All posts by staff

Saturday Spotlight: Tracy Freese, Iowa State Senate Candidate (SD-25)

Can you tell us a little bit about your race? Initially, I was running to oust Senate Majority Leader, Bill Dix. Three weeks ago, Dix was caught kissing a lobbyist on camera and immediately resigned. Today, I find myself in a surprise special election on April 10th against Annette Sweeney. 

What sets you apart from your opponent? Our biggest difference appears to be animal cruelty laws. I support the protection of animals, Sweeney does not. She also believes gun laws should be unrestricted and I believe commonsense gun reform will keep firearms out of the wrong hands and will save innocent lives. 

Past or present, what political figure or figures do you look up to? I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Warren. She and I speak the same financial language. 

What inspired you to run for office? Kirsten Anderson. Kirsten was unjustly fired by Bill Dix just hours after reporting a toxic work environment filled with sexual harassment in the Republican Senate Caucus. She sued for just under a million but the jury was so offended it awarded her $2.2 million. Eventually, the suit was settled for $1.75 million with taxpayers footing the bill. As a working mother in my thirties, I saw myself in Kirsten and launched my campaign against Dix four days later to further the fight for harassment-free workplaces in Iowa.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your website? J.D.’s mom likes me more than she likes him!

Lastly, what’s your opinion of Steve King? He is the stain Iowa can’t seem to wash off.

Learn more about Tracy Freese at the links below:




Saturday Spotlight: Peter Leo, Iowa State House Candidate (HD-12)

Can you tell us a little bit about your race? House District 12 includes all of Audubon and Carroll Counties, as well as the eastern half of Crawford County. There are dozens of small cities and towns located in the three counties, as well as parts of sixteen different public school districts. Most voters here self-identify as Independents, and as I have gotten to know more of those folks I have learned they value public servants who focus on finding practical solutions to our state’s problems over politicians who prioritize party loyalty or their big-money donors’ personal agendas. That independent streak has shown up at the polls in recent years, as the district was represented by Dan Muhlbauer, a Democrat from Manilla, from 2011-2014, but is now represented by Brian Best, a Republican from Glidden who will be running for a third term this fall. It would be easy to assume west central Iowa is Republican territory because it’s a rural district. But the independent-minded voters here aren’t afraid to think for themselves. They do not feel their concerns have been adequately addressed at the statehouse over the last few years. They’re looking to make a change, and have reacted to my candidacy and my ideas with enthusiasm. I look forward to meeting even more of them, earning their trust, and sharing my vision for the district and our state in the weeks and months leading up to the election in November. 

What sets you apart from your opponent? Generally speaking, my opponent votes with his party leadership, no questions asked. Their priorities are his priorities; it’s that simple. As for me, party leaders and big-money campaign donors do not impress, intimidate, or sway me, and I will never make their agendas my own in exchange for personal gain. As a legislator, I’ll base my votes on whether a proposed policy is good for the people of the district regardless of how it affects me or my standing with fellow Democrats. In making those judgments, I will ask myself if the bill before me for a vote expands opportunities for all people regardless of their identity or their socioeconomic status, is true to the principles of fundamental fairness and basic human dignity, and is supported by unbiased, reliable data or other evidence. As for a specific policy on which we differ, my opponent and I have opposing views on what our state’s fiscal priorities should be. He has already stated publicly that he’ll vote to cut income taxes for the wealthiest Iowans and for large corporations no matter the consequences, he’ll break the state’s promise to hold local governments harmless from the state’s last round of tax cuts by eliminating the commercial property tax backfill, and that he’ll support his party leadership’s attempts to end to the tax increment financing (TIF) backfill for our school districts–a program that costs less than one-tenth of one percent of the state’s annual budget to provide. These policies will rob the state of its ability to create good jobs in rural Iowa and leave our school districts and local governments with a bill they can’t afford to pay. In contrast, my priorities as a legislator will be reinvestment in rural Iowa and economic security for every Iowan. I will fight to shore up the finances of our rural schools and local governments by providing them with additional state funding so that they can hire more workers and teachers and develop new infrastructure and curricular offerings. I would also work to create opportunities for new investments in main street businesses and Iowa’s farmers so that we can get all rural Iowans’ incomes growing again. And I will never stop working to make sure every Iowan has access to health care that they can afford, regardless of their personal means or their health history. 

