All posts by Mitch Kerr

Statement to Steve King: White Nationalism is Not a Christian Value

As Christians and allies of our Jewish and Black communities, we have spent the past week in mourning, grieving the deaths of 11 members of the Tree of Life Synagogue and 2 Black Americans in Kentucky. Their killers were motivated by the violent ideology of white nationalism. We have spent the week at vigils and in prayer making commitments to one another to honor the memory of the dead by standing up to white nationalist hate.

On Thursday a constituent asked Rep. Steve King if he was a white supremacist. King should have had a simple answer: no. But King couldn’t deny it. Instead, King refused to answer and demanded that the questioner be removed. That’s because, for years, King has been the most prominent public figure explicitly promoting and trying to normalize the violent ideology of white nationalism.

When challenged about his views, King’s defends himself by saying he is acting on his Christian values. As a faith community, we are sick and tired of King cynically using our shared Christian faith as a justification for his racist, white nationalist, and anti-semitic words and actions.

We want to speak clearly to our fellow Christian Steve King, to those who remain standing with him, and to all Christians in Iowa and across the country:

White nationalism is not a Christian value.


Rev. Jen Hibben
Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation
Ames, IA
Rev. Dr. Jill Sander
Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation
Ames, IA
Father John Herzog
St. Thomas Aquinas
Ames, IA
Father Eugene C. Kutsch
Retired Catholic Priest
Dubuque, IA
Rev. Anna Blaedel
Wesley Center at the University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
Rev. Sam Massey
First Presbyterian Church
Iowa City, IA
Rev. David Halaas
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sioux City, IA

Tribune endorsement: Scholten will restore dignity to Iowa’s 4th District

In the past, when we have endorsed a candidate over Steve King in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, it was often an anti-King vote with lukewarm support for his Democratic opponent.

Our endorsement this year is also a vote against King, a controversial and ineffective Congressman, but it’s also a vote to support who we believe is a strong candidate who will work for what’s best for the people of Iowa, not only just in the 4th District, but statewide, and for the country.

J.D. Scholten was correct when he said King’s antics have given Iowa a “black eye.” We’ll go one step further and say King is a gut-punch to everything we as Iowans believe in and stand for.

We all know about King’s derogatory comments and tweets about immigrants who come to this country (and Iowa) to build better lives for themselves and their families. We are all aware of his recent controversies, including talking to an Austrian website with white nationalist ties, and his meltdown at a forum sponsored by the Des Moines Partnership (why is King spending time in Des Moines which isn’t in his district?) where he became so enraged when an Iowa State University student who attended the forum asked him about his comments about immigrants. The student asked him to distinguish between his comments and those made by the man accused in the shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. King at one point became so angry his voice cracked with rage when he told the young man to stop and later had him removed from the event.

The incident was reminiscent of the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in which his reaction and anger prompted many to ask whether he had the temperament to serve as a Supreme Court justice. We should ask the same question about King. A sitting Congressman should have the ability to keep his cool.

Also, let’s not forget King has been ineffective in his role as a representative for Iowa, getting headlines for his controversial statements rather than for any meaningful legislation he’s been involved in or introduced.

In contrast, Scholten, unlike many who have come before him, has shown the tenacity and talent needed to win. A recent poll showed he had pulled within 1 percentage point of King in a district in which Republicans outnumber Democrats.

Scholten and his now-famous RV, Sioux City Sue, have traversed all 39 counties in the district. He has taken the time to meet face to face, individually and in groups, both small and large, with voters, talking about issues that matter and taking the time to listen to what’s on their minds.

Scholten’s stances on health care, business growth and development in rural communities, and education show he is in tune with voters in his district. His nearly non-stop travels since he announced his candidacy show he has the spirit, drive and commitment to do the job and to serve Iowans well in Washington.

Scholten will be a breath of fresh air in the 4th District and will do much to restore the tarnished reputation it and the state have received with King in Congress.

For all of those reasons, we endorse J.D. Scholten for Congress in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.

Full article:

The Hill – Steve King: Members of Nazi-linked party in Austria ‘would be Republicans’ if they were in US

GOP Rep. Steve King (Iowa) on Saturday defended his association with a Nazi-linked group in Austria, telling The Washington Post that the group is “far right.”

He made the comments about Austria’s Freedom Party, a group founded by a former Nazi SS officer and whose current leader was active in neo-Nazi circles, according to the paper.

“If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans,” King, who is known for his inflammatory statements about immigration, told the Post.

King made comments lamenting the “decline” of Western civilization due to immigration in an August interview with Austria’s Freedom Party, according to the Post, asking: “What does this diversity bring that we don’t already have?”

