J.D. Scholten is in for round two for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, eyeing a rematch with U.S. Rep. Steve King.
He announced his candidacy this morning with a video narrated by Kevin Costner that’s heavy on rural Iowa imagery.
“We’re building a people-powered campaign that is focused on meeting with, listening to, and earning the trust and support of voters in all 39 counties in Iowa’s 4th district,” Scholten said in a statement. “This time, we’re going to get the job done. Too many Iowan families feel like they’re getting kicked in the dirt, suffering from an economy and a government that just doesn’t have their interests at heart. We need a system that works for all people — not just special interests and those who are lucky enough to be at the top.”
On Twitter, Scholten referenced the domestic terrorist and mass shooting attacks this weekend. Many commentators this weekend noted the similarities between the motivations of the El Paso terrorist and King’s rhetoric on immigrants.
“Hatred/racism that have become too commonplace in [America] does fuel violence,” Scholten wrote. “We need to come together and urgently take action to keep our people & our children safe. It’s deeply hypocritical to pray for a problem that you’re unwilling to step up and resolve.”
No other Democrat is expected to run in the conservative, western Iowa district.
In 2018, King narrowly won a ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating Scholten, a first-time candidate, by about 3 1/2 points. Scholten won six of the district’s 39 counties, including its largest population centers of Woodbury County [Sioux City] and Story County [Ames].
King typically won re-election handily before last year, but the 2018 contest proved his vulnerability.
While the congressman imploded in the final weeks of that election due to press coverage around a trip King took to Austria to meet with a group associated with Neo-Nazis, Scholten had also put himself in a strong position in the district to take advantage of the situation. Scholten, a former baseball player, deployed a go-everywhere strategy of traveling throughout the district on a RV, nicknamed the “Sioux City Sue” after his hometown.
This year, the Republican establishment has largely disavowed King after an interview he gave in January to the New York Times, where he questioned why white nationalism and white supremacy was offensive. Shortly after, House leadership stripped him of his committee assignments.
Iowa Secretary of State data show 117,662 active registered Democrats in the 4th District compared to 188,449 Republicans. There are 174,954 active “No Party” voters.
Scholten immediately was endorsed Monday by national organizations, including Democracy for America, a supporter of his since the 2018 contest.
“In this race, Iowans have the opportunity to replace one of the most racist and divisive members of Congress with a leader who will fight for an economy that puts the interests of farmers and working families ahead of Wall Street, healthcare that puts people before profits, and an immigration system rooted in justice and compassion,” said Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America, in a statement.”
Scholten called the DFA endorsement “a critical step forward in our people-powered campaign to deliver real, positive change for Iowa’s 4th District.”
Since last the election, Scholten joined the One Country Project to help Democrats reconnect with rural voters and the issues most important to them.
To meet Scholten in the general election, King must win a four-way primary in June 2020, featuring state Sen. Randy Feenstra; Army veteran Bret Richards; and Jeremy Taylor, a Woodbury County supervisor.
And at the end of the second fundraising quarter, which concluded in June, he lagged significantly in fundraising. Feenstra, who secured the endorsement of influential conservative Bob Vander Plaats, ended the quarter with $337,315 in cash-on-hand compared to King’s $18,365.
King was not at U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride in June. Last week, Iowa’s junior senator said she would not endorse anyone in the primary.
By Elizabeth Meyer