Congressional Republican candidates speak on constitutional rights, abortion and COVID-19


Story County Republicans Chairman Brett Barker and John Henry, publicity director of the Republican Party of Story County hosted the 4th District Congressional Primary race to provide voters with an opportunity to hear from the candidates.

Katherine Kealey

Story County Republicans hosted a forum for its 4th District Congressional primary race to provide voters with an opportunity to hear from the candidates.

The forum was streamed over Facebook Live and included incumbent Rep. Steve King, State Sen. Randy Feenstra, former State Rep. Jeremy Taylor and businessmen Brett Richards and Steve Reeder.

Chairman Brett Barker and John Henry, publicity director of the Republican Party of Story County, hosted the event. 

The five candidates were given 15 minutes each to talk about issues such as abortion, campaign endorsements, Second Amendment rights and how the COVID-19 crisis is being handled as well as themselves. 

Feenstra started off the forum. Originally, he started in private sector business while working in the foreign candy company, selling novelty candy to corporations. After this experience, he pivoted to government.

Once he became city administrator in his community, it was there he realized the government needed to change.

Since Feenstra’s involvement in government, he said he delivered one of the largest income tax cuts in Iowa history. Feenstra also said he sponsored a pro-life stance, defining life begins at conception with no exceptions beside the life of the mother.

Feenstra also said he supports Second Amendment rights while opposing all red flag laws.

“These are things that need to get done in Congress, that is why I am running, that is why I am asking people to support myself,” Feenstra said. “Because I have been the effective, proven conservative leader that has got it done.”

Feenstra said he has received 80 percent of his funds to his campaign from Iowa. While contributions range from all over the state and district, Feenstra said he has received contributions just as Sen. Joni Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley have.

Feenstra said although he has received support from many different organizations, that doesn’t mean he stands by everything they stand for and the support doesn’t mean he will be bought out. Feenstra said to look at his record to prove this.

“This is what [support] means,” Feenstra said. “I have been in the Iowa Legislature for 12 years. I am a principled conservative, I will never waiver on my principles, never ever ever. I have never waivered in the Iowa Legislature and I will never waiver in Congress.”

Following Feenstra was Reeder, who said he has worked to serve the people of Iowa and has not aligned himself with the higher establishment.

Reeder said he was born into a Christian family and said the sanctity of life has been extremely important to him his entire life.

“I will defend the unborn all the way through, life begins at conception and I will defend [it],” Reeder said. 

Reeder said there is an emotional component to pregnancy and he wants to makes sure those women are given mental health services. 

“More important, I have one daughter in education and one in mental health and raising [my] daughters, you know there is an emotional component to pregnancy,” Reeder said. “I want to make sure that those women are given counseling and therapy to make sure that they know what an important decision it is.”

Reeder said a lot of times cases of abortions are economic situations, which is why he wants to promote the economic viability of individuals and small businesses.

“Abortion cheapens life and if we do that who knows what we will start doing to our seniors in their later stages of life,” Reeder said. “So we need to protect the sanctity of life the moment of conception all the way to the end and it is in God’s plan, not ours.”

Reeder said he believes in the U.S. Constitution and in the Second Amendment.

“I will stand firm behind the Second Amendment, there is no gray area,” Reeder said. “I am not in favor of any type of gun control. We already have laws on the book, there is already background checks out there so hopefully, someone that is mentally unstable doesn’t get a hold of a gun. I’ll support the laws there, and I don’t want any changes to the Second Amendment. I believe in the right to bear arms and I’ll stand firm on that.”

Reeder said he understands how to connect with Iowans, including Democrats and independents, by being a listener and not a talker. 

Taylor said he has been called to serve as a constitutionalist on Congress and that there is not a more important issue than the right to life. Taylor said he is the only candidate to introduce a 10-part “defend life plan” that begins with a federal heartbeat bill and pushes for personhood.

“There is, in this, double the adoption tax credit, we had adoption in my extended family, and we need to put, as we have done historically, our money where our mouth is as constitutionalists to come alongside men and women who are facing this very very trying time,” Taylor said. “This doubles the adoption tax credit and makes it fully refundable and really champions the cause of life. I don’t want to be called to be somebody in this I want to be called to do something.”

Taylor said he is the constitutionalist that will beat J.D. Scholten and that he is qualified in unique ways from his military background and his past success to win.

“We cannot lose this seat if we are going to take back the U.S. House of Representatives from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and the others because if we do I truly believe our children and our children’s children aren’t going to recognize the country we leave to them,” Taylor said.

Richards also has a military background, right after college he went into the Army and served as a combat engineer officer. There, he said he learned the skills it takes to be a leader. He also has a civil engineering degree, a master’s in leadership and a doctorate in human capital management.

“I do look at problems a little differently than others in the races,” Richards said. “I do look at them logically and try to find the solution that works for Iowans.”

Richards said he is also pro-life and believes life starts at conception and ends at natural death and he said he feels this is something people of faith, like himself, understand. Richards said he thinks he best represents Iowans and it is because of this that he would be the most successful candidate. 

Richards said he has worked hard to get the name recognition other candidates have through grassroot movements.

“What I did is I have been to every county, multiple times, 30 county fairs out of the 39,” Richards said. “I went to every central committee, I had over 250 campaign events along the way and about 73,000 miles on the van now and what that tells you is that I have been out there talking to people. Before the pandemic, I was door knocking and after the pandemic, it has been social media and name recognition through that way and that is a challenge for anyone that is not an incumbent.”

King said name recognition is not as big of a concern for King’s campaign after representing the 4th District since 2013. King said he is a constitutional Christian conservative and that all of his records stand up to that.

“If somebody wants to know what it is like to be elected in the 4th District,” King said, “I am the certified top expert on this because I have won something like 23 or 24 elections in a row. I have never been defeated.”

King said he is happy to face scrutiny and have his record overlooked as long as people go back to the original source of what he actually said and people will be pleased with the job he has been doing.

“I have stepped forward and run to the sound of the guns for the people of Iowa, it is not something where I need to put my finger into the wind and see where the wind is blowing,” King said. “These are my convictions, my convictions match those of the conservatives that are the core of grassroots activists of the Republican Party.”