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Ames Tribune: Democrats take center stage in Boone Co. Democrats event

As they embark on two of the more contentious 2020 races in the state of Iowa, Democratic challenger for the 4th Congressional District seat J.D. Scholten and three Democratic candidates bidding for Sen. Joni Ernst’s Senate seat detailed their visions to a a group of roughly 80 Boone County Democrats at the Rob Woodard Dinner in Ogden on Saturday night.

While Scholten will have to wait to see who his opponent is after the June Republican primary, the three Democrats are seeking the nomination to run against Ernst: Des Moines real estate businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro and Indianola lawyer Kimberly Graham stated their cases on why they should secure the nomination at the June 2 primaries.

Scholten wants set focus on campaign, not opponents

With a campaign promise to “stand tall for all”, the 6-foot-6-inch Scholten’s goal in his second endeavor for the 4th Congressional District seat is a voter engagement of 70 percent.

“On election night, seven of the ten people there can say one of three things,” Scholten said. “One, that they had a conversation with me. Two, that they saw my RV with their own eyes. Three, they were invited to an event that was within a few miles of them.”

Scholten who announced on Aug. 3 that he would run again for the seat in 2020, plans to navigate his R.V. named “Sioux City Sue” through the 39 counties of the predominately rural district, and engaging with voters about healthcare, agriculture and getting corporate money out of politics.

If he reaches that goal, he believes that he can balance the estimated plus-11 Republican voter advantage in the 4th District to his favor.

“If I can do that, we can take this district that has 70,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, and the only way we can win is getting out to the people and talking to them on a one-on-one basis,” Scholten said.

In 2018, Scholten almost unseated incumbent Rep. Steve King, but a rematch with King isn’t a guarantee, as three Republicans are challenging King in next summer’s primary.

King’s challengers, Sen. Randy Feenstra, Jeremy Taylor and Bret Richards would need to beat him outright. If none of the four Republicans reaches the 35 percent threshold necessary to win the primary, the race will be decided at a nominating convention.

However, Scholten told the Tribune that his focus isn’t on the Republican incumbent or his three primary challengers, but instead is continuing to build on the momentum from his 2018 campaign.

“What we’re doing is, pitching to our strengths,” Scholten said. “I don’t care who the other team is, our town halls are not going to be centered around King but around what we stand for.”

Greenfield looks to use “scrap” against “squeal.”

A self-proclaimed “scrappy farm kid,” Theresa Greenfield expects a battle against incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst, if she wins the Democratic nomination on June 2. In her efforts to unseat Ernst, Greenfield said feels the senator has broken her promises to hold Washington D.C. accountable.

“You guys remember Sen. Ernst right? She said she would be different, and she’d be an independent voice for Iowans — and we know she’s been nothing like that,” Greenfield said. “She said she was going to make ’em squeal in Washington, and I’ll tell you that no one is squealing in Washington and the swamp is getting much wider and deeper, filled with her cronies and special interest groups.”

The Des Moines businesswoman said the fight for the Senate seat will be won or lost on healthcare, and its wide-ranging impact on Iowans.

“Everywhere I go, it is often the number one topic people bring up, and it costs too much,” Greenfield said. “Whether it’s the premiums, your deductibles, your out of pocket expenses, everybody, rural and urban, are struggling with healthcare.”

Greenfield said she also wants to increase rural accessibility to hospitals and medical facilities.

Additionally, Greenfield attributes her motivation for her Senate campaign to her opposition to Ernst’s openness to privatizing Social Security and healthcare, in what she calls an “assault on hard-working families.”

“Joni Ernst talks about privatizing Social Security, cutting Medicaid, and my promise to you is that I will work everyday to sustain Social Security,” Greenfield said.

Greenfield was a 2018 Democratic candidate for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House, but was disqualified because her campaign manager falsified voters’ signatures on the petition that put her on the ballot.

Graham looks to shift balance of power in Senate bid

With a background of defending Iowa’s indigent and disadvantaged in the legal arena, Kimberly Graham hopes to do the same if she receives the Democratic nomination for the Senate. In order to accomplish that goal, Graham argues the need for a “brand-new Congress.”

“My plan has two parts, and part one of my plan is repeal and replace Joni Ernst,” Graham said. “Part two is to become the best senator in Iowa that money can’t buy.”

Graham said she refuses to accept campaign money from PAC’s or corporate donors.

Her message centered around rural Iowans, and at the top of the list is the increase in farm bankruptcies affecting rural farmers.

According to the Iowa Farm Bureau, only four farms declared Chapter 12 bankruptcy in 2013. In 2017, the total number of Chapter 12 bankruptcies climbed to 18 — the highest total since 2001.

“Farming should not be a non-profit enterprise, but it is for far too many farmers,” Graham said. “They’re taking the hits on both inputs and outputs by conglomerates who are controlling the seed, the fertilizer, and the market prices.”

Mauro: Iowans deserve better

According to Senate candidate Eddie Mauro, there’s two things he knows about his fellow Iowans: they believe in hard work and fair play.

“When we’re looking around the state today, we are sensing that there’s something that is fundamentally going on that is unfair all around us,” said Mauro, who previously ventured on an unsuccessful congressional campaign in Iowa’s 3rd District in 2018. “You see when the cost of healthcare is soaring and our prescription drugs are so expensive … it feels unfair and we deserve better.”

Mauro said the feeling of unfairness is also prevalent in the state’s education, daycare and housing, — all areas he seeks to address if given the nomination. At the heart of it, Mauro feels, is Ernst who is on the wrong side of those issues.

“Didn’t we sent someone to (Washington D.C.) to keep an eye on all of this? Her name is Joni Ernst and she’s been on the wrong side of all of these issues,” Mauro said. “Joni Ernst served in the military and I honor and respect that. But being a U.S. Senator requires a different kind of service and a different kind of courage. The kind of courage to stand up to your party when they are wrong.”

On Monday, Mike Franken, a Sioux City Democrat and retired three-star admiral, became the fourth candidate to enter the primary race to unseat Ernst.

By Robbie Sequeira, Staff Writer rsequeira@amestrib.com
Posted Aug 26, 2019 at 12:01 AM