Spencer Daily Reporter: Local Democrats rally ahead of November elections

After a primary season with a smorgasbord of potential candidates to choose from, Clay County Democrats emphasized the importance of party unity while showing optimism in their chances of winning back Iowa’s governorship and the 4th Congressional District from Republicans.

“I attended the Democratic Party State Convention and I witnessed a lot of unity and passion moving forward,” Clay County Democratic Party central committee member Jared Gerlock said. “I had the chance to hear all the candidates speak. There was a lot that I liked about each of those candidates. For the Iowa District 4 race, we had a local candidate, Leann Jacobsen and I liked her, but I also liked J,D, Scholten. I had a chance to speak with him one-on-one and I found him likable. On the statewide ticket, Fred Hubbell wasn’t my first choice, but I like his stances on the issues and I think he will run a very effective campaign. ”

Local Democrat Dave Saboe also expressed a sense of hope regarding the party’s chance heading into November. Though he supported gubernatorial candidate John Norris because of his government experience, and Jacobsen because of her local appeal, he said both Scholten and Hubbell are candidates who represent many of the common ideals uniting the Democratic Party.

“Health care, but mental health especially, economic development and fair and equitable taxes, in other words make sure you tax everybody whether it be a corporation or an individual are issues we can unite around,” Saboe said. “We are worried about the uninsured. We want businesses to invest in Iowa from the ground up. Fiscal mismanagement in the present situation is not right. We have to fix that. Helping hold down tuition at community colleges and technical schools and increase funding to our K-12 schools.”

Gerlock and Saboe agreed on the importance of spreading the party’s message and “hitting the streets” before November’s election. Gerlock said there are many ways to get involved through the Clay County Democrats website, their Facebook and Twitter presence and by attending the party’s monthly meeting which is conducted at the Spencer Public Library at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of every month.

“I think there is a sense of urgency right now,” Gerlock said. “We see the results of the Trump administration and we are not happy with it. Democrats feel we could do a better job governing and we see the need to hold the Trump administration accountable which is not being done by the current congress.”

Full article: https://www.spencerdailyreporter.com/story/2534334.html

Vox – Steve King is a racist, and conservatives don’t want to talk about it

A longtime Republican member of Congress is retweeting Nazis and arguing in interviews that Somali Muslims shouldn’t be permitted to work in meatpacking plants in his district — and no GOP official appears to want to publicly challenge him.

The Republican is Rep. Steve King, an Iowan congressman who has served in the House of Representatives since 2003. He has a lengthy history of racist remarks that seem to go largely undiscussed by his fellow Republicans.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was more than happy to ask Rep. Maxine Waters to apologize for her comments at a rally, has denounced King’s comments only through his press secretary. Ryan’s spokesperson said, “The Speaker has said many times that Nazis have no place in our politics, and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.”

Lately conservatives are trying to pivot to a discussion of “civility” after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant on Friday because the owner disagreed with the administration’s policies. Yet King’s race-baiting and coy references to white nationalism remain “just kind of white noise,” according to a Republican who tried to challenge him in a 2016 primary.

But why?

The long, nativist history of Steve King
Steve King’s love of far-right sound bites isn’t new. In fact, in his estimation it’s the very foundation for his political career and even served as the basis of his first run for office. As Talking Points Memo detailed in a 2014 profile of King:

During the (Iowa Senate) campaign, he stumbled upon his signature issue in the legislature: English as the official language. He remembers the moment, down to the exact date. During an October 10, 1996 fundraiser at Yellow Smoke Park sponsored by then-Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, he made the speech that shaped his political future. “I was running through my topics and I said, ‘And I believe English should be the official language of the state of Iowa.’ And it just brought the house down. There was this huge applause,” King says. “I knew how strongly I believed in it. But I didn’t know how strongly they believed in it.”

Kings remarks came at a time of increased concern among Iowans over demographic change within their state resulting from immigrants arriving to work in factories and on farms. Such concern ended up giving populist and anti-immigrant sentiment real clout.

