Veteran to challenge Steve King in 2020 election


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

Bret Richards, a candidate for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, is a primary challenger to Rep. Steve King.

Jake Webster

Bret Richards is seeking the Republican nomination for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in the 2020 election.

Richards said he made the decision to run “right after Christmas” in 2018.

“We started talking with my kids before Christmas and let that soak in — got their feedback first and then decided after Christmas to run,” Richards said.

The incumbent Republican representing Iowa’s 4th in Washington D.C., Steve King, narrowly held onto his seat in 2018. King defeated Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten by less than 3.4 percent in 2018. President Donald Trump carried the district by 27 percent in his 2016 victory.

“I think [Steve King] is vulnerable, I think that it’s questionable whether he could beat J.D. Scholten […] in a very red district that’s not what we want to see as Republicans,” Richards said.

Richards, a veteran, attended the University of Iowa, receiving a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Richards said he has been in business since 1999, when he got out of the Army.

He serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Manning Regional Healthcare Center and said he has served on various other boards.

Richards said he can differentiate himself from King because as a businessperson he focuses on working with people, “listening to customers” and getting things done.

“I am who I am; I think all Iowans recognize that in conversations I speak just like I’m talking to you,” Richards said.

The candidate said he has talked to five or six thousand Iowans, and they prioritize the “rule of law” on immigration, among other issues.

“Iowans actually want legal immigration,” Richards said.

The candidate said he is in favor of a “wall or fence” to secure the border and reform of laws to allow people to immigrate legally.

Richards said health care “always” comes up on the campaign trail when he’s speaking with people. He said people want solutions to make health care more affordable.

“There’s a lot of solutions actually if we could put the partisan bickering aside,” Richards said. “We could talk about prescription benefits managers […] they just become a middle man and it just ends up costing people more for their drugs.”

Richards said intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical companies should be looked at as another way to make health care more affordable.

“It turns out that the intellectual capital that they developed — I believe that they should get a return on their investment, I just don’t think that the United States should pay for the development costs for the entire world,” Richards said. “My dad, he has to get a blood pressure medicine and he can get it cheaper from Canada — same exact thing.”

The regent universities in Iowa used to get a majority of their funding from the state. Today, the majority of Iowa State’s budget comes from tuition from students.

On what he could do at the federal level to alleviate the burden on students, Richards said there are a lot of things that happened to get to this point.

“I teach at Creighton University, I have a Ph.D. in human capital management, and so I’m familiar with the struggles students have,” Richards said. “I had a lot of student bills when I was getting my degrees also. There are things that have changed that caused tuition bills to go up so fast, but it’s not an easy answer.”

Richards said how federal student loans are guaranteed to contribute to rising tuition costs.

“Schools should actually be accountable for their graduation and placement rates through the free market place,” Richards said.

Richards is one of three Republicans challenging King, and the primary to determine the party’s nominee is scheduled for June 2.