IRWIN, Iowa – On Friday, former Irwin Mayor Bret Richards, a candidate for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, called for a televised debate before the Republican primary. He said U.S. Rep. Steve King and State Senator Randy Feenstra’s refusal to debate on Iowa Public Broadcasting Service before the June 2 primary election “does a real disservice to the voters of Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District.”
Iowa PBS invited all five Republican candidates to a televised debate on May 14. Still, only three – Richards, Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor, and Arnold Park businessman Steve Reeder – confirmed their attendance. The debate that would have been the only televised match-up between the candidates was canceled. King and Feenstra had previously pledged to participate in a series of debates.
Richards said it’s not the first time he’s seen DC or Des Moines politicians “say one thing and do another.”
“Iowans (that) I speak to want a better sense of who’s on the ballot this year. We certainly owe them that much. But I can understand why Senator Feenstra would rather hide his record of flip-flopping on sports gambling and countless other conservative causes behind Big Money TV ads, especially considering his poor performance in the last debate. Conservative Iowans aren’t persuaded by his Jeb Bush-style campaign. And although Senator Feenstra is willing to sell his convictions for the next PAC check, I’m confident Iowans won’t let his Never Trump, out-of-state donors buy this election,” Richards said.
“I’m sure these holdouts believe that it’s smart politics to play it safe and try to run out the clock, but it’s not right to the voters. This is the sort of political calculation Iowans have come to expect from swampy DC politicians. The voters deserve better than that, especially when the COVID-19 outbreak has prevented them from seeing the candidates in person these past few months. With 25 days to go until Primary Day, I remain firm in my commitment that I’m willing to debate my opponents anytime and anywhere and stand strong for my values and beliefs. I have no reason not to debate. Only phony conservatives with a flimsy record have a reason to run and hide,” he added.
Richards served in the U.S. Army before returning to his hometown of Irwin to run a family business, which included a chain of convenience stores. He is an adjunct professor at Creighton University, and he also serves as board chair of the Manning Regional Healthcare Center.