Past or present, what political figure or figures do you look up to? Among current political figures, I admire Sec. Tom Vilsack. As governor of Iowa for eight years and most recently at USDA, he was a practical problem solver who put the good of the people he served above all other considerations. He continues to be a great representative for our state. If someone compared me to him one day I would be honored. As for political figures from years past, I have always been inspired by Franklin Roosevelt. His unwavering focus on bringing economic relief to the poor and the marginalized during the Great Depression reminds me of the inscription my father wrote in the John Steinbeck anthology he gave me when I was just one year old, reminding me to “Always be mindful of the human condition.” Those words have guided me since I entered adulthood, and I hope to use the gifts and good fortune I’ve received in my lifetime to give a voice and hope to the powerless, just like FDR did. 

What inspired you to run for office? My passion for solving complex problems and my empathy for others in need. I spent months trying to recruit candidates to run for state or local office in the area, and each person I talked to told me the same thing: That I should run. Finally, I decided, why not me? I love this community, and I have the drive, the intellect, and the people skills to deliver positive results to some of our state’s biggest challenges like fixing healthcare, supporting our schools and teachers, and creating high-paying jobs for the next generation of Iowans..

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your website? Like J.D., I was also a baseball player through college. Although I was not fortunate enough to play professionally after college, playing ball taught me the importance of teamwork, dedication to self-improvement, and humility in both success and failure. My campaign’s logo incorporates an image of home plate to remind me of all the valuable lessons I learned on the diamond over the years.

Lastly, what’s your opinion of Steve King? He has never accomplished anything for the people of our district. We need new leadership in Congress that will deliver for us.

Learn more about Peter Leo at the links below:




Saturday Spotlight: Tim Winter, Iowa State House Candidate (HD-48)

Can you tell us a little bit about your race?  

I am running for Iowa House of Representatives because we must build up our communities in our district.   We must create good-paying jobs and help small businesses grow.  High speed internet must be provided throughout the district including rural areas.  Our district needs access to affordable health care, health facilities and education.  We must protect family farms, as well as our precious soil and water.  

Our campaign is about having integrity and compassion towards fellow Iowans: to provide leadership and civility, to work towards solutions to the many issues facing us in our district and in Iowa.  We will bring the common-sense attitude and determination needed to the Iowa Legislature.  Let’s build Iowa House District 48 up!   

What sets you apart from your opponent?  

My opponent believes that giving hundreds of millions of dollars in Iowa tax breaks and tax credits to some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet is a good thing for Iowa citizens.  In House District 48 it actually has had the opposite effect.   It has created huge shortfalls in the Iowa budget, local governments and school districts.  To make up for the Iowa budget shortfall, my opponent plans to or has voted to cut funding on things like the Dept. of Human Services, Dept. of Public Health, Dept. of Corrections, the Iowa Skilled Worker Agency, the Job Creation Fund, the Agencies on Aging, Iowa Courts System, Dept. of Public Safety, Dept. of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, Dept. of Natural Resources, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Education.  I believe that these are desperately needed organizations and services for our District.  My opponent has stated he will be voting along with his leadership to slash $1.7 billion off tax revenues from the wealthiest Iowans and corporations, putting the emphasis of tax revenues on local governments and school districts. By breaking his promise of property tax backfills, local governments may be forced to raise property and sales taxes.  There may be more emphasis on local bond issues because of the lack of state support.  I do not want to see the people in our District have their property taxes and sales taxes go up, just so huge corporations that may not be located within our District, can show a larger profit.

Past or present, what political figure or figures do you look up to?  

Because of my background in Agronomy, I have always admired Henry A. Wallace.  Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States under Franklin D. Roosevelt, after he was the 11th US Secretary of Agriculture.  An Iowa farm boy from Adair County, he was raised as a Republican and later became a Democrat.  He founded the Progressive Party and ran as its Presidential nominee in 1948. Wallace obtained a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from Iowa State College in Ames, was an editor for the family-owned paper Wallaces’ Farmer and experimented with breeding high-yielding hybrid corn.  Wallace’s work introduced the concept of hybrid vigor.  In 1926 with the help of his wife, Ilo Browne, founded the Hi-Bred Corn Company, which later became Pioneer Hi-Bred. Today, I have great respect for and try to emulate leaders such as President Barack Obama, Secretary Colin Powell and Secretary Tom Vilsack.  They all have great devotion to the service of others.  They tirelessly work to bring solutions to problems.  They are community minded, cerebral in their thinking, kind, and inspire others to do more. This is what great leaders do.