His comments to the Post came after 11 worshippers were killed in a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, in what is the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

King told the Post that he is not anti-Semitic and touted his support for Israel.

The Iowa Republican, who is running for his ninth term, has repeatedly come under criticism for his comments about immigration and diversity.

“Diversity is not our strength,” King tweeted last year. “Assimilation has become a dirty word to the multiculturalist Left.”

Earlier this month, King tweeted support for a Toronto mayoral candidate who was fired by an “alt-right” media outlet after appearing on a podcast for the Daily Stormer, a prominent neo-Nazi website. He has also expressed support for far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

And last year, King tweeted that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

King is expected to easily win reelection against Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten, though Scholten has out-fundraised King over the last two years.

The Hill has reached out to the King campaign for comment.

Full article:

LETTER: Support Scholten for Congress

Here’s why I believe that J.D. Scholten should be our next 4th District U.S. House representative.

1. He has youth, fresh energy, intelligence and passion to represent all of us in Iowa and America.

2. He is a kind and caring person who will listen and speak for us.

3. He speaks from the heart.

4. He has worked hard to travel the 39 counties in the 4th District three times to get to know us and our needs.

5. At his town hall in Sioux City last Thursday night he said that if elected he would travel Iowa’s 39 counties every year to inform us and to listen to our views.

6. He is an honest young man who will work hard with all parties in D.C. to find solutions.

I have known J.D. Scholten for over 20 years and I know firsthand that he will be an excellent congressman who will make Iowa proud and America proud. I hope you join me in voting for him. – Jean Carlson, Sioux City

Full letter:

Pigeon Poop On A Pump Handle

There are a lot of people in my Congressional district, represented by Steve
King, that have wanted to vote him out of office for some time. The district
is so heavily weighted partisan Republican, however, that King could
embarrass us with his toxic ideology and still be re-elected.
The district was considered safe for Republicans so the Democrats never
fielded a strong candidate or provided the resources necessary to challenge
King. King was a pathetically poor constituent type representative even
getting away with supporting ethanol nemesis Ted Cruz for president and
getting re-elected. Cruz, running his own tight race reportedly called King
to give him his support.
His own party doesn’t like King, rebuking him for recent racist/white
supremist statements. Former House Speaker John Boehner, whose best friend
was our previous Congressman Tom Latham, called King an “asshole.” There are
a lot of voters here in this district who vote for King as their way of
giving their middle finger to Washington. There may be some emotional release
from that but it doesn’t get you anywhere there. King is treated as a leper
in Washington with no ability to serve effectively in a constituent manner.
Therefore, he spends his time on the culture war cable networks knowing his
conservative base would vote for him anyway even if he announced his support
for Satan.
The neo-Nazi group he supported in Europe was founded by an SS officer so
that is not far removed. He said the group would be Republicans if here in
America. The RNC took issue with that. They are trying to save control of the
House for Republicans yet have ostracized King’s views as being too extreme
to be included in their party. King uses the office he holds as a platform to
dispense his ugly ideology. He has refused to hold town halls fearing
protestors. That means he only talks to his close supporters and is shut off
from the views of many Iowans in his district. Grassley, Ernst and other
representatives all hold town halls and defend their views and actions. King
can’t do that, so he hides. When he is challenged he gets furious, becoming
unhinged at a forum last week where you could see his anger explode as he
declared the meeting was over when asked a question he didn’t like.
Some here in our district are starting to think the unthinkable that King has
finally soiled in his nest so badly that evangelicals might not come out for
him. He has a very good challenger in JD Scholten. JDS is a very good fit for
this district. I briefed him on Ag issues and he answered two of my questions
on other topics how I wanted him to. He told me that he would not vote to ban
any guns and would not vote for Pelosi for House Speaker. He would be the
constituent service kind of Congressional representative that we sorely need.
Agriculture has many issues we need help with and King is worthless as pigeon
poop on a pump handle. King is frustrated because his campaign funding has
dried up. Companies such as Purina, Intel, and Land-o-Lakes cannot be
associated with a racist/white supremacist so are pulling their funding from
him. Maybe the KKK will fund his campaign?
By contrast, contributions have flooded into the JDS campaign and they have
momentum. This has created a situation where it is no longer unthinkable that
King could get voted out of office. That is what he deserves. He has deserved
it for a long time but he was insulated by jerrymandering so was not held
accountable. He has refused to debate Scholten. That is okay. I told JDS
that why would he want to get on a stage and let King pretend to be something
he is not.
Scholten has run a good campaign and in driving to Des Moines and back last
week I have never seen so many yard signs for the Democratic Congressional
candidate before. King has typically won his races by a wide margin and if he
wins by one vote he still wins. This is the best shot this district has had
to cut out this infection because if racist ideology is left in office its
power grows. The racists have left me a threatening message before warning
me, “Don’t you know where you live!” We will find out next Tuesday if it is a
district anyone can respect.

