Meet the Candidates 2024: U.S. House District 4 GOP primary

Gun Rights

Ahead of the June 4 primary vote, the Times-Republican sent questionnaires to all of the candidates in contested races for county, state and federal offices. Today’s feature highlights the two Republicans — two-term incumbent Randy Feenstra and challenger Kevin Virgil — running for the U.S. House seat in Iowa’s Fourth District. Democrat Ryan Melton, who unsuccessfully ran against Feenstra in the 2022 election, is mounting another campaign for the seat.

Responses from Feenstra and Virgil are printed below.

1. What is your personal, professional and educational background, and why are you running for the U.S. House?

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Randy Feenstra: I have lived in Northwest Iowa my entire life growing up in Hull. Hull is also where I met my wife and where we have raised our four children. Prior to my election to Congress, I worked in both the private and public sectors. My experience includes Head of Sales at the Foreign Candy Company, Hull City Administrator, Iowa State Bank Insurance Manager, and Business and Economics professor at Dordt University. I also served as Sioux County Treasurer and Iowa State Senator where I served as the Chair of the Iowa State Senate Ways and Means Committee. I am currently serving my second term in Congress and am running for re-election to continue delivering conservative results for my constituents.

Kevin Virgil: I am a fifth-generation Iowan and was raised on a farm in O’Brien County. After high school I went to West Point and later served in the Army (82nd Airborne Division and later in the 75th Ranger Regiment). After 9/11 I was offered an opportunity to serve overseas with the CIA. Later I started a company that sells software solutions to the private sector and to the Department of Defense. I have a degree from West Point and an MBA from Emory University in Atlanta.

I am running to represent Iowa’s 4th District in Congress because Western Iowa wants a Congressman who will vote in their interests, and not those of large out-of-state donors. I also believe that several years of poor leadership at the national level have hurt our nation and we need a new generation of leaders who will work hard to return prosperity to America.

2. Mr. Feenstra, why do you feel that you deserve another term, and Mr. Virgil, why have you decided to enter the Republican primary in this race?

Feenstra: Each year, I travel to all 36 counties that I represent at least twice as part of my biannual 36 County Tour. Listening to my constituents and taking their concerns and suggestions back to Congress is a top priority for me. Our farmers and producers are rightfully concerned that China is buying our farmland, they’re making every dollar last a little longer to keep up with rising input costs, and they’re asking for new export markets for their goods. As a member of both the House Agriculture Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, I’m working diligently to deliver a strong Farm Bill for Iowa and open new export markets for our agricultural community. I’m also glad to report that my legislation to ban China from buying American farmland suitable for homegrown energy production passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin. I’ve also spoken to families and small business owners who are struggling from high inflation, which will only be exacerbated when the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expires next year. That’s why I have voted for legislation to extend these tax cuts, support our farmers, and keep our main streets strong. I will continue to travel the district, listen to my constituents’ concerns, and deliver real results.

Virgil: I entered the race because our current congressman is clearly not voting in the interests of his constituents. Over the past four years he has repeatedly voted in an unconstitutional manner — so much that the Republican Liberty Caucus recently gave him a failing grade of 50/100 when rating his compliance with the Constitution. He has voted for nearly every federal spending bill and almost always votes to give more power to the federal government at the expense of the people. This unfortunately makes sense when you consider that 97% of his campaign donations come from outside of Iowa’s 4th District. He doesn’t work for us — he works for his large out-of-state donors. Iowans deserve better and that’s why I am running for Congress as a Republican.

3. In general, do you agree with the House’s current fiscal priorities, and how, if at all, would you propose changing course if elected?

Feenstra: Our national debt is out of control. Our country is currently adding $1 trillion to our national debt about every 100 days. Our government should not be spending more dollars than we take in. That’s why, in response to President Biden’s $7.3-trillion budget proposal, I introduced legislation to require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress every single year. We must get our fiscal house in order so that we don’t leave our children and grandchildren with mountains of debt.

Virgil: In general, no. Today’s Congress is spending trillions of dollars that it doesn’t have, and our fiscal deficit grows by an additional $1 trillion every 100 days. We are wasting enormous amounts of money and destroying the purchasing power of the dollar by funding many unconstitutional government agencies and wasteful programs.

I would vote against any spending bill that includes unconstitutional earmarks or any spending that does not prioritize American interests. Additionally I intend to push for a balanced budget and a complete restructuring of our most expensive federal programs, in order to make them more efficient while ensuring that we continue to provide services for those that need them.

4. Congress recently voted to provide about $95 billion in aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. Do you support this move, and how, if at all, do you feel that the U.S. should change course with regard to these conflicts?

Feenstra: President Biden’s failure on foreign policy has made America look weak on the national stage. As a result, our enemies no longer fear us and our allies no longer trust us. While some want us to turn our back on our allies, like Israel, I will not. We all witnessed Hamas’ and Iran’s barbaric attacks on Israel. This serves as another reminder of the importance of restoring the trust of America’s friends and fear of our enemies around the world.

Virgil: No. Providing tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid to other countries, particularly when sending that money does nothing to advance America’s interests, is a waste of the taxpayer’s money and I will never support it. All countries have an irrevocable right to defend themselves from foreign and domestic enemies and I will always support that. However, I do not support sending enormous sums of money abroad, which only serves to enrich special interests at the taxpayer’s expense.

5. The Fourth District is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the entire country. Do you support the Farm Bill currently being debated, and what, if any, changes would you propose?

Feenstra: I am proud to hold a seat on the Agriculture Committee, especially since Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District is the second-largest agriculture-producing district in the country. The upcoming Farm Bill needs to strengthen crop insurance, open new export markets for our producers, expand biofuels production, and ban China from buying our farmland. I’m also working to overturn California’s costly Prop 12 mandates on Iowa’s hog farmers and rescind President Biden’s burdensome WOTUS regulations on our farmers. I’m proud to deliver results for our farmers and rural Iowa.