What inspired you to run for office?

My Great-Grandparents had dreams of being landowners and American citizens, becoming one of the founding families of Boyden, Iowa.  By their faith and perseverance they made a home and started a family that continues to grow in Iowa.  They fought against injustice and hate groups which roamed the country side after the Civil War.  They helped build the local church to feed the souls of those weary of the harsh prairie conditions.  They housed those who came to their doorstep, fed those who were hungry, and supplied what little medicine they had to the ill.  They were community leaders and hard-working, progressive farmers. Thus, building community runs in my blood.  That is why I am running for Iowa House.  Like my ancestors, we must build up our communities and help each other reach our goals.  We must help create solid, good-paying jobs.  We must help small businesses grow, find quality employees and expand markets for their products.  We must provide high speed internet throughout Iowa, including rural areas.  We must have high quality, affordable health care.  We must attract new families and business into rural areas.  We must have access to mental health facilities and quality nursing homes.  We must have high quality, affordable education for our children, and for those wanting a post-secondary education.  We must protect family farms, as well as our precious soil and water.  We can do this!  Together we can fulfill these goals, like our ancestors did, to make Iowa a better place for us, our children and our grandchildren.    

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your website?

Any farmer can tell you that the amount of time spent in a tractor can be enormous.  While monitoring the equipment and gauges, I utilized the time to sing along with the radio or practice songs learned in choir.  This lead to being in All-State Choir in High School, singing at more weddings than I could possibly count and having the booming speaking voice I have today.

Lastly, what’s your opinion of Steve King?

My family originates from Sioux County which is the heart of his district.  So many people across the district and Iowa are deeply concerned about the hateful rhetoric that resonates from his campaign.  When you are trying to get your business and economy to grow in this district, it does not help to have someone who should be leading by bringing people together, is instead, pulling people apart.  When you are trying to encourage entrepreneurs to move to this district, the biggest roadblock is the negative image that he embodies.  The legislation that he has introduced while in Congress is minimal and hasn’t been made into law.  He is ineffective.  It is time for an effective leader who can unite us and not divide us.  Not just for Democrats, but for Independents and Republicans as well.  We are all in this together.  Let’s build Iowa up!

Learn more about Tim Winter at the links below:



Saturday Spotlight: Connie Price, Iowa State House Candidate (HD-08)

Can you tell us a little bit about your race? I am a candidate for District 08 in the Iowa House of Representatives. This district includes all of Hancock and Wright counties, and the southern part of Kossuth County. 

What sets you apart from your opponent? I am a progressive voice for policies that would help ordinary Iowans succeed.
I support:
* Fully funding all our public schools – pre-K through 12, community colleges, and state universities
* Public control of Medicaid, Medicare, and VA, with the goal of expanding affordable, quality, accessible healthcare for all
* Funding the air and water quality initiatives
* Incentives for meaningful job growth and living wages across all Iowa, not just the city and suburbs. 

Past or present, what political figure or figures do you look up to? Eleanor Roosevelt. She was an independent woman who was very compassionate. She helped FDR see the people in need and realize how important it was for government policies to help them, not harm them. 

What inspired you to run for office?
* I am deeply dismayed about the direction the current republican-controlled legislature is taking Iowa.
* Public money being used for private gain. Public money should be used for the public good! We need our public tax dollars to be used for public investment..

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your website? I have never met a vegetable I won’t eat, I love them all, even brussel sprouts!

Lastly, what’s your opinion of Steve King? Steve King is not representative of the Iowans I know. His public statements are an embarrassment to the hard-working, kind-hearted, generous people I know in our district. He has not sponsored any meaningful legislation during his time in Congress that has become law.

