Juliana Martinez- Guest Writer
In January of 2019, Iowa State Senator and Dordt Professor, Randy Feenstra, announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Iowa’s fourth district. Although running for the U.S. House is never a small feat, beating a 9-term incumbent presented an unlikely victory for Feenstra. In 2018, only 35 of the 470 congressional elections resulted in victories over incumbents. In our nation’s history, only about 10% of all elections ever result in an incumbent’s defeat.
On June 2nd, when Feenstra defeated King by nearly 10 percentage points; the unlikely victory became a reality.
“I came from a Steve King Family,” said Kendal Zylstra, a Dordt Student and Lyon County native. “My grandparents skipped my cousin’s wedding in 2002 to go to the nominating convention to make sure Steve King got in” But, like many voters in this last election, the Zylstra family saw the need for change.
“We [have] been big Steve King supporters, and then over time, it has worn us out.” Zylstra noted that Feenstra is “a truly conservative candidate who’s passionate about his faith, who knows a lot when it comes to politics, and he’s had actual experience… and compared to Steve King, he’s actually articulate.” Zylstra continued, “he seems very genuine, very religious, very conservative. And so that’s what pulled me into this campaign.”
The Zylstra family is not alone in their pursuit of change.
“It was surreal to see the community of people getting together and saying ‘Hey, I’m going to support you,’” said Feenstra.
During the primary campaign, Feenstra noted the importance of his team: from schedulers, to neighbors who were making phone calls, to prayer warriors from all across the district, everyone played a vital role. Even his church began receiving notes of encouragement from across Iowa’s fourth district.
“I thought I would be so nervous [leading up to the campaign], but I was at peace with whatever the outcome was going to be… God kept calling me, and a door was opening wider and wider.”
After nearly 17 months of campaigning, the polls closed at 9pm on June the 2nd.
“When the first result came in, I think it was 10 points down or so. My mom said from the other room, ‘Don’t let Randy see that!’ but, I saw it,” Feenstra said with some laughter. “I think everybody had a little anxiety because we all put so much effort into it.”
After the polls declared his victory, Feenstra realized the weight of the office he may hold.
“You can always think about it, but now it’s real.”
As he noted, the stage feels a bit bigger when the President of the United States calls to congratulate you, along with Minority Leader McCarthy, Vice President Pence, House Republican Whip Scalise, and Senator Thune, just to name a few.
Although there are certainly individuals who were sad to see the 18-year incumbent lose his seat, the optimism for Feenstra across the state is unmistakable.
“I don’t think Scholten (the democratic nominee) stands a chance. I think Feenstra should cruise to election, and it [will be] very exciting to have a Dordt professor as one of 435 members of Congress” in Washington, D.C.,