Ryan Melton Taking Another Run At Iowa’s 4th District Seat

Ryan Melton. Screenshot from Iowa Press/Iowa PBS

Ryan Melton wants a rematch with US Rep. Randy Feenstra for the right to represent Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.

Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, has represented the district since 2021 and is seeking a third term in 2024. In their 2022 race, Feenstra captured 67% of the vote while Melton, a Democrat from Nevada, got around 30%.

If elected, Melton would be the district’s first Democrat representative in 30 years. He first ran for public office in 2022 because “no other Democrat was going to make the ballot” in Iowa’s most conservative and Republican district. So far, no other Democrats have announced their intention to seek the party’s nomination for the 4th Congressional District race.

Although Melton admits he’s not a typical candidate to run for office, he said now is the time to stand up for democracy and get involved.

“I didn’t know the first thing about campaigning,” Melton said of his 2022 campaign. “I didn’t have any money and I didn’t have any connections. But in the age of anti-democracy, I just thought it was absolutely unacceptable that we were going to concede a quarter of our congressional districts without a fight.”

Looking back, Melton said his 2022 campaign proved he was a credible fighter for the people, with a shoestring budget and campaign length about half of a traditional candidate. Melton said his greatest accomplishments from his first run include:

  • Earning more votes in the 4th Congressional District than Democrat candidate for governor Deidre DeJear
  • Earning more votes than 70% of roughly 120 major party candidates that ran in general elections for the US House who raised $75,000 or less

“This time around, we’re starting earlier, we have more name recognition, and our infrastructure is already built,” Melton said. “We are certainly going to be able to do a number of things we couldn’t last time because we’ve already hit the ground running.”

Unlike his 2022 campaign, Melton will also focus on getting other Democrats to run for office in northwest Iowa where it’s not unusual for Republicans to run in uncontested races.

“During the first campaign, it was really hard for us to go into a town, deliver a message, deliver a vision, and then not have anyone running at the state level that could sustain our message,” Melton said. “Out of 25 state house races, only 10 democrats ran in 2022. This time, our campaign is also focusing on getting as many Democrats to run for state house as possible, not just to help our campaign, but to help all Democrats in the fourth district.”

Strategically, Melton said the campaign will emphasize community outreach, fundraising, and advertising. The values Melton is running on will not change this time around, it’s just a matter of reaching more people. 

“All of the issues we ran on in 2022 are worse today, and all of the concerns are heightened,” Melton said. “Whether it be carbon capture pipelines via eminent domain abuse, reproductive rights, discrimination against minorities in our districts, attacks on democracy, public education, or the environment—every single thing we ran on in 2022 is under greater threat in 2024.”

Melton said the campaign will not accept any corporate political action committee money because he wants people to know his words and values are his own. 

“We’re not going by talking points given to us by anyone,” he said. “We’re running for and standing on what we believe in and that’ll be the same thing we’ll be doing every single day of this campaign.”


UPDATE (July 19, 2023, 10:41 a.m.): This story has been updated after a correction from Ryan Melton.


by Grace Katzer

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