Learn more about Connie Price at the links below:



Saturday Spotlight: Jake Thompson, Iowa State House Candidate (HD-10)

Can you tell us a little bit about your race? House District 10 encompasses all of Calhoun, Humboldt, and Pocahontas counties, as well as western Webster County. As you might imagine, we’re a very rural area. I am from Rockwell City, as is my opponent, Mike Sexton. 

What sets you apart from your opponent? I am running to stand up for my friends, family, and neighbors, not to personally and politically profit off making their lives harder. 

Past or present, what political figure or figures do you look up to? I grew up listening to Grandpa Thompson talk about The Depression. At one point the locusts supposedly swarmed so thick that they chewed the paint right off the house. The family had to eat the field corn just to survive, leaving them with nothing to sell. The situation was dark, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt came in with the New Deal and helped lead America through those hard times. Generations later, the Thompson family still has not forgotten that. 

What inspired you to run for office? Rural Iowa faces many threats. Our countryside is emptying as our population ages and sickens, while the unchecked expansion of large hog confinement operations drives families away. But perhaps what hit our family dinner table the hardest was the gutting of collective bargaining.

My father is a corrections officer, and public workers of all varieties make up a large part of our employment base in this District. This is especially true in Rockwell City because it has the correctional facility. Dad getting that good job was huge for our family, and he and mom are still raising my two elementary-aged brothers. The legislature’s attack on collective bargaining and the protections it offers has put our family in financial danger and my father in physical danger.

Mike Sexton knew exactly who was going to be hurting when he voted to backstab the unions: he sees those people at the gas station. He voted against his friends and neighbors because he was told to, and he did it for his own political gain. He is completely directed by the big money controlling him, and if he won’t stand up for his hometown, he won’t do it for anyone.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your website? I tied for second at the Iowa State Fair hot dog eating contest last year, losing to the #12 ranked eater in the world and tying with the #24 ranked eater. It is a pretty funny video to watch—they did a little interview with me for local color, then placed me at the far end of the table thinking that I didn’t have a chance—but I defeated a couple of people that were supposedly ranked in the top 50. The announcer started to get really excited by the end. I unfortunately had to decline an upcoming contest due to a conflict, but I hope to be at the Fair again this year.

Lastly, what’s your opinion of Steve King? I’ve never met him in person and he never has any legislation move forward, so like the rest of the world I only hear about him when he says something hateful. Everyone can see how divided our people are right now, and we need someone to bring us together, not drive us further apart.

Learn more about Jake Thompson at the links below:



Saturday Spotlight: David Weaver, Iowa State House Candidate (HD-47)

Can you tell us a little bit about your race? House District #47 geographically covers approximately 100% of Greene County and 75% of Boone County (the eastern tier of 4 townships is in HD#48; that’s Tim Winter Country!). I decided to run in December of 2017 and announced in January of 2018. The current representative decided not to run, so three Republicans emerged on the day of the filing deadline. My opponent on the November ballot is actually a second cousin, though we have never met. He is 27, a veteran, and spent some time in 2016 canvassing and campaigning for the NRA; he was working as a legislative assistant for a Republican legislator when he decided to file to run for office. It is an open seat with no incumbent, which always makes things interesting. 40% of the voting population is the city of Boone, and 60% is “everything else.” That includes cities like Jefferson and Ogden, as well as a lot of corn and soybean fields. I think of this as the HWY 30 corridor (i.e. the Lincoln Highway) between Ames and Carroll. There is a lot of manufacturing in this district, including Scranton Manufacturing and Deere Planters in Paton. DMACC in Boone, as well as the National Guard in Boone are some of the things that I think about when I consider representing this District. My daughter just finished her kindergarten year at Ogden, so while I graduated from East Greene in 1988, we will be raising a little Bulldog! In the end, though, I think it is a truly blended district of both rural and urban interests, which is why I think I would best be able to represent it. I am a farmer and have been paying property taxes since 2006 in both Boone and Greene Counties. We built our home on my grandfather’s home place; he was a Greene County supervisor, and loved every minute of talking with constituents in his district. 