In fact, the same year that King gave his “English should be the state language” speech, paleoconservative nativist Patrick Buchanan was hosting rallies about an hour’s car drive north of Iowa’s Yellow Smoke Park, saying very much the same, as the New York Times reported in February 1996:

Meanwhile, at a restaurant next door to the motel, Patrick J. Buchanan spoke at a noontime rally this month and sought out a local newspaper reporter to denounce a local meat-packing plant for hiring what he said were illegal aliens. Then, he demanded that English be designated the United States’ official language.

Within the House of Representatives, King’s role is relatively small; his only leadership position is on the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and civil justice. And he’s not particularly popular among mainstream Republicans. One conservative writer described him to me as “marginal.” Another commentator and pundit told me that King was “a joke” and “a stupid asshole.”

But all this and King’s nativist rhetoric have not prevented him from becoming an incredibly important figure among conservatives. As National Review wrote in 2015, “The outspoken congressman commands tremendous influence among conservatives who agree with his staunch stances on immigration, abortion, and same-sex marriage, especially in his western Iowa district.”

And his endorsement — and the Iowa Freedom Summit where Republican presidential candidates tried to impress him — played a massive role in the Iowa’s 2016 Republican presidential primary (though many Republicans didn’t particularly enjoy it.)

King’s racist rhetoric
But most Republicans, particularly those in the Midwest, have not embraced nativist politics — and white supremacist politics — to the extent that King has, particularly over the last decade.

King keeps a small version of the Confederate flag on his desk. (Never mind that Iowa was a Union state during the Civil War.) In 2008 King said that if Barack Hussein Obama won the presidency, “The radical Islamists, the al Qaeda … would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror.” He later explained that they would supposedly do so because of Obama’s middle name.

In 2016 King filed an amendment to block efforts to place the image of abolitionist luminary Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill: He criticized “liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups.” And in a 2017 interview, speaking about upcoming demographic changes whereby nonwhite Americans would surpass white Americans in population, he said, “I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.” (During that same interview, he recommended right-wight strategist Steve Bannon’s favorite and extremely racist book, The Camp of the Saints.)

Why good Republicans ignore bad (and racist) tweets
The Republican response to King has been muted, to say the least. When King tweeted about “someone else’s babies,” Speaker Paul Ryan said that he “would like to think he misspoke.”

And even in the midst of the ongoing conversation about civility among members of the GOP, especially in reaction to Rep. Maxine Waters’s statements at a rally that have been widely condemned by Republicans and some Democrats, Republicans have remained quiet about King’s continued comments.

When I spoke to Jay Cost, a conservative writer and historian who writes for National Review and the Weekly Standard, he said that the reason for the Republican silence on King was simple: It’s easier, and better for Republicans.

“Republicans making hay out of the [Maxine Waters] thing advances the goal of electing more Republicans, while focusing on King impedes it,” he told me. Cost added that the situation presented by King is similar to the prior scenario with Ron Paul, a former Republican member of Congress and a Libertarian Party candidate for president: There is little Republican leaders can do to control someone who is a giant pest but who hasn’t technically broken any rules of the chamber.

“There is virtually nothing they can do about King, anyway, even if they wanted to (and they probably would like to),” Cost wrote me in an email. “Leadership has certain strings they can pull with their members, but not as many as they’d like us to think.”

And despite King’s rhetoric, he keeps winning elections in a Iowa district that’s still quite conservative and very worried about immigration. In 2016 one potential Democratic challenger to King even dropped out, after claiming to have received death threats. Nonetheless, King does have a Democratic challenger in 2018: former professional baseball player J.D. Scholten.

For now, Steve King has no reason not to tweet. And there’s no reason for Republicans to stop him — and they’re not going to try.

