Last time, it was the Don’t Forget About Us Tour. This time, it’s the Every Town Tour. Either way, congressional candidate J.D. Scholten of Sioux City says he’s still prioritizing conversations and building relationships during his second run at a seat in the U.S. House. Scholten’s tour of 374 towns in Iowa’s 4th District was drawing to a close as he held a parking lot rally outside the Spirit Lake Expo Center the night of Sept. 30.
Scholten’s first congressional race pitted him against then-incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve King during the 2018 election cycle. Though he lost to King, his campaign earned 25,000 more votes than the total number of registered Democrats in the district. Scholten will take on state Sen. Randy Feenstra of Hull in the November general election — Feenstra beat King in the Republican Primary this past June.
Scholten said he takes pride in visiting rural communities and hearing the public’s stories as well as their concerns.
“This district is so different in different places, so we’ve got to make sure we have someone who shows up and is willing to listen and willing fight for all the people of this district,” Scholten said.
And he feels his renewed campaign for the House has continued building on the rapport he struck with voters during the previous election cycle.
“When we do this 374 town tour, it’s not like we’re only talking to Democrats,” Scholten said. “We’re talking to people all over the political spectrum. Especially when it comes to agriculture and us being the second most agriculture-producing district in America — I’ve talked with farmers who will never vote for me and farmers who will always vote for me and everybody in between — and when I talk about antitrust and agriculture right now, all of them, regardless of where they are politically, are on board with what we have to say.”
Scholten told the 60 or so vehicles gathered in Spirit Lake local agriculture is one of the areas which most highlights the shortcomings of the current economy when contrasted with corporate farming companies. He said the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have consumers paying the most we ever have for meat,” Scholten said from the bed of a red pickup truck. “We have workers in Sioux City at the processing plant getting the same wage as when my family moved from Nevada (Iowa) to Sioux City in 1984. Meanwhile, we have farmers getting squeezed, and so our campaign is going out there and connecting with people and building this coalition of consumers, workers and farmers, and we’re working on just leveling the playing field.”
Scholten also sees the need for campaign finance reform. His campaign has touted its refusal to accept funding from political action committees, saying politicians often accommodate the requests of the special interest groups which helped finance their political careers.
“It’s really frustrating when you see so many people pushing for something, but it’s not happening out in D.C., and it’s because of campaign finances,” Scholten said. “We see so many members of Congress who are taking money from these monopolies, from these groups, from these people who are sucking the wealth out of rural areas, and these career politicians are selling us out.”
The former baseball player held up one of his campaign’s trading cards for the Spirit Lake audience, and he pointed to his primary campaign promise — Iowans over political party.
“We invite everyone to the table,” Scholten said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat, Independent, Republican or have never voted before. We invite you here. We only have one rule, and it’s that we respect each other, because at the end of the day, we’re all Iowans.”