# IA-04



IA-04: Why won't Randy Feenstra debate Ryan Melton?

Every Iowa candidate seeking a statewide or federal office has agreed to at least one televised debate, with one exception: U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra. The Republican running for a second term in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district rejected an invitation from Iowa PBS without explanation. As a result, “Iowa Press” will interview Feenstra’s Democratic challenger Ryan Melton during the September 23 program, which had been set aside for the IA-04 debate.

Feenstra already backed out of a joint forum planned for the Clay County fair. According to Melton, the only joint appearance the incumbent agreed to was an event the Iowa Corn Growers Association hosted last week, which was not a debate and not open to the public.

In 2020, Feenstra debated his GOP primary opponents and Democrat J.D. Scholten during the general election campaign. What’s he worried about now?

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A call for solidarity with Iowa's LGBTQ+ community

Ryan Melton is the Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

Here is the speech I delivered at the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention on June 18. (You can listen to the audio here.)

“My brother posted a reflection on his life journey on Facebook yesterday, that was really compelling to me, so I wanted to focus on this today. He is 26, one of my best friends, and he’s trans.

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Barriers for third-party candidates reduced Iowa voters' choices

New laws enacted by Republican legislators and Governor Kim Reynolds succeeded in limiting third-party competition for Iowa’s state and federal offices.

According to the general election candidate list published by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office on March 21, only one minor-party candidate qualified for a federal office this year: Bryan Jack Holder, who is running in the fourth Congressional district. Libertarians are fielding candidates for governor and lieutenant governor: Rick Stewart and Marco Battaglia. In 2018, Libertarian candidates were on the ballot for all of Iowa’s statewide and federal offices.

No independent candidate filed for any federal or statewide office in Iowa this year. For most of the last decade’s elections, independent candidates were on the ballot for several of those offices.

Only two candidates not representing a major party filed for any of the the 34 Iowa Senate seats on the ballot in 2022; both are running in Senate district 17. Across the 100 Iowa House races, only three Libertarian candidates and four independents will appear on the November ballot.

Before Republicans passed new restrictions in 2019 and 2021, Iowa voters were able to choose candidates not representing either major party in more elections.

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How forecasters see Iowa's 2022 Congressional races

As election year approaches, the leading national political forecasters have updated their analysis of the coming U.S. Senate and House elections. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball revised its House ratings on December 16, while Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and the Cook Political Report did so on December 28 and December 29, respectively.

The consensus is that Republicans are favored to win most of Iowa’s Congressional races, but the one House district held by a Democrat is a toss-up.

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First look at finalized Iowa maps, with incumbent match-ups

Iowa lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the Legislative Services Agency’s second redistricting plan on October 28, by 48 votes to 1 in the Iowa Senate and 93 votes to 2 in the House. Democrats had already committed to approving any nonpartisan maps. Republicans liked that this plan (unlike the first LSA proposal) creates four U.S. House districts that Donald Trump carried. It also gives the party an excellent chance to maintain their Iowa House and Senate majorities.

Republican State Senator Ken Rozenboom cast the only vote against the maps in the upper chamber. The plan puts him in the same district as his GOP colleague Adrian Dickey.

In the lower chamber, only GOP State Representatives Tom Jeneary and Jon Jacobsen voted against the redistricting plan. Both are placed in House districts with other Republican incumbents, but Jacobsen told Bleeding Heartland in a telephone interview that’s not why he opposed the plan. Rather, he said the legislative maps carve up Pottawattamie County outside Council Bluffs into several districts represented by incumbents who live elsewhere.

I’ll have more to say about some legislative districts in forthcoming posts. For now, here are the basics about the plan Governor Kim Reynolds will soon sign into law. UPDATE: The governor signed the bill on November 4.

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