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SIOUX CITY -- One day after state Sen. Randy Feenstra launched his campaign, two other Republicans stepped forward to say they are mulling a primary challenge to Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King.

Rick Sanders of Ames told the Journal Thursday he ideally "plan(s) on running," and will make a final decision within the next few weeks.

Sanders, a member of the Story County Board of Supervisors, said he's meeting with Republican activists and donors, to gauge if he can get substantial support.

"The only way I am not running... is if I don't believe the support will ultimately be there to defeat Steve King and whoever else might be running," he said.

Bret Richards, a retired businessman, told the Des Moines Register he also will mount a challenge to King. 

"Living here my whole life, it's frustrating to see how ineffective he has become," Richards told the Register.  

Richards, 47, is a former mayor of Irwin, a Shelby County town of 341 people on the southern end of the 4th District, which covers 39 counties in western and north central Iowa. The Journal could not immediately reach him for comment Thursday.

An Alabama native, Sanders has been a Story County supervisors since 2010. He said the post has prepared him for a seat in Congress, since representing people well is the key task.

"What the 4th District needs is a good congressman who puts the 4th District first in every decision, every minute of the day...I don't believe we are getting that right now," he said.

Sanders said the key national issue is deciding how best to use technology or a fence to secure the border with Mexico. He said Trump "was elected with a mandate to secure our southern border."

Feenstra, a Hull Republican, touted his conservative record in announcing his candidacy on Wednesday. Feenstra, a third-term senator who serves as an assistant majority leader in the Senate and also chairs the chamber's powerful Ways and Means Committee, said the GOP is in danger of losing Iowa's most Republican congressional district if King is the nominee in 2020. In November, King edged Democrat J.D. Scholten by 3 percent, the closest call in his eight campaigns for re-election.

King's campaign team on Wednesday pointed out he is a reliable conservative and Trump supporter, so there is no need for other Republicans to enter the race.

There was another controversial news cycle for King on Thursday, after a New York Times article delved into his history of controversial statements on race and immigration. King gave an interview, and the Times piece said he questioned why there is controversy rising for use of phrases such as "white supremacist."

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said, according to the Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

In a Thursday release, King replied to the Times story, saying, "Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist."

"America’s values are expressed in our founding documents, they are attainable by everyone and we take pride that people of all races, religions, and creeds from around the globe aspire to achieve them," he added. But King said his conviction "does not make me a white nationalist or a white supremacist."

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County & Education Reporter

Government and education reporter.

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