All posts by Lauren McIlvaine


This pandemic is changing the way we do nearly everything.  Political campaigns have had to adjust too.

J.D. Scholten is embracing social distancing in his campaign, holding a rally that resembled a drive-in movie.

The clapping and cheers of political allies were replaced by the honking of horns.  Scholten’s stump speech was broadcasted over FM radio.

Michael Roddy, who attended the rally, said he’s a bit skeptical about this drive-in campaign.

“I’m not sure how successful it’s going to be. I think it’s very hard to communicate in this kind of a situation and I hope it will work,” said Roddy.

He’s not sure sitting in one’s car will create an electrified audience the way a rally can.

“I like rallies where the people get up and talk and you can yell and holler and cheer and I miss that,” he said.

The former minor league player turned candidate J.D. Scholten told KIMT News 3 where his inspiration for a drive-in event came from.

“I got the idea from going to church and my local church went to a parking lot ceremony and so I got the idea and if they can do that I wonder if we can do this? You know, we’ve been getting good reception everywhere we’ve been going,” said Scholten.

Supporter Carol Iverson is just fine sitting in the comfort of her car to support the man she wants to represent her in Washington D.C.

“We’re fine with it. We’re J.D. supporters from two years ago and, you know, whatever it takes to support him.”

Folks at the rally were able to send their questions to J.D. by texting a campaign phone number.

Globe Gazette: Car rally earns candidate J.D. Scholten honks of approval

Democratic congressional candidate J.D. Scholten speaks from the back of a truck at a campaign event in the parking lot of the North Iowa Events Center in Mason City on Thursday evening.

Typically when a candidate is giving a speech they have applause lines. They’ll finish a sentence, one that’s been honed for awhile, and then wait for the audience to clap and cheer.

Thursday night, J.D. Scholten settled for honks.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District had to get creative and hold a campaign event in a parking lot of Mason City’s North Iowa Events Center. For nearly 30 minutes, Scholten spoke through a PA system, from the flatbed of a Ford F-150, to at least 30 cars worth of people about the myriad issues currently plaguing not just the area but the state and the country as well.

To organize the speech, the former pitcher and paralegal offered up the five principles of his campaign: putting Iowa over Congress, showing up for each and every county in the district, trying to fix healthcare, working for a more equitable economy and bolstering democracy. 

On the first point, Scholten said that one of the things he was proudest of when he ran against outgoing Congressman Steve King, R-Kiron, in 2018 was that his campaign garnered 25,000 more votes than there were registered Democrats in the district which means that there was meaningful crossover in that election. 

As for showing up, Scholten pointed out that in that 2018 cycle he went to every county at least three times. “This is about showing up … It’s about listening,” he said.

The final three points that Scholten hit are a common refrain at his events in 2020. 

Though Scholten is in favor of universal healthcare he acknowledged that an important next step is an expanded public option, which would allow middle-income and working-age Americans to choose a public insurance plan (such as Medicare or Medicaid) instead of a private insurance plan.

Cars line up in the North Iowa Events Center in Mason City on Thursday evening to hear Democratic congressional candidate J.D. Scholten speak.

“(We) must make sure rural hospitals are taken care of … (we must) make sure that prescription drug prices are reasonable,” Scholten said.

On the economic front, Scholten told the crowd that one reason the system looks the way it does for so many Americans is that there aren’t nearly enough working class politicians in D.C. The policies being written don’t reflect realities. “People are struggling to do everything and get ahead,” is how Scholten phrased it. 

To “secure” democracy, Scholten said its crucial to make it harder for politicians to become lobbyists once they’re out of office. On top of that, he also suggested corporate PAC shouldn’t have any place in campaigns.

In July, Scholten declined to take money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because, as he said in a statement, “We won’t be beholden to special interests or the DCCC; instead, we’re reaching out to folks across the political spectrum to earn votes.” When he reflected on that decision at the parking lot event, Scholten added that a campaign should be run out of the district and not out of Washington. 