Virgil: Yes I do support closer scrutiny of the “Farm Bill,” which I believe is improperly named in its current form. Only 10-15% of this bill relates to farmers and the agriculture industry; the majority of the bill deals with welfare, school lunches and other entitlements.

6. Do you support the use of eminent domain on private property for carbon capture pipelines? Why or why not?

Feenstra: As I have said numerous times, I do not support the use of eminent domain. The carbon capture project must be a negotiation between the private company and the private landowners.

Virgil: Absolutely not. Eminent domain, when used for the benefit of a privately held company, is unconstitutional per the Fifth Amendment. More than that, it is un-American. Property rights are among our most sacred values in this country. It is a shame that so many of our elected state leaders, including Congressperson Randy Feenstra, are working so hard to erode those rights on behalf of their large donors like Bruce Rastetter.

7. Now that Roe v. Wade has been repealed, do you feel that the federal government should take further action on the abortion issue, or should it simply be left to individual states?

Feenstra: As a father of four and a Christian, I believe that we are all born to further God’s kingdom and that we each have a reason and a purpose on this Earth. I strongly oppose tax-funded abortions and have always voted against federal attempts to legalize abortion up to the moment of birth. This issue is fundamental to my faith and we must continue to make laws that reflect our highest moral values and defend life.

Virgil: The federal government has a duty to protect life, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. I believe that life begins at conception and therefore the federal government must protect the unborn from the moment that life is created. At a national level, the repealing of Roe v Wade is a good thing because it has pushed the abortion issue down to the states. Per the Tenth Amendment, this is the right decision as each state can now adjudicate and enforce its own laws. Ultimately I would like to see a federal ban on abortion but this is a step in the right direction.

8. Should the federal government pass any additional regulations on gun ownership and sales or loosen them?

Feenstra: I am a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights and law-abiding Iowa gun owners. I strongly oppose red flag gun laws and have even introduced legislation – the Preserving Rights Of Tenants by Ensuring Compliance To (PROTECT) the Second Amendment Act – to ensure Americans who live in rental units that receive federal assistance cannot be barred from owning a firearm. I’m also proud to be the only candidate in the race to be endorsed by the NRA. As a constitutional conservative, I will continue to stand up against Biden’s radical schemes to infringe on our rights.

Virgil: I am a Second Amendment absolutist and will never support any additional regulations on gun ownership. I will only vote for legislation that reduces gun ownership regulations.

9. What is your position on the Biden administration’s student debt forgiveness policy, and how do you feel that the president’s executive powers should be regulated by Congress whether a Democrat or Republican is in the White House?

Feenstra: I am opposed to President Biden’s reckless student loan forgiveness policy. Debt cannot be canceled, only transferred. It’s really quite simple – if you take out a loan, you pay it back. Our nation is already nearly 35 trillion dollars in debt. We can’t afford to add another penny of student debt on the back of American families who are already feeling the pain of Biden’s inflation.

Virgil: Like most of the Biden administration’s disastrous policies, student loan forgiveness is both disgraceful and unwise. It is a shameful attempt to pander to younger voters and harvest votes. I would never support it.

Congress can already ‘regulate’ the executive branch through the ‘power of the purse.’ Congress can simply refuse to pass a budget that funds any initiative that the executive branch attempts to enact. This is why I believe that legislative elections are as important, if not more so, than the presidential election.

10. Are there any other major issues you would prioritize if elected to this seat?

Feenstra: President Biden has failed to keep the American people safe as known terrorists, drug traffickers, and millions of illegal immigrants pour over our open border. I’ve voted to build the wall, end radical “catch-and-release” policies, reinstate “Remain in Mexico,” and fully fund our brave border patrol agents. I also introduced Sarah’s Law — in memory of 21-year-old Sarah Root who was killed by a drunk driving illegal immigrant — to detain and punish illegal immigrants who harm or kill American citizens. Additionally, I introduced the Build the Wall and Fight Fentanyl Act to use money seized from the drug cartels to fund building the wall. We must secure our border.

Virgil: I want to return prosperity to small towns in Iowa, and I believe the best way that the federal government can do that is to make it easier for young people to become farmers. I will work hard to increase the availability of farm financing loans for younger people.

I also believe that our national immigration policy is completely broken. This is the top issue that I hear about on the campaign trail and I will work hard to fix it when elected. I propose a hard closure of the southern border, harsh penalties for companies that knowingly hire illegal aliens, and legislation to end the process of ‘citizenship by birthright’ whereby any child born in the United States automatically becomes a citizen regardless of their parents’ legal status.

11. Why are you the most qualified candidate in this race?

Feenstra: I am proud to represent Iowans in Congress. I see the problems and challenges Iowans are facing because of Biden’s reckless agenda. As a lifeline Iowan, I also understand the solutions. I will work everyday to stand up to Biden and deliver results for my constituents. I humbly ask for your vote on June 4th and I promise to always deliver conservative results for our families, farmers, small businesses, and rural communities. For more information, please visit feenstraforcongress.com.

Virgil: I am a veteran and an entrepreneur with a proven track record of success in multiple ventures throughout my life. I have served our country overseas, and worked in multiple capacities within the federal government. I understand the challenges that our country faces from threats abroad, and have a deep understanding of the threat that our out-of-control federal government presents to the American people today. Our current congressman has proven to be a weak leader who has no interest in meeting with his constituents. Iowans deserve better leaders, and I will work hard to provide them with the leadership that they deserve in Congress.

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