October 30, 2018

Former minor league baseball player J.D. Scholten, a Sioux Citian whose life is full of connections to western and central Iowa, is eager and charismatic and creative.

We find Scholten to be more an open-minded listener than a Twitter maven or partisan provocateur. What’s more, he has the courage to admit what most of us should know about ourselves: he has as many questions as answers. That’s rare in a politics of cocksure cable TV posturing and mean-spirited online bullying.

Yes, Scholten is a Democrat true and blue, but he doesn’t present as unbendingly ideological or engage in the sort of condescending cultural commentary that so often sinks other members of his party.

We see Scholten as a true representative in its pure form, one based aggressive canvassing of the sweeping, 39-county 4th District as he’s placed himself in front of town halls populated with critics and people with unpredictable questions. That should still count for something.

Scholten’s focus is nuts and bolts — rural economic development and agriculture, the essential work of a congressman from this district. We see him as a local advocate rural Iowa needs, which is why we endorse him in the 4th District Congressional race.

We’ve challenged Congressman Steve King’s controversial comments in opinion pieces published over much of the last two decades. That considered, King has always given this newspaper access and we respect him for that — and like him personally. But his time management is a concern.

Do we really want a congressman who takes the time to weigh in on mayoral races in Toronto as King recently did? Or to use Facebook to traffic in jokes about sexual harassment or post this: “Even school kids know … a person not loyal to his country is a Democrat.”?

King, who is indisputably a hard worker to the point that he feels guilty for taking time off even for part of an evening, something we talked to him about and admire, nevertheless has a finite amount of time — and that holds true for his staff, too. There are surely better ways to use it than suggesting roughly half the population of the United States is not loyal to the United States — something we know King doesn’t actually believe as he calls liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich a good friend with a wife King describes as “brilliant.”

King’s political model is built on exploiting growing divisions even though he is personally engaging — a confusing approach we’ve always felt was a an enormous missed opportunity for King.

Meanwhile, Scholten considers himself something of a bridge between different groups of people.

“Growing up, I had a lot of friends who were artistic, and I was kind of the jock in that group, and to my jock friends I was kind of the artistic kid, so I was always this middle line,” Scholten told us. “I was this bridge between the groups. I saw this when I was playing baseball. Anytime there were groups in the locker room, like the California boys, the good ol’ Texas boys, the Latinos — anytime there was an issue, I was kind of the bridge between the groups. It’s a natural thing I’m good at. I feel I could be a very good bridge for this district, whether it’s rural-urban, whether it’s generationally.”

Scholten is not going to pull off one of the biggest upsets nationally on Nov. 6 without the support of many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. So here’s the Scholten case for Republicans: Scholten is more practical than ideological and could serve as something of a one-term palate cleanser for the district, allowing for a 2020 congressional race here with a fresh Republican, someone who has not served for 16 years like King and takes a more measured — but still conservative — approach, much like Republican Congressman David Young from south-central Iowa, whom we also endorsed on these pages today.