J.D. Scholten

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J.D. Scholten Campaigns in Iowa


J.D. Scholten is a Sioux City Iowa activist. His father is Jim Scholten.

PDA endorsement

In 2020 Progressive Democrats of America endorsed J.D. Scholten's congressional run.[1]

"Progressive" Support

From an article dated May 30 2018 by Pat Rynard:[2]

"Scholten’s policy positions certainly fall on the left side of the party – he’s for a $15/hour minimum wage and a Medicare-for-all healthcare system – and the party’s progressive activists helped fuel his initial efforts."

Communist connection

Steve Villatoro December 8, 2019 ·

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Important meeting today with J.D. Scholten and Joe Henry — drinking coffee with Joe Henry at Mars Coffee Bar.

Jennifer Winn Connection

Jennifer Winn with J.D. Scholten

Jennifer Winn worked on J.D. Scholten's campaign.

Grant Owens connection

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J.D. Scholten with Grant Owens.

Socialist campaigner

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In 2018 Amanda Malaski, was a field organizer for the J.D. Scholten campaign.[3]

2018 ballot signature volunteers

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J.D. Scholten March 14, 2018 · It's official—J.D. Scholten is on the ballot!

Several Democratic Socialists of America members are on the list.

We collected 25 of a required 20 counties, and 2,119 of a required 1,275 signatures! GAME ON! A special thank you to all the volunteers that worked so hard to help us qualify:

Jessica Chrystal, Annette Gehling (Ann Spare), Ria Keinert, Keith Crane, Marian Kuper, Jessica Fears, Melissa Cadmus, April Burch, Stephanie Schubert, Russell Field, Ryan Arndorfer, Jesica Butler, Lynne Richtsmeier, Jane Alexander, Brie Walker, Skylynd Meraz, Barb Wheelock, Emma Schmit, Mark Olson and Kay Olson, Sylvia Vust, Shannon Walker, Daniel Ginger-Goodson, Josh Ginger-Goodson , Robin Kinnan, Emily Carlson, Brenda VanDeer, Jerry Yocum, Laura Hutchcroft, Colleen Martin-Herrin, Connor Nolan, Maureen Ogle, Tom Brantseg, Jan Creasman, Ken Mertes, Gary Lipshutz, Jerry Depew, Donna Campbell, Gail Allison, Carol John.

And to everyone else who signed and helped collect signatures to get J.D. on the ballot, THANK YOU!

Primary win

J.D. Scholten, the Sioux City paralegal and former professional baseball player who spent the final weeks of the primary campaign criss-crossing the northwest part of Iowa in a motor home, won the 4th Congressional District’s Democratic nomination Tuesday night. He will face incumbent Republican Rep. Steve King in the November general election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Scholten had won 51.22 percent percent of the 4th District’s Democratic vote, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. He easily defeated Ames pediatrician John Paschen and Spencer City Councilwoman Leann Jacobsen in the district’s first contested Democratic primary since Iowa’s most recent round of redistricting in 2011. Jacobsen finished second with 31.95 percent of vote, while Pachsen came in third with 16.73 percent of the vote.

He admitted during the campaign that his stances on certain issues matched or were similar to those of his two competitors. When asked why people should vote for him, he said his campaign would be in the best position to defeat King in the fall because of its fundraising advantage over King and the other Democrats, manpower and social media following. His campaign also touted his endorsements from Iowa and national lawmakers, labor unions and Democratic organizations.

“He’s an honest, genuine person who wants to get to know everybody in Iowa,” said Scholten supporter Jessica Fears, who added that King hasn’t done “anything at all” in Congress.

Fears was one of about 20 Scholten supporters who congregated at the campaign’s Kellogg Avenue office to watch the returns come in. Along the wall, a cardboard cutout of King was wearing a Scholten campaign T-shirt.[4]

Vote Common Good 2018 endorsements

Vote Common Good 2018 endorsements included J.D. Scholten.

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J.D. Scholten November 7, 2018 ·

2018 J.D. Scholten supporters

J.D. Scholten November 7, 2018 ·

In June of last year, I met who became the first two members of my staff, and I told them, “There are two things that make me uncomfortable: speaking in public, and asking people for money; so naturally, I should run for Congress.” In the 17 months since that day, what this campaign, this movement, has accomplished, is nothing short of remarkable.

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Thank you.... See More — with David Lamando, Adrian Koster, Connor Nolan, Cody Hankerson, Mitchell Kerr, Patrick Nusbaum, Danny Rico, Sam Muhr, Meredith Raimondi, J.D. Scholten, Todd Prieb, Irene Lin, John Kalapos, Erica Michelle Young, Lewis H. Cohen, Annabelle Marie White, Ann Spare and Dani Postma.

Democrat support

Sen. Cory Booker held an event with Scholten on farm issues on Monday, and Sen. Bernie Sanders will spend a weekend on the trail with him soon. Sanders’s fellow Vermonter Ben Cohen just named a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor after the candidate, though it was an odd choice for a pitcher: “Joltin’ Scholten’s Grand Slam Home Run.”

National Democrats have mostly focused on suburban, well-educated districts that have grown disenchanted with Donald Trump’s GOP. But flippable voters also exist in farm country — including in Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — which Democrats have ignored for decades. In fact, rural America presents unique opportunities for populists. Rampant consolidation of seed and livestock producers threatened independent farmers even before Trump led the country into dubious trade wars. As good jobs and entrepreneurs scatter to the coasts, rural Iowa has been left a depopulated shell. Scholten focuses on this issue, and it’s turned heads among restless independents and Republicans.

“I think he has a puncher’s chance,” said Doug Burns of the Carroll Daily Times Herald, a small newspaper in the district. “Howard Dean had his 50-state strategy and it worked. Scholten has a 39-county strategy.”

