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Storm Lake Times: Scholten is a contender

Most surprising in the Iowa Poll released by The Des Moines Register on Saturday was the revelation that Democrat JD Scholten trails Republican Randy Feenstra 49-44% in the Fourth Congressional District. Last summer, a generic Republican led a generic Democrat for that House seat by 22 points.

Scholten came within three percentage points of beating Rep. Steve King in 2018. He has worked non-stop ever since, visiting every little burg in the 39 counties of Northwest Iowa in his motorhome Sioux City Sue. Scholten has campaigned in Storm Lake countless times, most recently drawing a large crowd for one of his parking lot rallies. He had 24 people out to hear him in tiny Cooper, down near Jefferson, last weekend.

He has been making friends wherever he goes — it’s hard not to like the former semi-pro pitcher and paralegal — and that adds up. He speaks to disgruntled Republican farmers who know they’ve been getting locked out of markets and squeezed in every direction by companies with too much power and influence. He appeals to small-town folks worried about losing their grocery stores against Dollar General. He quotes the Bible. He is for universal health care and Social Security and a compassionate immigration system that works.

Feenstra is for everything Steve King and Donald Trump are for. He refuses to debate Scholten. He has not campaigned in Storm Lake. He is betting that Sioux, O’Brien and Lyon counties will do the trick. Meantime, Scholten is raising more funds and making more friends in Sioux County and Palo Alto. He is connecting in Ames, Sioux City, Fort Dodge and Mason City. Scholten should win Storm Lake, as he did last time.

Republicans thought all they had to do was get rid of Steve King and they would be rid of Scholten. Not so fast. This is a contest.

-ART CULLEN