Full article: https://www.vox.com/2018/6/28/17506880/steve-king-twitter-racism-congress-republicans

Roll Call – Steve King Refuses to Apologize for Retweeting Nazi Sympathizer

Iowa Rep. Steve King defended retweeting a Nazi sympathizer Tuesday and said he would neither apologize nor delete the tweet.

King told CNN he did not realize that the person he retweeted earlier this month, Mark Collett, was a Nazi sympathizer who has spoken favorably of Adolf Hitler.

Collett had tweeted about how a majority of younger Italians opposed mass migration. King quoted the tweet and added, “Europe is waking up…Will America…in time?”

King said he had never heard of Collett before retweeting him.

“I think it’s really unjust for anyone to assign the beliefs of someone else because there’s a message there among all of that. I mean, it’s the message, not the messenger,” the Iowa Republican said.

But King refused to apologize for the message, even if he didn’t agree with the messenger.

“Because then it would be like I’m admitting that I did something, now I’m sorry about it. I’m not sorry, I’m human,” he said.

King further expanded by saying the United States is a “Judeo-Christian” country and he doesn’t agree with creating “enclaves in America that are the antithesis of Americanism.”

King told CNN he was walking between meetings when he retweeted a Breitbart article that Collett had shared.

“It’s pretty simple. I tweeted a Breitbart story, I didn’t tweet a message from [Collett],” he said.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman offered muted criticism and didn’t mention King’s name when she said, “The speaker has said many times that Nazis have no place in our politics, and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.”

Full article: https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/steve-king-justifies-retweeting-nazi-sympathizer

Iowa State Daily – Activists protest at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa office

A swath of protesters populated the sidewalk in front of Congressman Steve King’s office on Monday afternoon.

The protest was organized by NextGen Iowa. Those in attendance called King racist and condemned various statements he has made, as well as positions he has held.

“A lot of people think that, because this executive order was signed last week, this issue is solved and it’s over with,” said Mara Kealey, an organizer with NextGen Iowa. That is not the case at all. There are still 2,000 separated families with no transition plan at all, and, at the end of the day, Steve King is still our representative. He is letting this go on. We want the Ames community, the ISU community and everyone to know: Steve King is a blatant racist; he doesn’t represent any immigrant values.”

Haley Hager, the Ames director for NextGen Iowa, said the group is working to replace Steve King in November.

“We are mobilizing and showing Steve King that we won’t stand up with his hateful rhetoric,” Hager said. “We are showing him that we will vote for progressive leaders like J.D. Scholten in November.”

Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Joni Landeros, an organizer with NetGen Iowa and a junior in anthropology at Iowa State.

“[Steve King] has established the idea that it’s okay to be racist among folks of privilege,” Landeros said. “Who aren’t affected by his laws.”

Chelle Bee, a member of the Choctaw tribe and Ames resident, addressed the crowd about the persecution of Indigenous peoples of North America. Bee also took issue with the practices and policies of King and the Trump administration.

“We’re disgusted at being represented by such an individual,” Bee said.

Bee also criticized what she sees as a lack of empathy when saying something she wishes to say to King.

“I imagine staying hard and callous is much easier than caring, for someone like you, and I feel sorry for you,” Bee said.

King has come under criticism at various times in his career as a representative. Recently, King has faced criticism for support of policies that separated children from parents at the Mexican border and retweeting a British fascist in support of stopping the entrance of migrants into the United States.

NextGen America is a political nonprofit, of which NextGen Iowa is a branch of. NextGen America began as an environmental advocacy group and has since expanded their scope to include immigrant rights and health care, according to their website.

Full article: http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/article_6dc50928-78c0-11e8-93c2-2b87f3b59b3c.html

Endorsed by the Ames Tribune: Who can beat King? The answer may be Scholten

On Tuesday, Democratic voters in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District will choose which candidate will challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Steve King in November.

King has his own primary challenger in Cyndi Hanson, of Sioux City, but she has never risen to be a serious challenge to unseat the eight-term congressman from Kiron.

