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Sioux City Journal: At Labor Day picnic, J.D. Scholten says campaign ‘night and day’ to early in 2018 run

J.D. Scholten spent the early portion of his time at Monday’s Sioux City Labor Day Picnic in the serving line, asking people if they wanted Cheetos, Lays or Ruffles potato chips with their lunch.

But when it was his turn to address the crowd, he served up red-meat issues for the pro-Democratic crowd.

If voters were to elect him to Congress to represent Iowa’s 4th District, he pledged to fix health care, limit the influence of special interests in government and work to ensure that all Americans, especially the working class, can enjoy economic success.

“Ultimately in our economy, we have to solve this question: How does the working class have a place in globalization? They say the economy is doing well, but for whom?” the Sioux City Democrat said.

[Read more on Sioux City’s Labor Day picnic: Menu features both burgers and politics.]

The last of six politicians who spoke at the picnic, Scholten drew the loudest applause when introduced. Unknown two years ago when he launched a long-shot campaign against Republican Steve King, Scholten drew national attention by coming within 3 points of unseating King in a district in which Republicans hold a hefty advantage in voter registration totals.

Scholten is again taking aim at King, who must first defeat three challengers in a primary election to win a spot on the 2020 ballot and run for a 10th term. Scholten thus far is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and he’s no longer a stranger when walking into an event such as Monday’s picnic.

“Where our campaign started now compared to two years ago is night and day,” he said.

Many of the issues remain unchanged, however.

Scholten said he favors some type of universal health care, but for now would be happy with a system in which Medicare was available to anyone who wants it. In his travels throughout the 4th District, he’s seen too many people relying on donations to pay for costly medical treatments.

“We’ve got to fix health care. There are far too many pancake feeds … far too many donation boxes in gas stations paying for our health care,” he said.

Scholten also is pushing for economic policies that will help workers rather than the corporations that employ them.

“Way too many policies are dictating to corporations and the 1%. Working-class people are being left behind. People are at a disadvantage. Corporations are getting tax write-offs.”

Joe Sestak, the lone Democratic presidential candidate to appear at the picnic, also spoke in support of organized labor and working-class people.

“I look at unions, they stand for working families, and they’re the last organized force that stands for working families,” the retired Navy admiral and former Pennsylvania congressman said.

Sestak said he’s running as someone who will unify Americans rather than divide them. Drawing upon his Navy background, he told the audience that the young sailors on board an aircraft carrier can count on one another to do their jobs, even standing in front of idling jets to prevent them from mistakenly being launched.

“No one believes anyone in Washington, D.C., will stand in front of that plane for them. I want to,” Sestak said. “This nation cannot meet the defining challenges of its time unless it’s united. That’s why I’m running.”

NICK HYTREK nhytrek@siouxcityjournal.com
Sep 2, 2019