Randy Feenstra wins fourth district congressional race

Republican Randy Feenstra won Iowa’s 4th Congressional District congressional race and said he is excited the people of the 4th District put their trust in him.

Michael Craighton

The Associated Press (AP) has declared Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, Iowa, the winner in the race to represent Iowa’s fourth congressional district. This includes much of the northwestern quarter of the state, including Ames.

AP called the race in favor of Feenstra over J.D. Scholten, a Democrat from Sioux City, 64 percent to 33 percent, with 71 percent of precincts reporting results. Story County hadn’t reported results when the race was called.

“I’m really excited that the people of the fourth district put their trust in me and voted for me, and now it’s time to get to work,” Feenstra said. “We have to get our fiscal house in order, and we have to protect life.”

Feenstra and Scholten spoke briefly by phone after AP called the race.

“I’m pretty shocked, to be honest,” Scholten said. “We out-worked, out-raised, out-organized our opponent, but at the end of the day … the needle shifted to the right.”

Scholten said he does take some pride in helping change the dynamic of the district by contributing to the ouster of Republican Rep. Steve King.

Before the Iowa caucuses, the fourth district’s race was one of the most anticipated in the country. Democrats saw King as vulnerable following years of inflammatory remarks, largely regarding race and immigration, and an unexpectedly close margin with Scholten in 2018.

Feenstra emerged victorious in the 2020 primary elections, executing a rare successful challenge of an incumbent member of his own party to become the Republican candidate for the U.S. House.

Feenstra’s victory represents a continuation of the district being a safe House seat for Republicans, said Karen Kedrowski, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State.

“The fact that Steve King was able to be reelected for as many years as he was when he was as controversial as he was says that there’s some truth to that,” Kedrowski said. “I think that Feenstra will be a very loyal member of the Republican Party and will vote consistently with the Republican caucus.”

The national Democratic Party pulled their support for Scholten after Feenstra won the primary, indicating that they also expected the seat to remain in Republican hands, Kedrowski said.

“The district will stay largely rural and largely Republican, and Feenstra will stay in the seat as long as he wants to have it,” Kedrowski said.

Ryan Hurley, a sophomore in pre-business and president of Iowa State College Republicans, also said the results were what the organization expected to see.

“I’m very excited, I’m very happy that we won this seat,” Hurley said. “It’s very important; it’s good we’ll be represented, and it’s good we’ll be on the agriculture committee again.”

Abigail Meehan, junior in political science and communications director of Iowa State College Democrats, said it was difficult going through a second electoral loss with Scholten.

“A lot of people, even if they weren’t aligned with J.D., really disliked King enough to vote against him,” Meehan said. “I think a lot of the momentum in Feenstra beating King came from the Scholten campaign, so that is something to be proud of.”

While the outcome of the presidential race still hangs in the balance, largely due to uncounted mail-in ballots, Kedrowski said while absentee voting may have made this race closer, it did not affect the final outcome.

While AP and other media organizations have called the race in favor of Feenstra and the candidates have conceded, the final vote tallies are not yet official or certified. While the outcome of the race is unlikely to change, state election officials frequently do not certify final official results for several days after the election.