By Clara Janzen Staff Writer | Posted Jul 28, 2017 at 4:18 PM Ames Tribune
JD Scholten, who announced his candidacy for Iowa’s Fourth District congressional seat Tuesday, made his first Ames campaign stop of the season at London Underground Friday night.
Scholten, 37 and an Iowa native, played professional baseball after graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in world and American history, and recently moved back to Iowa from Seattle, where he has been working as a litigation paralegal.
“I’ve always had the intent of moving back, but my grandmothers passing in December really solidified that decision,” said Scholten.
To those who may voice concerns that he is out of touch with Iowa after not living here for awhile, he said he would argue no one is better geographically qualified to represent Iowa’s Fourth District.
“My dad is from Larchwood and my mom is from Lake Mills and they met in Mason City, and I was born in Ames and raised in Sioux City,” Scholten said. “If you look at a map, that’s basically the (Fourth District) quadrant.”
Scholten admits the road to running against incumbent Steve King will be difficult, but said he plans on travelling and working every day until the November 2018 mid-term election.
King was first elected to Congress in 2003 and is in his eighth term after defeating Democratic challenger Kim Weaver in November’s General Election. Weaver mounted a brief repeat challenge to King earlier this year before withdrawing, citing family medical concerns and threats made against her.
Repeated telephone messages left for King and members of his staff Friday were not returned.
When asked about his strengths that will help him in his campaign and in the potential position of congressman, Scholten said he feels as if he’s, “a bridge between different groups, I’m a fifth-generation Iowan, but the first generation in my family to be raised in the city.
“All of my extended family are small town farmers, so I can be a bridge between the rural and the urban,” he said.
This is Scholten’s first time running for public office, but he feels his work as a paralegal has prepared him for the challenges that lie ahead.
“A lot of the cases that I worked on involved fighting for the underdog, and that, I feel, is exactly like this,” he said. “I’m the underdog right now.”
Scholten specialized in electronic discovery and intellectual property law, helping small businesses in legal battles with large companies and helping people gain copyrights to their work, but he also helped on a lot of pro bono cases.
“Those cases were the most meaningful, like helping a political refugee get asylum, it reminded me just how lucky we are here in America,” he said.
One big challenge for anyone running against King is single issue voters, who may actually side with Democrats on a lot of issues except for one or two. Scholten said his views on immigration, one of the biggest hot button issues of the day, stems from concerns over the agricultural industry which impacts Iowans greatly.
“The biggest thing with immigration is that the Farm Bureau has come out and said they want immigration reform, because the way it is right now if we enhance enforcement it’s going to cost the agricultural industry $60 billion and we can’t afford that, let’s do the common sense thing and work towards reform.”
Another big issue Scholten will have to address in heavily rural Iowa is gun control, where hunting is popular and seen as necessary by many.
“I view it as multiple issues,” he said. “I think there is a solution where the hunters and farmers can continue to do what they do, but on the other hand to regulate it in bigger cities where the gun violence issues are occurring the most.”
When asked why he is better equipped to represent the Fourth District than King, Scholten said, “this campaign isn’t about Steve King.
“It’s about the people in this district that I know and love, I’ll prepare as best I can and I’ll give it the best I can, and at the end of the day I’ll accept the outcome.”