Because we believe it's time for a change in the U.S. House seat from Iowa's 4th District and because we believe he represents a strong alternative choice to incumbent Steve King for Republicans, The Journal editorial board today endorses the candidacy of Randy Feenstra in the June 2 primary election.
In our view, Feenstra - a three-term state senator from Hull in conservative stronghold Sioux County who possesses additional experience in public service at local and county levels of government, as well as in business - checks all the right boxes in terms of stands on issues, including domestic economic and social issues, important to majority Republicans in the 4th District. (He earned the personal endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive officer of The Family Leader, endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and an "A" rating by the NRA).
Any effort to argue Feenstra isn't a conservative Republican is, well, laughable. Party members should feel more than comfortable having him carry their banner and take their message into the fall general election campaign against Democrat J.D. Scholten.
In opting to endorse a King challenger this year, we break no news.
In January 2019, we urged King to resign his seat in the wake of controversy produced by a King white supremacy comment during an interview with The New York Times. Just three months before, in October 2018, we endorsed Scholten over King in the 4th District U.S. House race.
On multiple occasions, we have used this space to criticize King for what we view as inflammatory or questionable comments and expressed concern about the impact of those comments on our district. Each time King immerses himself in controversy in this fashion, he holds up our congressional district to ridicule and marginalizes himself within the legislative body he serves, we have written before.
In fact, fallout from the January 2019 NYT King story resulted in a vote by House Republicans to strip him of all committee assignments.
At a May 12 public candidate forum, King said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California will advocate for him to get those committee assignments back, according to a Journal story.
Not so fast, though. In published reports, McCarthy said he didn't tell King he would advocate for him.
“I never said that. Committee assignments are decided by the Steering Committee, he'll have the opportunity to make his case. I think members on the Steering Committee, I think he'd get the same answer that he got before,” McCarthy said during a May 15 news conference.
Representative Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, was even stronger in his response.
"I am a member of the Republican Steering Committee and former NRCC chairman, and as long as I am a member of the Steering Committee, I will not allow that type of person or that type of ideology to influence the legislation passed by Congress. He will not be serving on any committee. Steve King does more to hurt Republican and conservative causes than help,” Stivers wrote in an Instagram post, The Hill reported on May 13.
In other words, a cloud remains over King's seat on committees.
To the detriment of Iowans who live and work in this district, whatever measure of influence or effectiveness King may have once possessed in the House is, in our view, largely gone.
It required no insignificant amount of courage for Feenstra to mount a primary challenge to nine-term incumbent King, but he properly recognizes residents of this congressional district "deserve better." In Feenstra, Republicans of the 4th have a candidate who not only represents needed change, but a candidate who shares their values, principles and positions and who may, in fact, strengthen their hand in the general election campaign this fall.
They would be well-advised to make him their nominee.
Our Opinion editorials represent the consensus view of The Sioux City Journal editorial board. Members of the board include: Bruce Miller, editor; Michael Gors, editorial page editor; Dave Dreeszen; managing editor; Tim Hynds, chief photographer.