Rep. Feenstra wins primary challenge in Iowa race after fending off conservative challenge

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Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, on Tuesday secured victory in his primary challenge from a former CIA officer and retired Army ranger after a fight over who was the more conservative candidate.

Feenstra overcame a challenge from Kevin Virgil, who had sought to take the nomination away from the lawmaker. Feenstra is seeking a third term in Congress.

Feenstra had drastically outspent his opponent during the race. As of mid-May, Feenstra had spent $3.3 million on the race and had nearly $1.1 million in the bank. 

Virgil spent about $83,000 and had slightly more than $4,000 on hand. 


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Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, questions Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young during a House Committee on the Budget hearing on President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget on March 29, 2022. (Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)

Feenstra touted his record on issues, including securing the southern border, fighting for farmers in the Hawkeye State, standing up to China and standing with Israel. Virgil has criticized Feenstra’s votes for aid to foreign countries, including Israel, and said he opposes doing so unless it is in the country’s interest. 

“Israel is a sovereign state, and they have every right to defend themselves as well as they should. But I don’t believe that certainly sending billions of dollars of foreign aid when oftentimes you know the Israeli government isn’t even asking us for aid, is a good strategy that prioritizes American interests,” Virgil said in an interview with CBS News.

Virgil carried the endorsement of former Rep. Steve King, who represented the area but who lost his bid for a 10th term to Feenstra in the 2020 primary. Feenstra has the backing of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.


Virgil said at a recent debate he decided to run because he believes Feenstra “has very quietly proven to be one of the worst conservatives in Congress,” according to The Des Moines Register.

But Feenstra told the Register Virgil is “the liberal between the two of us” and said Virgil had not lived in Iowa for years before deciding to move back to his home state to run for Congress. Virgil said he planned to move back to Iowa for some time.


Kevin Virgil challenged Rep. Randy Feenstra for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s fourth district. (Virgil for Congress)

The two have also fought over energy issues directly affecting the state, including standards related to ethanol. 


The 4th District is the safest congressional seat for Iowa Republicans. Voters there backed Trump in 2020 with 62% of the vote, compared with 36% for Biden. It means Feenstra is the favorite to win the general election contest in the fall.

Feenstra will face Democrat Ryan Melton, a candidate he previously defeated comfortably in the 2020 race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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