What sets you apart from your opponent? Our career paths have been very different. I got my degree from Central College in 1992, did an internship with Tom Harkin’s office in Des Moines, and even had an internship with a Member of Parliament while I was a student (Central College has a strong overseas program) in London. I have done a lot of traveling around the world as part of my education, but always been partial to living in Iowa. I’ve lived in Grinnell, Iowa City, Davenport, Westside and Perry, but I have always thought of the farm where I grew up as “home.” I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to raise my daughter here in Iowa, close to where I grew up and just a mile from my parents. I want to see good jobs return to this area – the success of our schools, health care, and government services depends on it. Iowans need better wages, affordable health care and insurance, and good schools for our children and grandchildren. 

Past or present, what political figure or figures do you look up to? Abraham Lincoln. He was (he said!) a simple country lawyer. During the time I was a librarian at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, I kept bumping into different aspects about Lincoln that I was unaware of. Early in his career he took up a case representing railroads, in a dispute between steamboats and railroad interests, which were specific to an incident of a Mississippi riverboat being damaged by a bridge that was built for steam locomotives. I was reminded of this story each time I crossed the Rock Island Arsenal Bridge, on my commute from Davenport to Rock Island. I look up to “Honest Abe” because he had a reputation for delving into the facts, and for being extremely thorough as a lawyer. Lincoln believed strongly in the power of words and argument. He was greatly respected among his peers. I think that most people remember Abraham Lincoln as a gentleman. Lincoln knew the importance of holding the country together, and my goal as legislator will be to reach across the aisle and work to solve problems for Iowans. 

What inspired you to run for office? While I always mention on the campaign trail that the deciding factor for me to run was my disappointment in the 2017 legislative session at the Iowa Capitol (gutting Chapter 20, de-funding the Leopold Center, the assault on women’s rights, etc.), I can tell you that in my family, we have always taken a keen interest in government and service. Elections and government have always been discussed at the Weaver dinner table. My parents were and are both active in many local boards – my mother was president of the East Greene School board for a time. My father was on several different local boards – Rippey/Heartland Co-op, Cattlemen’s Association, a nursing home, etc. and my grandfather Lee Dorris was a Greene County Supervisor. My great-grandfather, Royal Higgins, represented Greene County at the State Capitol in the 1925-1927 session. I was taught at an early age that service to your community is important, and I see this as an opportunity to serve Iowans.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your website? I have something in common with David Bowie, Mila Kunis and Jane Seymour; we each have heterochromia (different colored eyes)!

Lastly, what’s your opinion of Steve King? I was particularly disappointed when Mr. King chose to display a flag of the Confederate States on his desk. Iowa sent more soldiers to fight in the Civil War, per capita population, than any other state in the Union. Rippey, my hometown, is named after Robert Rippey. Mr. Rippey was a Greene County Judge who lead a group of Greene County men and boys as a Captain for the Union Army in the Civil War. He died fighting to preserve our Union and our United States. I believe that Iowans are much more positive and have a much better respect for ourselves and our immigrant ancestors than our current representative seems to have. I have met JD Scholten; his youth, expectations, knowledge of law and compassion will prove him to be a much better representative in the U. S. Congress. I look forward to the day when Iowans of this district are represented by Mr. Scholten.

Learn more about David Weaver at the links below:




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.

PRESS RELEASE: J.D. Scholten Significantly Outraises Steve King for the Second Straight Quarter

Sioux City, IA – J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, today reported an impressive first quarter fundraising total of over $219,000, which includes over $211,000 from more than 4,400 contributions by over 3,400 individual donors. For the second quarter in a row, the Scholten campaign received contributions from all 50 states and Washington D.C. 

Congressman Steve King reported raising a total of just over $124,000. Over the last two quarters combined, Scholten has outraised King $394,000 to $212,000, and currently holds a cash on hand advantage of $271,000 to $76,000. This is also the second consecutive quarter the Scholten campaign significantly outraised Steve King after outraising him nearly 2-to-1 in the final quarter of 2017.

Additionally, over 500 volunteers have signed up with the campaign, including at least one from each of the 39 counties in the district. The Scholten campaign is also the only campaign in the district to have received endorsements from local labor groups. 

Scholten’s comments on the campaign’s latest FEC report: 

I’m incredibly grateful for the amount of support our movement has received. Last quarter we outraised Steve King nearly 2-to-1. Significantly outraising him once again absolutely proves that this seat is in play in November. I’m especially encouraged by the growing number of Republicans that have already vocalized their support and have contributed to our campaign.

