HULL, Iowa -- A center-right political action agency is committing over $100,000 to back Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra in his bid to oust Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King.
Defending Main Street's six-figure strategy include direct mail pieces, district-wide phone calls, and micro-targeted social media advertising in support of Feenstra ahead of the GOP primary on June 2.
Founded by the late Steve LaTourette, an Republican congressman from Ohio, Defending Main Street is the first national independent-expenditure group to support one of King's four primary challengers. It's also the first time Defending Main Street has endorsed a GOP incumbent's challenger.
In January, the group’s sister organization -- Republican Main Street Partnership PAC -- became the first GOP organization to support one of King’s challengers. The move came in the wake of King losing all of his House committee assignments in response to controversial comments he made about white supremacy.
“Now more than ever, the people of Iowa’s 4th District need a voice in Washington, D.C.,” Defending Main Street treasurer Sarah Chamberlain said in a statement. “The small businesses, farmers, and families of this district are being excluded from eminently crucial decision-making amid the pandemic. It is time to restore the level of comprehensive representation these Iowans deserve.”
Defending Main Street, a 527 independent-expenditure Super PAC, notes it has a successful track record of backing GOP campaigns. In 2016, the organization's candidates won 11 of 12 general election contests, and in 2018, a cycle in which Democrats took control of the House, the group won 5 out of 7 general election races.
The organization's support adds to Feenstra's financial advantage in the GOP primary. In the first quarter of this year, Feenstra raised $122,871, dwarfing the $42,917 that King brought in during the January to March period.
Feenstra ended the quarter with $415,651 available to spend on campaign activities, while King had just $26,773 in cash. Since mid-March, Feenstra has been the sole candidate running television ads in the Sioux City market, the largest of the 39 counties of the 4th District. His team said those media buys will continue up to the June 2 primary.
King's other Republican challengers include Jeremy Taylor, a former Woodbury County supervisor from Sioux City; health care official Bret Richards, of Irwin; and businessman Steve Reeder, of Arnolds Park.
Taylor, who raised $16,050 for the quarter, and ended March with $21,737 in cash on hand, dismissed Feenstra's support from Defending Main Street.
"The majority of my financial support comes from former supporters of congressman King," Taylor said in a statement.
Richards, a former mayor of Irwin, took in $5,152 in contributions during the most recent reporting period. But he has given his campaign a substantial number of loans, and ended March with a cash on hand amount of $82,809.
Reeder reported raising $20,500 for the first three months of 2020, and ended the quarter with a negative cash on hand of $18,024, according to the FEC summary.
J.D. Scholten, the sole Democrat in the field, continues to outraise all the Republicans. Scholten brought in $338,579 over the quarter, which was more than all of the Republicans taken together, as those five raised just under $185,000 combined.
Scholten, of Sioux City, lost by 3 percentage points to King in 2018.
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