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HULL, Iowa -- State Sen. Randy Feenstra said Wednesday he will step down as chairman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee to devote more time to his campaign to unseat Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King in the June 2020 Republican primary.

Feenstra, of Hull, noted the committee has passed "significant pro-growth, pro-taxpayer reforms" under his leadership the last three years. GOP Senate leaders appointed him chair after the party regained the majority in the chairman in 2016. 

From income tax reform to property tax reform, this committee has protected the taxpayer, rewarded work and encouraged investment," Feenstra said in a statement.

In particular, Feenstra cited his role in crafting a major income tax reform bill in 2018, which Republicans hailed as the largest income tax cut in state history.

Though he will no longer lead the committee, Feenstra said he has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver "about my desire to be engaged on tax reform efforts in 2020 and he has assured me I will retain a key policy role as our caucus continues to implement pro-growth tax reforms."

Whitver named Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, as the new chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

As a result of Feenstra stepping down, two other Senate committees also have new chairman. Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, will now chair of the  Veterans Affairs Committee, and Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, will now chair the Commerce Committee.

Feenstra is one of three Republicans who are challenging King, an eight-term incumbent, in the 4th District, which covers 39 counties in northwest and northcentral Iowa. The first to enter the race, Feenstra also has been the fundraising leader, collecting four times as much money as King through March 31.

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Steve King close-up Le Mars Town Hall
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Steve King Le Mars Town Hall
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Steve King Le Mars Town Hall
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Steve King Le Mars Town Hall
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Steve King Le Mars Town Hall

In reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Feenstra reported $260,442 in contributions, compared to $61,666 for King.

Two other GOP challengers, Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor of Sioux City and former Irwin mayor Bret Richards also were on a fundraising par with King. Taylor reported $57,928 in contributions, while Bret Richards had $55,556 in receipts, which included contributions of $17,556 and loans of $48,000.

Feenstra's current four-year term as a state senator runs through 2022, which means he does not have to give up that seat to run for higher office.

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County & Education Reporter

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