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Sioux City Journal: Scholten parking lot rally in Sioux City draws more than 70 vehicles

SIOUX CITY — Appearing in a new style of campaigning designed to keep people safe during a time of novel coronavirus spread, J.D. Scholten on Thursday said he should be voted into the U.S. House because he will pursue campaign finance reform and make sure working class families have access to good health care. 

With less than three weeks to the Nov. 3 election, Scholten hosted the event in his hometown at Riverside Park as a parking lot rally, a format he has used in other towns recently throughout the 4th congressional district.

People parked at the lot and were required to stay in their vehicles during the program. They heard Scholten’s speech broadcast over a FM radio frequency, and could pose questions by text messaging to a campaign phone number.

He fielded 11 of those, with the topics touching on infrastructure, gun rights, health care and what farmers can do to help combat climate change.

“We are about showing up, we are about answering every question,” Scholten said, and some of his responses drew support, in the form of people honking horns.

More than 70 vehicles parked to listen in. Pam Bombey, of Sioux City, said she liked the format, and contrasted it to the large rallies President Donald Trump is using in vying for re-election against Joe Biden.

“It is so much smarter than what Trump is doing,” Bombey said.

She also said she had used the early voting option to cast a ballot: “I would vote for a dead skunk before I would vote for a Republican this year.”

J.D. Scholten, Democratic nominee for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, speaks from the back of a pickup truck during a parking lot rally at Riverside Park, Thursday, in Sioux City, Iowa, Oct. 15, 2020.Jesse Brothers, Sioux City Journal

The congressional contest includes Scholten and Randy Feenstra, a Republican state senator from Hull.

Scholten spoke on the same day that the Journal published a story that cited an internal poll from Feenstra that showed he had a 23 percentage point lead. According to that poll by American Viewpoint, conducted for Feenstra’s team, Feenstra leads Scholten, 54 to 31 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

Scholten told rally attendees that poll was a so-called push poll, an exercise in which the true objective is to sway voters using loaded questions, as an attempt by Feenstra to manipulate and “scare voters.”

“This poll is nothing more than a sad attempt to create a caricature of me rather than reflecting my real positions. Folks in Iowa’s 4th District know me and what I stand for. That’s because I’ve driven 7,786 miles to visit all 374 towns in the district, said yes to every debate, held public events, and said no question is off limits,” he said in a statement to the Journal.

An Iowa Poll by The Des Moines Register on Sep. 18, which put Feenstra’s lead at 5 percentage points. Scholten said his own internal polling showed he was faring even better than that.

Additionally, back in early August, an independent poll released by Monmouth University Polling Institute showed Feenstra had a commanding 54 percent to 34 percent lead over Scholten among registered voters, with 8 percent undecided.

J.D. Scholten, Democratic nominee for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, speaks from the back of a pickup truck during a parking lot rally at Riverside Park, Thursday, in Sioux City, Iowa, Oct. 15, 2020.Jesse Brothers, Sioux City Journal

Five hours after Scholten’s rally, quarterly campaign finance reports were due by midnight to the Federal Election Commission. Those will show fundraising done through Sept. 30, and up to now, Scholten has outperformed Feenstra over the campaign cycle, bringing in $1.65 million, while Feenstra has had $1.25 million in contributions.

Feenstra’s team routinely says Scholten is a liberal who is out of touch with 4th District Iowans.

Scholten halted the rally after 35 minutes, so people could then watch the U.S. Senate debate, projected on screen, with incumbent Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.