46 percent of the primary vote to King’s 36. Jeremy Taylor, Bret Richards and Steve Reeder, the other three GOP challengers, split about 18 percent.

“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support over the past 17 months that made tonight possible and I thank Congressman King for his decades of public service,” Feenstra said in a statement. “As we turn to the General Election, I will remain focused on my plans to deliver results for the families, farmers and communities of Iowa. But first, we must make sure this seat doesn’t land in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies in Congress. Tomorrow, we get back to work.”

The state senator from Hull also addressed supporters in a Facebook Live video, shortly before the Associated Press called the race.

“I said from day one that Iowans deserve a proven effective conservative leader that will deliver results and I have done that in the Iowa Senate, being in the Iowa Legislature for the last 12 years,” Feenstra said. “And I promise you, I will deliver results in Congress.”

U.S. Rep. Steve King from Kiron was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002. He thanked his supporters in a video on Facebook after conceding the race to Feenstra. He also said none of his four GOP opponents have ever opposed his record.

“And that’s pretty interesting when you think of nearly 18 years in the U.S. Congress, and no one’s disagreed with the positions that I’ve taken,” King said. “Neither do I have any accusers. This comes from an effort to push out the strongest voice for full spectrum constitutional christian conservatism that existed in the United States Congress.”

King said Feenstra will have a hard time pushing back against “some powerful elements in the swamp.”

King was stripped of his committee assignments last year for a comment he made to The New York Times.

Miller-Meeks Wins GOP Race in SE Iowa

In Iowa’s 2nd District, State Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks won the Republican nomination, beating out her main rival in the race, former Illinois Congressman Bobby Schilling, and three other contenders. Miller-Meeks took 47 percent of the vote, to Schilling's percent.

mariannette miller-meeks
Credit John Pemble/IPR
State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will face Democrat Rita Hart this fall in the 2nd Congressional District.

Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist, veteran and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, has run in the district three times before, facing off against longtime Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack.

“We’re excited to move forward on the issues that we started this campaign with, be it healthcare that’s accessible and affordable, that gives you choices. Be it fair and free trade. Be it a government that’s accountable,” Miller-Meeks said. “Add to that the economic losses that we’ve suffered through the pandemic. We’re excited to be able to work to help to regrow our economy and reopen Iowa and the United States.”

Schilling, a businessman who owns a string of pizzerias, represented a neighboring district in Illinois for one term, before moving across the river to LeClaire in 2017.

The announcement that seven-term Rep. Loebsack would be retiring opened up the seat in southeast Iowa, paving the way for what became the largest Republican primary the district has seen in years. Tim Borchardt of Iowa City, Steven Everly of Knoxville, and Rick Phillips of Pella also ran.

Miller-Meeks and Schilling largely sparred over conservative credentials and who would make a better ally for President Donald Trump, with both candidates advocating for limiting immigration, blocking restrictions on gun access, and cutting government spending. Though in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, both acknowledged a need for more economic support for Iowa businesses and families, with Miller-Meeks advocating for a temporary expansion in unemployment and SNAP benefits.

Miller-Meeks’ campaign labeled Schilling as a carpetbagger who would “move wherever, do whatever and whatever to get elected”. The Quad-City Times reported in 2012 that during his time in Congress, Schilling ruffled some feathers for working across the aisle with Loebsack.

Meanwhile Schilling’s campaign drew attention to a tweet Miller-Meeks has sent in October 2016, criticizing then-candidate Trump, and a video from a campaign event in May 2018 where Miller-Meeks described herself as “pro-choice” and said “I don’t want the government in my healthcare decisions”. She has since said she misspoke.

Still, Miller-Meeks has aligned herself with Trump, at a time when he continues to enflame tensions in a country that has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus, a pandemic-induced economic crisis, and days of sustained civil unrest brought on by generations of systemic racism and the killing of George Floyd.

Still, Miller-Meeks said she’s ready to lead in a time of historic national strife, and that now is the time for “healing.”