So we turn our attention to the three Democrats who hope to win Tuesday and take their shots at the controversial King, who has made headlines far more frequently for his racist, anti-immigrant comments than for any legislation he has introduced.

The three Democrats vying to appear on the ballot with King in the fall are Ames pediatrician John Paschen, Sioux City paralegal and former baseball player J.D. Scholten and Spencer City Councilwoman and business owner Leann Jacobsen.

All three sat down with the Ames Tribune’s Reader Advisory Board recently for hour-long conversations.

On the issues, for the most part, they could be clones. They all support single-payer health care plans and eventually universal health care.

They all support reasonable immigration reform that would provide clearer and less-cumbersome paths to citizenship.

Ditto on gun reform. They all agree something needs to be done to stop the seemingly growing level of carnage we’ve seen over the past year. They say they don’t want to take anyone’s guns away, but they do want to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

Being a pediatrician, Paschen spoke eloquently about the need to improve the Affordable Care Act, acknowledging its shortfalls, and about the need to ensure everyone is covered. He supports a ban on assault rifles and a buy-back program that would pay gunowners who turn in unused or unwanted weapons.

Jacobsen’s primary focus is revitalizing Iowa’s small, rural communities to make them places for innovation that attract young people who may otherwise leave for bigger cities or leave Iowa altogether.

Scholten is pretty much lock-step on the issues with Paschen and Jacobsen but said his connections to agriculture (his family has a farm in the district) makes him a more relatable candidate and more appealing to conservative and independent voters. And being from Sioux City, the largest community in the district, won’t hurt, he said. He believes if he can carry Woodbury County (where Sioux City is located) with 55 percent of the vote, he can win the 4th.

All three candidates are nice, intelligent, talented people who want to do what’s best for the state of Iowa.

So how does one choose?

In a Congressional district that leans overwhelmingly Republican, it would appear a Democrat doesn’t stand a chance. There are 118,000 registered Democrats, 191,000 registered Republicans and 175,000 registered as no party in Iowa’s sprawling, 39-county 4th District.

Even a popular former Iowa first lady and a young, energetic military veteran who outfundraised the incumbent failed to unseat King in previous elections.

With the candidates all lining up on the issues, the question we kept coming back to was who has the best chance of beating a conservative in a heavily conservative district?

It’s not a factor we feel completely comfortable basing our decision. Our board members were generally impressed with all three candidates.

But we believe Scholten’s ground game and political infrastructure gives him the best shot to beat King in November.

Scholten’s campaign frequently boasts about its fundraising and how it has outraised King. It has, raising $484,056 in the current election cycle to King’s $440,954, according to the Federal Election Commission, but so did Jim Mowrer, the military veteran from Boone, in 2014. He got shellacked by King. So we don’t believe fundraising, at least in the 4th District, is a good indicator of victory.

Scholten also shows he is engaged with those who are following his campaign. He has a booming social media presence with more than 56,000 Twitter followers. How much does that really matter? Maybe not much, as many of those followers are from outside Iowa who won’t have a voice in the election, but it does show that Scholten is reaching out to as many people possible.

He’s also working to connect to potential voters personally, traveling across the district in his RV.

“You can’t fake showing up,” he told our board.

We found him to be energetic, smart and disarming in ways that could help bridge the divide for some conservatives and maybe, just maybe, tip the scales in his favor.

Paschen, as much as we liked him (and we liked him a lot), is from Ames, and we felt that could be a liability in Iowa’s 4th District as Ames is one of its few Democratic strongholds.

We also liked Jacobsen and her strong advocacy for rural community development. And that’s important. After all, rural communities make up most of the 4th District.

But we felt Scholten is the Democrats’ best hope for beating King.

King has been in Washington too long and accomplished too little. It’s time for voters in Iowa’s 4th District to do what’s right and make a change, and we believe that could begin with Scholten on Tuesday.