“I’m disappointed for the voters.” Iowa 4th District Representative Feenstra, Challenger Melton Face Off On Abandoned Campaign Forum At Clay County Fair | Local News
SPENCER, Iowa — With less than 70 days to go until Election Day for Iowa’s fourth congressional district, Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull and Democratic challenger Ryan Melton are back and forth about a joint appearance canceled of a contestant at the largest county fair in the district.
Feenstra, a first-term House member, and Melton, an insurance executive from Nevada, Iowa, were originally scheduled to appear at a Sept. 12 forum at the Clay County Fair in Spencer. On Wednesday, those plans were scuttled. That same day, Melton took to Twitter to talk about the cancellation.
“Unfortunately they are canceling the Joint Voters Forum at the Clay Co. Fair because my opponent backed down,” Melton tweeted. “Another example of my opponent being unwilling to appear in an open forum.”
Melton claimed media partners helping with the event pulled out after the Feenstra team reached out to say the congressman would not be attending.
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Feenstra’s campaign challenged Melton’s versions of events.
Clay County Fair director and CEO Jeremy Parsons said he received an email from a media partner simply saying the event had been canceled. (Parsons added that a forum between Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear has also been canceled.)
Since the June primary, when Melton won the Democratic nomination for the 4th District, Feenstra and Melton have yet to share a stage or attend the same event together.
“I’m disappointed for the voters. Congressman Feenstra is also representing me,” Melton told the Journal in a phone call. “And I hope my congressman will take the time to get out and meet people in open forums where he can face scrutiny… Put yourself in positions where people can ask you questions. questions and criticize you.”
Feenstra’s campaign disputed Melton’s claim that Feenstra avoids public events.
“Desperate politicians are saying desperate things. Congressman Feenstra will be attending two joint forums in the coming weeks,” Feenstra campaign spokesman Joe Lakin said. “He has also visited each of the 39 counties in the 4th District at least three times and is currently on his fourth visit. Since he first ran for Congress, he has been focused on securing results for the 4th District and that’s exactly what he did.”
On Monday, Feenstra made an appearance with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who is also running for re-election, at an event in Lake City to talk about the 2023 Farm Bill. Feenstra also visited the Farm progress show at Boone on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On a call with the Journal, Melton touted his own campaign stops and willingness to speak to voters in the Fourth District which, after redistricting last year, now stretches from Sioux City to Marshalltown and stretches as far south as Hamburg.
“I spoke to Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents throughout the campaign,” Melton said. “They know where I stand and I’ve come under scrutiny for certain positions and defended them and learned and grown. That’s what representativeness is all about.”
In 2020, Feenstra defeated nine-term incumbent Steve King in the GOP primary for the Fourth District before facing JD Scholten, a former professional baseball player and paralegal, in the November election. Feenstra won by more than 20 percentage points.
For 2022, the Cook Political Report, which analyzes state, federal and presidential elections, rates the Fourth District as having a +16 percentage point advantage for Republicans. It is the only one of Iowa’s four congressional races classified as “solid Republican”.
Melton acknowledged the difficult climb he faces in a GOP stronghold and said he thinks Feenstra takes that into account in his campaign appearances.
“He thinks he can still ride and be under the radar,” Melton said.
Although the Clay County event was canceled, Melton said he and Feenstra were scheduled to attend two Iowa Corn Growers Association events on Sept. 6 and 7 in Fort Dodge and Sheldon, respectively.
However, Melton said both events are closed forums.
Jared McNett is an online editor and reporter for the Sioux City Journal. You can reach him at 712-293-4234 and follow him on Twitter @TwoHeadedBoy98.