J.D. Scholten said he decided to run again in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District because he feels as if he has “unfinished business.”
The Sioux City Democrat who was born in Ames announced his candidacy on Monday and began hitting the campaign trail immediately. On Tuesday he sat down with the Ames Tribune ahead of an evening rally at Mother’s Pub in Ames.
Scholten said part of his decision to run was the result of looking back at his 2018 campaign, which ended with a 3.3 percentage point loss to Republican incumbent Steve King.
“I committed 16 months of my life to running a campaign and doing something that had never been done before, and we were rewarded with moving the needle 24 points,” Scholten said. “What was really interesting is, politics is a zero sum game, but we’re in this weird middle ground where we lost, but we did so much and changed the narrative of this district that there’s been this cloud over us for a long time. Ultimately, we built something and there’s unfinished business.”
He said the infrastructure from his 2018 race is intact, and “we’re starting where we left off and what I’ve seen the past two days has been remarkable.”
He talked about what he believes is King’s increased vulnerability following the controversies surrounding the congressman’s statements about white supremacy and nationalism in an interview with the New York Times, and the subsequent stripping of his committee assignments by House leadership.
“We have to call out racism where it’s at, we need to call out hatred where it’s at, it’s becoming too common place in America right now,” he said.
Scholten said the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and others that have happened before them, only strengthens his revolve to do what’s needed to help reduce the risk of similar tragedies in the future.
“There’s this narrative that it’s either the Second Amendment or gun safety, but there’s a lot of ground where we can work here,” he said. “When 97 percent of Americans want universal background checks, but when 97 percent of Americans want something and Congress doesn’t do it, that’s a failure of our democracy.”
Scholten said he would fight to get rid of special interests that control national policy, and that influence is why universal background checks haven’t been implemented.
“We need to clean up Washington, and it goes with all the corruption … that’s where the root of the problem is,” Scholten said.
Scholten also reiterated his positions on revitalizing rural communities, a Medicare for all healthcare policy, and fixing the nation’s immigration system.
On revitalizing rural Iowa, Scholten said more needs to be done to draw good jobs that pay $50,000 to $60,000 a year to rural Iowa. He cited a drop in the number of graduates from Iowa State University in high-tech fields staying in Iowa.
“We need a lot more of that, we need it in Sioux City, we need it in Fort Dodge, we need it in Mason City, that is where the future of the Iowa economy is, it’s in technology and agriculture technology,” he said.
With Iowa’s 4th District being the second most agriculture producing district in the country, the tariffs that have been imposed as part of the trade war with China not only are having a negative impact on Iowa producers, but those costs will be passed on the consumer, too, Scholten said.
“We need a leader in D.C. that’s fighting for this district and fighting for the farmers, and you see the vulnerability of King with having a primary,” he said.
Three Republicans, state Sen. Randy Feenstra, former Irwin Mayor Bret Richards and former state Rep. Jeremy Taylor have all announced they will challenge King in a primary next year.
On immigration reform, Scholten said the country’s immigration system needs to be fixed if the state’s economy is expected to grow.
“We need immigration reform because we need the workers,” Scholten said.
Scholten said one of top issues he hears from voters in the 4th District is finding workers to fill vacant positions, and that commonsense reform is needed to streamline the path toward citizenship.
“The system is just broke,” Scholten said. “We haven’t had comprehensive immigration reform since 1986, a lot has changed since then, we can modernize a lot of things … we just need to find a way to come together, and there is an avenue to get things done now.”
Despite everything, healthcare remains the No. 1 issue for voters, Scholten said.
He said too many people remain uninsured or under-insured, and too many people continue to struggle to pay their medical bills. Scholten said there are too many collection cans set out at convenience stores to help raise money for families who are struggling, and too many GoFundMe accounts set up to help people pay medical bills.
“I think our goal is Medicare for all, but I think it’s going to take steps to get there,” Scholten said.
But he acknowledged that he’s open to other options.
“I’m also to the point where .. whatever works, as long as we have a system that gets rid of those donation boxes, I’m almost 99 percent sure I’d vote for it.”
By Michael Crumb, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Aug 6, 2019 at 4:53 PM
Updated Aug 6, 2019 at 10:17 PM