DOWN WITH TYRANNY – Before you read J.D.’s guest post, you might want to take a look ay the brand new Iowa Survey results. You’ll notice that in IA-04, the most Republican district in the state, only 49% approve of Trump, only 43% approve of Republican Governor Kim Reynold’s job performance and that just 26% approve of the Republican-controlled state legislature. And when those IA-04 voters were asked if they think the legislature should reinstate a requirement that local and state government negotiate with public employee unions regarding the safety and benefits of workers, 56% said yes and just 24% said no.
Reaching Out to Rural Iowa: How I am going to beat Steve King
-by J.D. Scholten
When I first thought about running for Congress in Iowa’s 4th District to unseat Steve King, one of the first people I reached out to was Frank LaMere, a family friend, activist, and former Democratic Party chairman of the National Native American Caucus. He told me, “J.D., if you want this, you have to get uncomfortable. Once you get uncomfortable, you have to make others uncomfortable.”
Being uncomfortable in this district means going to where you are not invited, going to the counties that historically vote around 80% Republican. If you don’t, then you can’t expect change. This is the largest and most rural district in Iowa. It contains 39 counties, and is larger than the land area of the smallest 115 U.S. Congressional Districts combined. Since this journey began, I have put over 35,000 miles on my car. I easily could stay in my hometown, Sioux City, or the Democratic hub, Ames. Instead, I choose to be uncomfortable and drive to those inconvenient places because I want change and am willing to put in the work to make it happen.
You have to also understand that in rural Iowa, much of our work goes into products that are exported: The crops we grow and harvest get shipped away. The energy we harness (Iowa leads the nation in wind energy) gets exported. The youth we educate often leave for outside opportunities. We have a selfless mentality of bettering the world.
Rural Iowans don’t view the government as something that can do things “for” them, but as something that does things “to” them. For Democrats to have an impact, we have to be willing to work with them. We need to show them that government is supposed to be a resource and not a burden.
It’s important to understand what it’s like to have the closest Target store be an hour and a half away, the significance of bringing the community together for high school athletics, and the value of church on Sunday mornings. Rural Iowans like having their space and independence while also having an identity with their community.
I understand that having “Democrat” by my name will immediately turn some of them off. In fact, nothing turns them off more than the National Democratic Party. That’s not going stop me from getting uncomfortable. I might not always get their vote, but I am going to show that I am trustworthy. At the end of the day, I will tell them all the same thing: I am fighting for their job and their retirement, I am fighting for their paycheck, I am fighting for their healthcare, and I am fighting for their children’s education.
Ultimately, this is how I am going to beat Steve King. I may not win the counties that usually go 80% for Republicans. But by God, I am going to work my tail off to get enough votes in these areas to allow me to shrink the margins and win big in the areas that I can. I wouldn’t be running against Steve King if I didn’t believe in my heart that this race could be won. It’s going to take a grassroots effort like we’ve never seen in this district. We’re already laying the foundation– join us in getting uncomfortable, and together, we will create that movement of change we’re all looking for!
Standing Tall for All,