“We also want to see healing in our country. It’s a very difficult time for our state and our nation. And we want to make sure people know that racism cannot be tolerated and that we want to be part of the solution to those problems in achieving racial equality,” she said.

Miller-Meeks consistently led in fundraising and endorsements from Iowa elected officials, including Gov. Kim Reynolds and Sen. Joni Ernst.

She will go on to face farmer, teacher and former State Sen. Rita Hart, who cleared the field early on in the Democratic primary and ran unopposed on the ballot.

Hart, for her part, has said that she is the leader who can bring Iowans together during this time.

“I am heartbroken the way hatred, racism, and violence are tearing our country apart. As a lifelong Iowan, farmer and teacher, I have seen the challenges that our communities are facing. Now more than ever, we need leadership that brings people together,” Hart said in a written statement. “Whether it is health care, economic development, justice, public safety, or education, I will always work to put Iowans ahead of politics and provide real solutions to our toughest problems.”

Hart saw a sizeable turnout, winning some 66-thousand votes, with a decisive margin over Miller-Meeks' some 22-thousand votes. Republican voters cast a total of some 47-thousand voters in the 2nd District primary.

The 2nd District has long been considered Iowa’s most reliably Democratic, buoyed up by party activists in the major population centers of Davenport and Iowa City. Still, Republicans are hoping to flip the seat and make in-roads in the U.S. House.

As of June 1, Democrats have a nearly 30,000 person lead over Republicans in total voter registrations in the district; there are 178,367 active Democrats, 162,572 active No Party Voters, and 148,564 active Republican voters.

Anxe-Young Rematch Set For November In The 3rd District

Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District will see a rematch in November between David Young and Cindy Axne. But this time it’s Young who is the challenger. The two-term former congressman, who lost to Axne in 2018, handily defeated his one challenger in the Republican primary.

Voters in Des Moines, Council Bluffs and counties throughout southwest Iowa gave Young about 70 percent of the tally against Army veteran Bill Schafer.

Young says in this year’s general election will be a different competition than two years ago because Axne

Credit John Pemble/IPR File
David Young will try to retake the seat he lost to Rep. Cindy Axne in 2018.

now has a voting record to account for.

“She’s not a blank slate,” he said in an interview after his race was called. “We’ll be able to show some direct differences and contrasts on the issues from healthcare to immigration to the economy. And over time we will create that narrative and we will win in November. I’m very confident of that.”

Young says the spring campaign didn’t unfold as anyone expected with the pandemic, the slumping economy and the current demonstrations.

“Who thought we would be at this point, and who knows what could happen later this year. So you always have to be prepared to lead on whatever issues come your way,” he said.

He emphasized that most of the people gathering to express outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, other acts of police brutality and the systemic and societal racism that led to them are exercising their right to assemble.

“Our TVs are filled with great people, good Americans, peacefully protesting for hope and a better life,” he said. “And we see these images on TV only to be disrupted by rioters, who only seek to destroy the lives and property of others.”

But Young says Iowans have always been able to see the good in each other and he’s eager to return to Washington to represent the district.

Hinson Easily Wins In 1st

Credit Hinson campaign
Republican State Rep. Ashley Hinson faces incumbent Democrat Abby Finkenauer in November.

In northeast Iowa’s 1st District, State Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion beat her GOP opponent with nearly 80 percent of the vote Tuesday night. Hinson, who received the endorsement of President Donald Trump, faced Decorah small businessman Thomas Hansen.  Hinson said she’s ready to challenge incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer.

“We’re focused on wining in November and so I can get to work on the issues that really matter to Iowans which are of course, getting the economy back up and running,” said Hinson.  “That’s what I’m going to start working on tomorrow, day one, making sure Iowa can recover and we can get people back to work in a safe and sound manner.”

Analysts have said the Finkenauer-Hinson race is likely to be expensive. A news release minutes after the results were announced said Hinson has $ 1.1 million on hand for the fall campaign.  Iowa’s 1st District spans 20 counties in northeast Iowa and includes the cities of Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.
Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter
Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames
Pat Blank is the host of All Things Considered