Full letter:

Sometimes a particular candidate stands out as a person of integrity

Today I want to encourage all the people of Sioux Center to cast their vote on November 6 for J.D.
Scholten. Perhaps that is difficult for some to think about in light of the fact that Mr. Scholten is a
Democrat, but I want to offer a different perspective for you. Politics is not a team sport–if a
Republican candidate doesn't live up to what you expect of your leaders it is not a betrayal of your party
to cast your vote for a Democrat–the same is true for Democrats. Sometimes a particular candidate
stands out as a person of integrity and class and I would not be encouraging you to step out of your
comfort zone and vote a different party in this election if I didn't believe Mr. Scholten to be that kind of
candidate. This could be a once in a lifetime event for you–to cast your vote for a Democrat– but it is a
time that is crucial. J.D. Scholten's Republican opponent is Rep. Steve King and it is time for us to make
clear to Mr. King in no uncertain terms that we are finished with his style of politics. Rep. King has not
earned your loyalty.
Mr. Steve King has represented us in Congress since 2003. Mr. King's character is easy to see in the
words that he uses–a quick search of his quotes provides a lot of evidence of how he views anyone
different from him and a quick glance at his Facebook profile provides evidence of how he treats people.
Please look up his Facebook page and ask yourself if this is who you want to represent you. His juvenile
use of gifs and memes to attack people or respond to people who challenge him in any way smacks of
middle school–whether Mr. King actually runs his page or not, he is allowing, and even celebrating this
public image of himself. Of course there are people who speak horribly to him on his page as well, but
as a public figure is he not called to take the higher road in these circumstances? Is that not what we ask
of our politicians and leaders–to be the mature one? Perhaps you believe Mr. Steve King is "standing
up" to liberals by mocking them or purposefully antagonizing them. I ask you to consider the people in
history who actually stood up for something–Ghandi, MLK, Jesus Christ–how did they "stand up?" With
mockery? With dehumanizing their opposition? I was struck by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that
I read in Phillip Yancy's book Soul Survivor and which he credits to Dr. King's The Call of Service.
According to Yancy, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave this speech to the volunteers in the civil rights
movement who were growing tired of standing up for what was right and were feeling tempted to use
on their opponents the same tactics those opponents used. Dr. King said:
"A big danger for us is the temptation to follow the people we are opposing. They call us names, so we call
them names. Our names may not be "redneck" or "cracker"; they may be names that have a sociological or
psychological veneer to them, a gloss; but they are names, nonetheless–"ignorant," or "brainwashed," or
"duped" or "hysterical" or "poor white" or "consumed by hate." I know you will all give me plenty of evidence in
support of those categories. But I urge you to think of them as that–as categories; and I remind you that in
many people, in many people called segregationists, there are other things going on in their lives: this person
or that person, standing here or there may also be other things–kind to neighbors and family, helpful and good-
spirited at work.
You all know, I think, what I am trying to say–that we must try not to end up with stereotypes of those we
oppose, even as they slip all of us into their stereotypes. And who are we? Let us not do to ourselves as others
(as our opponents) do to us; try to put ourselves into one all inclusive category–the virtuous ones as against
the evil ones, or the decent ones as against the malicious, prejudiced ones, or the well-educated as against the
ignorant. You can see that I can go on and on–and there is the danger; the "us" or "them" mentality takes
hold, and we do, actually begin to run the risk of joining ranks with the very people we are opposing."

I, too, long to be wise like Martin Luther King, Jr and I hope for a candidate that refuses to categorize
people, a candidate who sees the value of all human beings whether they agree with him or not. And I
will avoid categorizing our current representative–Steve King has skills to use, but it is time for him to
use those skills again as a local businessman and not as a representative of our area. So even if you are
a Republican, it is time to look for more in a candidate. I ask you to spend a little time on Mr. Scholten's
website,, as his character is readily apparent in the way he communicates his
policies. In his own words from the website, Mr. Scholten is "an Iowan, a community member and
teammate with a strong work ethic and integrity." His goals in "standing tall for all" include but are not
limited to: putting our local communities and farmers ahead of special interest groups, improving
mental health care in the state of Iowa, "support of the 2nd Amendment and the rights of law-abiding
Iowans to bear arms", and reducing abortions by "fighting for solutions that include: ensuring women
have access to contraception and health care, teaching age-appropriate sex education in schools, and
insisting on paid family leave, expanding adoption and foster care and better child care policies to make it
easier for new parents to care for newborns." That is just a short list of how Mr. Scholten hopes to
represent Iowans in Congress. It is time to vote across party lines to elect a representative who better
represents the kind of people we are and the values we have–respecting others, caring about our
communities, working hard, and loving our neighbors. So please vote for J.D. Scholten on November 6.