Scholten will need funding as the race heads down the homestretch. 

Based on available polling data, which is limited, Scholten trails Republican challenger and State Sen. Randy Feenstra. 

Storm Lake Radio: JD Scholten Campaigns in Storm Lake

4th District Congressional candidate J.D. Scholten held a parking lot campaign rally at Frank Starr Park in Storm Lake this (Thur) evening.

Scholten, a Democrat, said his biggest goal in Congress would be to fight to enforce anti-trust laws.

“The USDA says that only one in 30 dairy farmers are still going to be in existence by 2036, and that’s all policy-driven out of D.C.  All farms matter, whether big or small.  We have to find a way to keep people on their land and make a dime.”

Scholten stressed protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions, and expanding social security and medicare. He said accessibility to prescription drugs is shrinking in the 4th district, and costs are going up.

Scholten said another goal is to fight for an economy that works for everybody.

“What we’ve seen with career-politicians in the past few decades is they’ve sold out the American worker, farmer, and consumer.  That’s never been more clear than what’s happened in the pandemic, when CEO’s and billionaires continue to have record profits while the majority of Americans are suffering.  If we continue to elect politicians who accept the status quo and don’t want reform, we can’t expect change.” 

Scholten said a program is needed to help relieve student loan debt.

After being asked about possible voter suppression, Scholten encouraged residents to have a plan, vote early, and those that want to vote by absentee ballot should put in their request soon, and to submit ballots right away.

Scholten will face Republican Randy Feenstra in the November 3rd general election.

Sioux City Journal: ‘J.D. Scholten has my vote’

Randy Feenstra has been my Iowa state senator since 2009. During this time, I wrote him three letters. He did not respond to any of the three, not even with a form letter. Sen. Feenstra is now running for Congress in Iowa’s 4th District. If Sen. Feenstra does not take the time to respond to his constituents in less than three counties, how can we expect him to respond to his constituents in the 39 counties of Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District?

J.D. Scholten has lots of good ideas and is a good listener. He cares about small towns as well as cities and made a tour of towns with under 1,000 people. When Scholten ran for Congress in 2018, he visited each of the 39 counties at least three times.

I want a congressional representative who is hard working and will listen to me. J.D. Scholten has my vote. Ruth Kocisko, Sioux Center, Iowa

NW Iowa Review: J.D. Scholten makes Sioux Center stop

J.D. Scholten didn’t speak much about his professional baseball career Thursday, Aug. 20, in Sioux Center, but his five campaign promises were printed on baseball cards for the audience to keep.

Those campaign promises were the focus of the remarks by the 40-year-old Democratic candidates for Iowa’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representative.

He spoke from the back of a pickup truck at the Sioux County fairgrounds parking lot while people in about 20 vehicles tuned into his message broadcast on the radio. He held a similar event on Wednesday in Sibley.

Scholten narrowly lost to longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King in 2018. On Nov. 3, however, he will go up against state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who unseated King in the June Republican primaries.

Scholten’s first promise was to put the interest of Iowans over the interest of politics.

Instead of political ideology, he said a message that connects to people has the power to earn votes. That led to his next promise, which was simply that he will show up for people in the 4th District.

At the Sioux Center event, Scholten noted how in the fall, he conducted a “Don’t Forget About Us” tour in which he visited the district’s communities with fewer than 1,000 people.

“We’re willing to show up and we will continue to show up because this job is about service,” Scholten said. “It’s about giving back.”

His next three promises were to fix health care, fight for an economy that works for everybody and secure the country’s democracy.

When talking about health care, Scholten brought up the story of an attorney who mentored him while Scholten worked as a paralegal. The attorney recently was diagnosed with cancer but was told by his insurance company his doctor was no longer within its network.

“When he’s fighting for his life, he has to go find another doctor and that’s just wrong,” Scholten said.

He also said health care also was the No. 1 issue he spoke to people during his small-town tour last fall.

