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Professional Baseball Player Turns Congressional Candidate

DAILY TIMES HERALD – For J.D. Scholten, it doesn’t matter where he’s traveled or how tall he is. And he’s tall. What defines him are Iowa roots, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Iowa’s sweeping 4th District said in Carroll Wednesday night.

Standing 6 feet, 6 inches, Scholten, 37, is a fifth-generation Iowan and the first in his family, which has deep agricultural roots, to be born in an Iowa city — Ames.

Scholten once pitched for minor league professional baseball teams throughout Europe and the United States before he became a paralegal.

Then, after being upset at President Donald Trump’s election, a politically animated Scholten returned home to Iowa from Seattle and dedicated his life to politics.

Scholten held a meet-and-greet at Pizza Ranch in Carroll Wednesday to discuss what drove him to run for the Iowa 4th District seat.

Scholten’s family moved from Ames to Sioux City when he was 3 years old after his dad accepted the position as head baseball coach at Morningside College.

Scholten himself played Division II baseball for as long as he could at Morningside before transferring to a Division I school — University of Nebraska at Lincoln — to focus on pitching. He was a member of a Husker team that played in the College World Series in Omaha.

Scholten’s baseball career took him to Canada, Belgium, France and even Cuba, where he played professionally. He also played for the independent league team, the Sioux City Explorers.

“I played in Europe, and in between seasons I started building a career as a paralegal. That brought me up to Minneapolis and out to Seattle, so this time last year I was living in Seattle,” Scholten said.

After the 2016 election, Scholten grew disheartened and knew he wanted to come home and make a difference. He called his parents in Sioux City and said he was coming back. They told him, “We’re moving.” So, Scholten bought his childhood home from his parents and returned to Iowa to begin his campaign, he said.

Prior to giving the speech in Carroll and conducting an interview with The Daily Times Herald, Scholten walked up and down a meeting room at Pizza Ranch greeting audience members in gray New Balance sneakers and a flannel shirt. He nodded as he listened to concerns from about 20 voters on issues such as agriculture and the potential impact Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall may have on corn exports to a large U.S. grain customer. Many also talked with Scholten about health care, the GOP tax plan and the recent sexual-misconduct allegations — and admissions and apologies from some — that have roiled American politics.

When it comes to the recent version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed through the U.S. Senate, Scholten said it is horrible not only for America, but for middle-class Iowans.

“If your household makes $75,000 in Iowa, you’re taxed at 8.89 percent,” Scholten said. “In some of the higher-income places like New York and California, you have to make $1 million to get taxed at that high of a rate. So what this tax cut does is takes away the deduction of the state income tax, so you get double-taxed — you get taxed on the state and you get taxed on the federal. That’s going to hurt a lot of middle-class Iowans.”

Scholten used his baseball career as an analogy to explain why he is running for Congress.

He compared his teammates, whom he was not able to pick, to Democrats and Republicans. In baseball, the common goal was to win, Scholten said. That’s what Scholten wants Congress to get back to, he said.

“It didn’t matter if my shortstop was from the Dominican Republic, Texas or Delaware,” Scholten said.

Scholten’s No. 1 priority, if elected to represent 39 counties in Congress, is health care.

Scholten, a Catholic, is pro-choice on abortion and believes in convenient access to contraception.

“Therein lies the struggle being a Catholic — I have my personal views. There are some voters out there, we’re never going to agree on that. I have to accept that. Where I’m coming from is, I personally have a view on it, but then my political view is what I mentioned,” Scholten said.

He wants to see more sex education and access to contraception like Colorado’s free or low-cost access to birth control which, according to the Denver Post, reduced the teen abortion rate in Colorado by 64 percent in the past eight years.

When asked what he believes King, a veteran Republican with an electoral stranglehold on the district, has done to support rural Iowa, Scholten answered, “Who’s Steve King?” with a laugh.

“You look at ethanol — ethanol has done wonders for the 4th District,” Scholten said. “You look at him going down to Mexico and stirring the pot on the wall. Twenty-percent of our corn goes down to Mexico. They’re looking at other places. They’re looking at Argentina. That’s going to hurt our farmers.”

Scholten said King blindly signs whatever lobbyists push in front of him.

“If I was an eight-time incumbent, you would be darn sure I’m at the lead of the farm bill. He is not a leader in Congress. That’s really frustrating,” Scholten said.

Bigger picture where American politics in general are concerned, every day, new allegations pop up of elected officials and candidates being accused of sexual assault and harassment. When it comes to the recent allegations pressed on those political candidates and leaders, Scholten agrees investigations are necessary.

“It’s not a partisan issue,” Scholten said. “If you did these things, there should be consequences. And that’s what we are seeing on both sides of the aisle, I feel.”

He was not able to elaborate on any of the many accusations of President Trump harassing and assaulting women. But he said that both Trump and former President Bill Clinton should be investigated for their alleged actions.

“I am not charging (Trump) with anything because I don’t know any specifics or anything. I get my news from the paper like anyone else, so I’m not charging him with anything. There should be an investigation,” Scholten said.

Scholten voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Now he’s focused his full energies on 2018 and Democrats’ efforts to wrestle Congress from the Republicans and challenge a Trump agenda Scholten said is devastating for Iowa.

“Everything I have in my life I’m putting on this,” Scholten said. “Because I am so frustrated. This is everything I want to do, is beat Steve King so bad because again, he does not represent us.”

by ANNIE MEHL, Staff Writer
 

full article: http://www.1380kcim.com/news/2017/district-four-democratic-congressional-candidate-j-d-scholten-says-his-campaign-is-centered-on-inclusiveness/