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Feenstra takes office in January after routing Scholten to succeed King in Iowa's 4th district
State senator wins Iowa 4th District race

Feenstra takes office in January after routing Scholten to succeed King in Iowa's 4th district

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Sen. Randy Feenstra watches election results #1

State Sen. Randy Feenstra, Republican candidate for Congress in Iowa's 4th District, center, checks the election results in his kitchen with his field director Courtney Craig, left, campaign manager Matt Leopold, behind, political director Emily Schwickerath, and his son Taylor Feenstra, right, Tuesday night at his home in Hull, Iowa. Feenstra easily won the election.

SIOUX CITY -- In two months, a new legislative career for Republican Randy Feenstra begins, as he becomes a member of Congress, representing 36 more counties than he now does as a state senator.

Following his dominating win of the Iowa 4th Congressional District seat as Tuesday marked the end of a month of voting, Feenstra will shift the scope of his legislative role from state to federal issues, once he's sworn in Jan. 3.

Feenstra, who had the endorsement of President Donald Trump, took the election win by defeating J.D. Scholten, a Democrat from Sioux City, who was running for the second election cycle in a row. Feenstra won in a rout, getting 62 percent of the vote, and topping the vote of Scholten in 38 of the 39 district counties, with Story County being the outlier.

He received 236,852 votes, while Scholten trailed with 144,344.

By comparison, Scholten lost to U.S. Rep. Steve King by only 3 percent in 2018, when he won six counties, including the five most populous: Woodbury, Cerro Gordo, Story, Webster and Boone. That outcome moved Feenstra in January 2019 to say it was time for a new Republican who could better deliver results for Iowans.

His campaign tagline emphasized the "Feenstra Delivers" point. In an exclusive first interview late Tuesday once the race was put into his corner, Feenstra told the Journal he was enthused to begin the two-year term in January.

"I am really excited that the 4th District people put their trust in me ... I will deliver for them," Feenstra said.

A 12-year state senator, he said he won by connecting with Iowans who have small government views in the district. Feenstra said he plans to work aggressively to improve agricultural opportunities in the district, plus pursue policies to support Main Street businesses and families.

"I think it really comes down to what I did in the Iowa Legislature. I have shown I can deliver and create results," Feenstra said.

Due to spread of the novel coronavirus, both candidates had to alter their campaigning to avoid large gatherings of people.

Scholten had been the fundraising leader during the contest, while Feenstra had led in every poll, whether a public or internal poll.

During this year’s two-year cycle through the reporting period ended Sept. 30, Scholten brought in a combined $2.47 million and outraised Feenstra in each three-month reporting period. Feenstra collected $1.7 million during the same period.

The most recent independent poll released by Monmouth University showed Feenstra leading Scholten, 48 percent to 42 percent, or down from a 20-point lead Monmouth found for Feenstra in August. Scholten’s campaign asserted the gap was closing fast and said the results closely matched his internal polling.

As of Nov. 1, the 4th District had 210,553 registered Republican voters, 130,954 Democrats and 156,686 no party voters.

Buena Vista University Professor Bradley Best said the recipe Scholten needed for a win was to get higher than normal turnout by Democrats and a spike in participation by young, first-time voters, including minority voters. That didn't pan out for him.

Sen. Randy Feenstra watches election results #2

State Sen. Randy Feenstra, candidate for U.S. representative in Iowa's 4th District, left, watches the election results with his campaign manager Matt Leopold at his home in Hull, Iowa, Tuesday.

Feenstra dominated in the traditional rural Republican counties, such as getting 85.1 percent of votes in Sioux County and 82.9 percent in Lyon County. In Scholten's home turf of Woodbury County, Feenstra got more than 24,000 votes, or 54.6 percent.

In the sole county Scholten won, he nabbed 28,066 votes in Story County, for 57.6 percent in that place where Ames, home to Iowa State University, is the largest city.

Scholten pointed with pride to the fact that he’s visited all 374 towns in the district at least once, traveling in his Winnebago which he has nicknamed Sioux City Sue.

"I am kind of just in shock. I felt good going into (Monday) night, knowing we worked our tails off," Scholten said in a late Tuesday interview.

"The turnout by Democrats across the state of Iowa was abysmal ... Counties I did well in last time, we got smoked," Scholten added.

Feenstra has served three, four-year terms in the Iowa Senate. He rose in his caucus to become assistant majority leader and chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy. In that role, he was a key architect of legislation that overhauled the state's individual income tax system and produced the largest tax cut in the state's history, according to GOP backers.

For the first time in 18 years, all of Northwest Iowa and much of North Central Iowa will be represented in the U.S. House by someone other than King, who lives in Kiron.

A few weeks ago, King told the Journal he wouldn't comment on whether he would endorse Feenstra. On Tuesday morning, King tweeted, "I enthusiastically voted for Trump first thing this morning but I couldn’t get my hand to fill in the oval for the Republican nominee for Congress."

In the closing days of the 2018 race, King came under fire nationally for incendiary comments on race and immigration and his support for some far right candidates in Europe. Campaign cash from around the country flowed into Scholten’s coffers, before he lost by 10,430 votes, or 3 percentage points.

King found himself in more hot water soon after starting his ninth term. In a January 2019 New York Times article on immigration, King was quoted as asking, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

The published remarks fueled a national backlash, which resulted in Republican House leaders stripping him of committees, which he has not regained. King has repeatedly insisted the Times reporter misquoted him.

Feenstra outdistanced King by nearly 10 points in a five-candidate field in the June primary. Overwhelming support from Feenstra’s state senate district, which includes Sioux, O'Brien and Cherokee counties, helped fuel his victory.

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PHOTOS: Randy Feenstra celebrates on Election Night

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