In Hardin County, a woman had told Scholten how she could not afford an inhaler prescription which would cost $244 a month. Even when her doctor gave her a cheaper one with fewer doses, she still could not pay for it. Her doctor eventually told her to go to Canada to buy an inhaler.

“If that’s the best we are as a nation, we can do way better,” Scholten said.

When speaking about fighting for an economy that works for everyone, Scholten said career politicians have sold out people such as farmers, teachers and everyday consumers with policies that do not adequately value their work.

In agriculture specifically, he spoke about how concentration of large dairy, pork and cattle companies have hurt small farming operations. He also mentioned how President Donald Trump’s small-refinery exemptions to oil refineries have hurt corn producers.

“They’re picking sides and it’s big oil conglomerates over the American farmer, over our Midwest corn growers,” Scholten said. “One thing we’re pushing for is not only making sure that the renewable fuel standard is met at that 15 billion gallons of ethanol per year in our fuel supply but we’re pushing for a low-carbon fuel standard.”

His final promise about securing democracy focused on how special-interest groups and their lobbyists in Washington, D.C., dictate policy by giving money to lawmakers through political action committees. Unlike those lawmakers, Scholten said his campaign does not accept corporate money or support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“We wanted to run out of Sioux City, Iowa. We wanted to be held accountable by the people of this district, rather than the folks out in D.C.,” Scholten said.

He later took questions from attendees after they texted them to his campaign staff. One question was how Scholten would protect Social Security and Medicare.

Scholten said he supports a policy proposal called “scrap the cap,” which would require people to pay into Social Security past the $137,700 income limit. Regarding Medicare, he supports expanding the program and lowering the age limit so people can access it by age 50.

He also was asked how he would get large companies such as Amazon to set up locations in places such as N’West Iowa. He reframed the issue to instead say he would push for tax cuts to small businesses that already exist in such places.

“What we need to do is give tax breaks to the small businesses, the innovation, to help create local economies,” he said.

“When you spend money at Dollar General, it doesn’t always stay here. It goes to headquarters, it goes to Wall Street. What we need is to strengthen our Main Streets and we need an economy and a tax system that benefits that.”

Written by Randy Paulson

KTIV: Scholten hosts a “drive-in” campaign event

Congressional candidate JD Scholten, like so many other politicians, has had to adjust his campaign operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wednesday, the Democrat spoke to supporters during a “drive-in” campaign stop in Sioux City.

Supporters could pull up to North High School, stay in their cars, and tune to a specific radio frequency to hear Scholten speak just a few feet away.
This method allows him to travel to all 39 counties in the 4th Congressional District, and allow voters to safely hear his message.
He also acknowledges — during the pandemic — reaching voters can be difficult.

But, he says, it’s not impossible.

“I want to meet with everybody. I want to be accessible. We are open to everybody. Everyday we talk about it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, or brown. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, Independent, Republican or never voted before. We’re going to go out there and try and earn your vote.” said J.D. Scholten, 4th District Congressional Candidate

Scholten also took time to answer questions texted to him, and to hand out campaign baseball cards containing his five campaign promises,.
They include fixing healthcare, and fighting for an economy that works for everyone.
Scholten will face Republican candidate Randy Feenstra in the November general election.

KCAU: J.D. Scholten holds parking lot rally

Political candidates have had to get creative in order to campaign during the pandemic.

That leads one Siouxland hopeful to climb in the back of a pickup tonight.

Congressional candidate J.D. Scholten launching a tour of Iowa’s 4th District with a parking lot rally in Sioux City.

Two years ago during a traditional campaign season, the Democrat lost a close race to incumbent Steve King.

This time around, he’s facing republican Randy Feenstra and the campaign trail looks a bit different.

Scholten says he plans to visit all 375 incorporated towns in Iowa’s 4th District, talking with folks about the issues for the first time in months.

KMEG: J.D. Scholten launches “Every Town Tour”

Sioux City’s North High School parking lot hosted a rally in support of the democrat running for the 4th congressional district in Iowa.

