DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Federation of College Republicans’ (IFCR) executive board endorsed in Republican primaries in all four of Iowa’s congressional districts.
IFCR said they solicited feedback from individual chapters, but several chapters said that did not happen and the group should remain neutral in contested primaries. IFCR represents 25 chapters throughout the state.
IFCR endorsed State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, in a two-way Republican primary in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.
“Mrs. Hinson has a phenomenal record as a congresswoman (sic) in the Iowa legislature advancing both conservative and nonpartisan bills,” they wrote. “The IFCR Board is confident Mrs. Hinson possesses the resume and abilities to flip the First Congressional District red and be a strong leader the younger generation can count on.”
IFCR endorsed former U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling in a five-way primary in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
“Mr. Schilling has proven he has the talent and resources to win in the past, managing to turn a blue district red in the leftist state of Illinois. He demonstrated the principles and ideals of a true and whole conservative, fighting to protect our God-given freedoms, Second Amendment rights, and importantly, the rights of the unborn,” they wrote in part.
They endorsed Bill Schafer in a two-way primary against former U.S. Rep. David Young in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.
“Mr. Schafer has spent over 30 years serving our country in the United States Army, and in that time developed traits that will translate to being a leader of the conservative movement in Congress,” IFCR’s board wrote in part.
IFCR’s board then endorsed State Senator Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, in a five-way primary in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District that includes the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Steve King of Kiron.
“Mr. Feenstra has established himself as a true conservative warrior, endorsing and writing multiple bills in the Iowa Senate that have advanced the conservative movement in Iowa,” they wrote. “Mr. Feenstra’s voting records have established him as being fiscally conservative, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and a conservative champion for all Iowans.”
A past IFCR chair and leadership of the College Republicans chapters at the University of Iowa, Drake University, Dordt University, Loras College, Northwestern College, Buena Vista College, and University of Dubuque disavowed the endorsements in a joint statement calling IFCR’s decision to go forward with the endorsements against objections of several chapters “an abuse of power.”
“I am disheartened by the actions the new IFCR executive board has taken to undermine the long-standing precedent and the individual chapters they represent,” Alex Byrnes, former IFCR chair, said. “Instead of fulfilling their duty to represent the best interests of their chapters they have chosen a path of self-benefit, harming the chapters and the credibility of the Federation.”
“The decision by IFCR to make an endorsement for the third congressional district without the consideration or consent of the largest chapter in the district disregards the voice of our coalition of College Republicans,” said Drake College Republican co-chairs John Altendorf and Riley Swanson. “We are disappointed by their decision to wade into the primary and ignore our voice.”
The joint statement also notes that individual chapters have made endorsements in the past, for instance, Drake University’s College Republicans endorsed Young, but believe IFCR should maintain the precedent of neutrality in contested endorsements.
Statewide Republican organizations in Iowa have historically not endorsed during contested primaries. Still, Republican leadership is known to work behind-the-scenes for their candidate of choice, and several Republican elected officials have endorsed in contested primaries.