Letter: Vote for J.D. Scholten

My family immigrated from Europe over 250 years ago. It is truly American and very diverse. I grew up on an Indiana farm, but had family come to Indiana from Virginia in the 1880’s.

They fought on both sides of the Civil War. My husband grew up in Virginia. Yet we would never fly or show the battle flag of the Confederate States of America, because it has been repurposed to symbolize division. An ugly, narrow minded minority of our great country uses it to represent repressing other Americans, and new immigrants. It now means the country should be divided by the color of a person’s skin. The representative of the 4th district of Iowa displayed a confederate battle flag on his desk. Steve King must believe its current meaning to divide the country along racial lines, or he wouldn’t have displayed it.

J.D. Scholten will bring back what Iowa stood for, to give everyone, men and women, black, white, yellow or brown, a fair, equal chance. Plus, he is connected to Iowa farmland.

This was America. This was Iowa. This was Governor Ray. Now the world thinks Iowa is like its representative who has displayed a confederate flag.

Paraphrasing Taylor Swift, “Think about who you are, what are your values, then vote for the person who represents you.” If you identify with cruelty, repression and division, the current meaning of the confederate battle flag, vote for the current representative, if not vote for J.D. Scholten.

Full letter:

Vox – Iowa voters might have finally had it with Steve King’s Nazi pandering

Longtime Republican Rep. Steve King, who recently retweeted a Nazi and routinely makes white supremacist comments with aplomb, is suddenly looking like his reelection bid could be in trouble.

Just a week from Election Day, three big corporations, Intel, pet food company Purina and dairy company Land O’Lakes, announced they are pulling financial support from the Iowa Republican’s campaign, which is already low on cash. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the official campaign arm for House Republicans, condemned King’s comments and actions.

A new poll from Change Research also shows King’s Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten, a former baseball player and paralegal, polling within a single digit of King. To be clear, this is one poll; FiveThirtyEight still gives King about an 80 percent chance of winning reelection in a seat he has held for 15 years and won in 2016 with a resounding 61 percent of the votes.

On the other hand, this could a sign of larger trouble for King. Coming a few days after a mass shooting believed to be motivated by anti-Semitism that killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, King is taking heat for his racist rhetoric and support for politicians in Canada and Europe with ties to neo-Nazis. Local Jewish faith leaders and a separate group of more than 40 interfaith leaders within the district are penning two letters to the editor denouncing King’s run and calling on more donors to abandon him.

For his part, King is blaming “fake news” and “Establishment Never Trumpers” in a statement released Tuesday.

King’s district — the most conservative in Iowa — has always come home to him. But the Republican, who hasn’t put up a single campaign ad on TV this cycle, is suddenly at risk of being overshadowed by Scholten. The Democrat has been beating King in fundraising and is putting even more ads on air in the final week.

“What is interesting about the Fourth [Congressional] District is that Steve King doesn’t expect a challenge, and he doesn’t campaign very hard,” David Andersen, a political scientist at Iowa State University told Vox. “I have not seen Steve King’s message. He keeps a year round campaign staff that is his family. And I don’t know what they’re doing.”

Until recently, JD Scholten’s campaign seemed like a longshot. But while King has been acting like his seat isn’t competitive at all, Scholten has raised more than $1.4 million, put up ads, and is planning to campaign in every county in the district.

Scholten is bombarding voters with ads, but King seems to be channeling most of his energy into his Twitter feed. He has dwindling financial resources with which to make his case; King had just a little more than $176,000 cash on hand, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings.

Scholten is a first-time candidate who was jolted into politics by Trump’s 2016 election, but his eyes are squarely on King’s seat.

“When you’re a young(er) Midwesterner who admires Paul Wellstone and Tom Harkin, there’s not a greater political fight than defeating Steve King,” Scholten told Vox’s Jane Coaston in a March email interview. “His controversial statements are an embarrassment, and his ineffectiveness and votes to the detriment of the district are what fuel my passion in this pursuit.”

In such a conservative district, Scholten can’t win on Democratic votes alone, and he’s hoping to win over moderate Republicans and independents. He’s walking a fine line, supporting progressive policies like Medicare-for-all (he says he supports a public option first, but wants to work toward Medicare-for-all eventually) and supporting the Second Amendment.