J.D. Scholten’s “Every Town Tour” brought local supporters to this socially-distanced event.

Attendees could listen in, from the comfort of their vehicles, by tuning in to 89.9 FM.

The tour will eventually cover 375 towns in Iowa’s 4th district, giving Scholten a chance to meet his supporters.

“We’re trying to get out the best we can. That’s the tough part. I want to meet everybody. I want to be accessible. We are open to every day. Every day we talk about, doesn’t matter if you’re white, black or brown, doesn’t matter if you’re democrat, independent, republican or never voted before. We’re going to try and earn your vote,” Scholten said.

Scholten will be hosting more parking lot rallies in Woodbury, Plymouth, Ida and Cherokee counties this weekend in an effort to connect with as many people as possible.

Radio Iowa: Scholten holding ‘parking lot’ rallies in Iowa’s 4th district

The Democratic candidate for Iowa’s 4th district congressional seat has a new twist on campaigning during the Covid era. J.D. Scholten has equipped his “Sioux City Sue” RV with special equipment so he can hold parking lot rallies.

“I know a lot of churches have gone this way,” Scholten says. “We’re going to have a site where people can go and drive to and if they just want to stay in their car and tune in on the local frequency that we’ll be broadcasting, they can do that. Otherwise they can come out of their cars and just make sure that they’re socially distant.”

The RV will have speakers, so those who stand outside the R-V will be able to hear, along with those tuned-in and sitting in their vehicles. Scholten is planning to visit all 375 towns in the district before Election Day.

“We are taking extra precautions,” Scholten says. “Wear a mask. We’ll have a lot of hand sanitizers and things like that.”

This is Scholten’s second run in the district. In 2018, he narrowly lost to Republican Congressman Steve King. In 2020, he faces Republican Randy Feenstra, who defeated King in the June 2nd GOP Primary. A recent poll suggests Feenstra has a comfortable lead in the district, which has a significant Republican voter registration edge.

“The last time and again this time, we say all the time that it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black or brown, it doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat, independent Republican or never voted before — we’re going to go out there and earn your vote,” Scholten says, “and that continues to be our strategy.”

On Tuesday evening, Scholten’s holding a parking lot rally at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars. On Wednesday evening, he’ll speak from the Sioux City North High School Parking lot.

The Hill: J.D. Scholten says he doesn’t need DCCC to win Iowa seat

Iowa congressional candidate J.D. Scholten told Hill.TV that he doesn’t need help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to win a long-held GOP seat in Iowa, arguing his message of progressive populism will be enough to secure victory in November.

Scholten is making another run at the House seat for the 4th Congressional District after coming within 4 percentage points of Rep. Steve King (R) during the midterms in a district President Trump won by nearly 30 points in 2016.

Scholten will face Randy Feenstra, who defeated King in June during the GOP primary.

He told Hill.TV he declined help from the DCCC — the House Democrats’ campaign arm — because he felt it would impose limitations on his campaign.

“I want this race to be run out of Sioux City and not DC,” Scholten said. “And ultimately, I’m not running to win their approval. I’m running to win this race.”

When reached for comment, DCCC spokesperson Cole Leiter said: “We have built a big battlefield and every candidate is going to make their own decisions about how to run their race. We wish him well.”

The Cook Political Report lists the seat as “likely Republican.”

Though the Democratic Party has long been unpopular in his district, Scholten said voters involved in regional agricultural businesses have been hurt by a lack of antitrust enforcement. He is hoping to capitalize on what he says is a long-present populist spirit in the district.

“My campaign right now is building this amazing coalition of consumers, of workers and of farmers, all that are being hurt by these monopolies,” Scholten said. “The farmers are being squeezed, both on the input and the market side. The workers are being suppressed. They’re getting the same wages that they did when my family moved to Sioux City in 1984. And you have these consumers that are paying more for meat than they ever have been. And so that money isn’t going to any of them. It’s going to profits and to Wall Street.”