Scholten is a native son, born in Ames and raised in Sioux City. His family has agricultural roots – one grandfather sold seeds, and the other farmed a plot near Lake Mills that remains in the family. But as the son of a baseball coach, sports became J.D.’s early passion.

He pitched in the College World Series at the University of Nebraska and then bumped around independent leagues in seven countries, from his hometown Sioux City Explorers to teams in Germany, Belgium, and France. On a barnstorming tour in Cuba, he gave up a ground single to Yasmany Tomas, who would later star for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I loved the strategy side of baseball,” Scholten said. “I’m new to a lot of things when it comes to politics, but strategically I think I have an advantage.” Plus, the grind of the minor leagues prepared him well for life in a Winnebago.

After baseball, Scholten worked as a paralegal in Minneapolis and Seattle. He tells a story at town halls about spending the aftermath of the 2016 election at the retirement home of his Grandma Fern, who urged him to come back to Iowa. She died a month later, and Scholten made up his mind to heed her call. But he couldn’t find any job in the local paper that paid more than $15 an hour with no benefits. “I had my 20th high school reunion, and the kids I grew up with were all doing amazing things but not doing them here,” he said. “I want to work on creating a new rural economy.”

With two opponents in the June primary, the neophyte politician had to devise a game plan. He looked to his two political heroes: retired Senator Tom Harkin, and Berkley Bedell, a Class of ‘74 House member who represented northwest Iowa for six terms until 1986. He was the last Democrat to hold a seat in this region. “Berkley Bedell would win Sioux County, which since then has never voted for a Democrat for president with more than 22 percent,” Scholten said. Bedell, now 97, offered to campaign with Scholten in the district before his medical minders thought better of it.

It paid off with 51 percent of the vote in the primary. “Democrats have to get back to that model of showing up and listening and letting people know you care,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, the first member of Congress to endorse Scholten. “Most people vote for someone because they feel they can trust them.”

“He’s using rural newspapers in a way I haven’t seen from a congressional candidate in my career,” said the Carroll Daily Times Herald’s Doug Burns. “The only person who did anything similar is Senator Sanders, he was highly visible in local papers.” Sanders battled to a tie in the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

Scholten has also focused on yard signs. In small towns where everyone knows one another – the “farmer’s wave,” which consists of raising an index finger off the steering wheel as a car passes, separates locals from outsiders – a yard sign in front of the house can act as an invitation from a neighbor that it’s OK to support a Democrat. “It’s like old-fashioned social media,” said Rob Sand, the Democratic candidate for Iowa state Treasurer. Scholten claims that his campaign is running even with King on yard signs in the rural areas, and if you add in Sioux City and Ames, two more relatively liberal cities, they’re crushing him. This bore out on my travels across the district; I didn’t see a single King sign.

Unlike the A’s against the Yankees, Scholten has more money than King. While his $776,000 in receipts through June ranks lower than the million-dollar fundraisers among 2018 Democratic House candidates, it’s over $250,000 more than King, and unlike King, Scholten doesn’t take corporate PAC money. Among individual donors, Scholten’s outraised King 2:1, and he expects to double his total haul to $1.5 million by the end of the campaign.

Dickinson County Democratic chair Harold Prior highlighted a moment at the Spirit Lake town hall that sums up Scholten’s approach. A Republican constituent active in local politics asked about immigration, and after Scholten answered, kept pressing with follow-ups.

“I have been a life-long Republican but I am unable to vote for Steve King who is well known for his racist views and truly is an embarrassment to our state,” wrote Raymond Beebe in the Forest City Summit.

Nicole Baart, an author and pastor’s wife who once ran Northwest Iowa Right to Life, wrote to her paper, “I’m grateful to have found a candidate… that allows me to vote my values without feeling like I have to turn a blind eye to questionable morality, angry and offensive rhetoric, or racism.” David Johnson, a state Senator who left the Republican Party to protest Trump and now serves as an independent, has also gotten behind Scholten. “We can’t make the 4th district an island of white men,” he told me in Spencer.

One local activist, Allison Engel, borrowed these lines for a one-act play she wrote about King’s ancestors from Germany, informed by genealogical records. In the play, King’s forbears recoil while witnessing the Congressman’s xenophobic rhetoric, accusing him of forgetting where he came from. For example, though King is a leader of the English-only movement, his own statements reveal that his grandparents likely spoke German for decades while living in Iowa. “Meet Steve King’s Ancestors” has been performed with local actors at three fundraisers for Scholten.

“We’re celebrating his ancestors,” Engel told me. “They endured hard times and thrived. It’s everyone’s story.”

But even more hypocritical than King’s criticism of immigrants, when he is a typical American child of immigrants, is the fact that his district increasingly relies on immigrant, and often undocumented, labor.

At Woodbury County’s Harry Hopkins dinner in Sioux City, held in a Carpenter’s Union hall, the mood was upbeat. “I can honestly say that [Scholten] is the best candidate we’ve had in a long time,” said the county party chair, Jeremy Dumkrieger, to attendees. “He’s a reason to vote for something, not just a name to throw out Steve King.” Rep. Ryan added another selling point: as a former pitcher, he’d be a real ringer in the congressional baseball game.

Any Iowa Democrat running for Congress before a presidential year would attract support from would-be presidential candidates; Scholten has events with Julian Castro and Sanders lined up along with the Booker event Monday, and others have offered staff support. But they may be feeling the energy in the district, and the chance to unseat one of the country’s more notorious conservative bomb-throwers. To Scholten, it’s all about showing up in Sioux City Sue, one county and one voter at a time.[5]

References