I’m equally proud of the number of volunteers that have signed on to be a part of our team. The grassroots support and increasingly high turnout we’ve seen at events across the district shows that our message is really connecting with people here.

As a first time working-class candidate, fundraising isn’t easy. To significantly outraise an eight-term incumbent for two consecutive quarters reflects how hard I am willing to work for people of the 4th Congressional District of Iowa.

The fact that our total dollars raised has increased for the third quarter in a row indicates that our campaign is building momentum. This is a clear sign that people are energized by our message and are ready for a candidate that cares more about building and unifying the district than dividing us apart. We’re growing the kind of movement it’s going to take to defeat Steve King.

The Intercept: Iowa Progressive Emerges as Serious Challenger to Eight-Term Congressional Republican Steve King

THE INTERCEPT – Iowa Republican Steve King is a notorious bigot who has comfortably served in Congress since 2003, but a surprising challenger in the historically Republican district is proving he may have what it takes to unseat King in November.

Former professional baseball player J.D. Scholten is a progressive who is one of four Democrats who have tossed their hats in the ring of Iowa’s 4th District. He witnessed a surge in fundraising at the end of last year, bringing in $174,344 to King’s $87,544 in the fourth quarter. (King has raised the most money overall, with $244,725 to Scholten’s $214,487, but last quarter’s results show the tide may be turning.)

Progressive insurgents have entered congressional races in district after district amid an expected Democratic wave in the midterm elections, and as the primary races heat up, the looming question is whether they can defeat their more centrist opponents, who have the backing of the Democratic Party. (As The Intercept reported last week, a handful of progressives are out-raising their establishment opponents.) In Iowa, each of the Democrats is a first-time candidate, and the more central question is whether a district that has belonged to Republicans for decades can possibly turn from red to blue.

“We’re grateful for the amount of support this campaign has received,” Scholten said. “At first, our focus was to get out on the road to engage with as many people as possible. At the time, people liked us simply because I wasn’t Steve King. Now we’re seeing the shift to people responding to our message of inclusiveness.”

Scholten’s platform includes backing a $15 minimum wage, moving toward a single-payer health care system, and comprehensive immigration reform. He’s landed the support of Krystal Ball, founder of the People’s House Project, a group that supports progressive candidates. (The People’s House Project has not officially endorsed Scholten.)

View image on TwitterScholten was born in Iowa, but he was living in Seattle last year when Trump was elected president. He said he was inspired by the Seattle Women’s March to get more involved in the political process. “I just got so moved by the passion and raw energy that happened — I had a moment of clarity,” he said. Around the same time, his grandmother died in Iowa. After attending the funeral, he felt compelled to move home and get involved.

His immigration platform is diametrically opposite to where King stands on the issue. King has demanded surveillance of American mosques and cozied up to extreme nativist politicians like Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Just two months ago, he condemned the concept of diversity altogether, adding to his long history of demonizing immigrants and promoting a homogenous culture.

In an interview with The Intercept, Scholten portrayed King’s views on immigration as not just out of touch with the northwestern Iowa district’s values, but also in conflict with its economic needs.

“In this district, we have so many rural communities that are just using immigrant labor as a backbone for their economy,” he said, “and to have him just spout these things it’s just, obviously on the moral side I’m against it, but on the just practical side, it goes drastically against the district.”

King defeated his Democratic opponent by 22.6 percentage points in 2016, a fact that is not lost on Scholten. Still, the former baseball player is encouraged by Democratic performance in Iowa’s special elections over the last year. “We’ve had five special elections at the state level since the presidential election, and the average of all of those are plus 29 toward Democrats,” he said.

Scholten’s strategy for taking back the district is to lean hard into pocketbook issues.

“Is there going to be a wave? Probably. But we’re not counting on it. I’m not out there being complacent and just expecting things to happen. I’m out there going into some of the typical areas that Democrats don’t get out to,” he said. “A huge problem of Democrats here is that there’s not a Midwest Democrat … who has kind of shown that we’re a different type of Democrat. [We want to] focus on the working class and at the end of the day, letting them know that I’m fighting for their job, I’m fighting for their paycheck and retirement, I’m fighting for their health care, and I’m fighting for their kids’ education.”

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