King is explicitly anti-abortion, and while Scholten supports a woman’s right to chose, he is Catholic and supports expanding access to contraception, family planning, and adoption to reduce abortion rates. It’s a strategy embraced by special election breakout star Conor Lamb.

Even though King’s rhetoric hasn’t put him in electoral danger in the past, Scholten is banking the constituents of the Fourth Congressional District are sick of the racism.

“This is the best chance we’ve ever had to beat Steve King,” Scholten said. “People have finally grown tired of his divisiveness. A lot of moderate Republicans have told me they’re supporting me because they’re tired of him embarrassing them and giving their party a bad name. His rhetoric has grown stale at a time where people are paying attention more than ever.”

Full article:

J.D. Scholten offers a new road

When my neighbor told me he was worried about how his garden would fare while he was out of town I told him not to worry, I would take care of it. I said it without thinking, because no matter how long I spend in California, I will always be an Iowan. I was lucky to be raised somewhere acts of thoughtfulness and generosity are common. I could list dozens of instances when I didn’t ask for help but it was given to me without asking, and if your roots are in Iowa, my guess is so can you.

But it wasn’t just Iowa generally that taught me what I needed to know, it was northwest Iowa specifically. I grew up on the north side of Sioux City walking to M.G. Clark with a small group of tow-headed kids. I can drive the hilly stretches of C60 and River Road that take you to Cherokee where my father was raised by heart. People in California have no idea where this is. It’s annoying, but northwest Iowans don’t particularly care if someone knows where their hometown is.

I wasn’t taught to speak ill of people in public, but I have to say this, Rep. Steve King has raised the profile of my home region and hometown in ways I couldn’t have predicted. People I love are becoming known for virulent hatred and close-mindedness. Our values for hard work, honest dealing, and a willingness, always, to help our neighbor without being asked, are being replaced with something I don’t recognize. We are losing something important. Call it self-reliance that also embraces compassion, or call it basic Iowa decency. I fear we will soon lose it for a long, long time.

I remember the Farm Depression in the 80s, the drought and the foreclosures. Many years later, with so much fertile land, and so many hard working people, it can feel like northwest Iowa should not be struggling with sinking commodities prices, a stressful trade war, health care that keeps getting more expensive, and roads that have needed repair for far too long. Many voters made a rational choice in 2016 to test a theory that someone from the business world could right a ship that can feel like it is little by little, every year, getting more off course.

But I know you did not vote for this. You did not vote for a trade war that could hurt unestablished farmers, leading to more consolidation of land ownership. No one voted to neglect the roads necessary for every piece of the region’s economy. Northwest Iowa did not vote for two more years of Steve King spending time with extremist European leaders over spending time listening to District 4’s voters.

The people who raised me to care for my neighbors, the people who sent so many cards to my mother while she was being treated for cancer that the mailman brought them wrapped in a thick stack wrapped in a rubber band every day for months, the people who do the hard work, who do the country’s heavy lifting, did not vote for bigotry and violence.

I am writing this letter because J.D. Scholten offers a new road. It’s both a way back to what is remembered, and a way forward. He supports policies that will strengthen rural economies, put new foundations in infrastructure, and create better solutions for health care and education. I hope you’ll vote for him on November 6th.

Rev. Elizabeth E. Blair
Santa Rosa, CA


To 4th Congressional District voters –
It is tempting to list the many reasons Steve KKKing has worn out his tenure as our
representative. Even his own party and major donors have and are withdrawing their support. Let’s
focus on the reasons for endorsing J. D. Scholten.
J.D. Scholten is refreshingly open and honest. His travels throughout our 39 counties have been
open to all and reflect a willingness to listen to different parties and perspectives. His “scripts” are not
canned; he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers.
J.D. Scholten will be an enthusiastic hard-worker for the district. As a fifth-generation Iowan
with deep farm roots, he would offer important insights in agricultural committee assignments. His
career has provided him with understandings of foreign countries and could be beneficial regarding
international trade and tariff issues.
From his conversations with district business leaders, farmers, medical personnel, educators,
families and individuals, he knows the multiple concerns we have. Health care, good paying jobs, the
need for legal immigrant workers, and the sanctity of life are major issues about which he has spoken.
He doesn’t hide behind clichés. He will work with others to find solutions.
Finally, J. D. Scholten’s campaign has been positive rather than negative. He is motivated by
doing what is best rather than casting a dark shadow of fear. He promises to work in a bi-partisan way
rather than play the blame game. He will have the courage to bring sunshine and light to drain the
pollution of the swamp. J.D. will “stand tall for all.”