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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.