The Daily Times Herald endorses J.D. Scholten in the Democratic primary for Iowa's 4th District congressional race. Scholten hopes to unseat Republican Steve King.
The Daily Times Herald endorses J.D. Scholten in the Democratic primary for Iowa's 4th District congressional race. Scholten hopes to unseat Republican Steve King.

May 21, 2018

The only way — based on hard math — for the 4th District congressional race to be anything other than the Steve King Bumper Crop Harvest Festival of Votes is for the Democrats to find a candidate who can appeal to Republicans and independents.

Sending a traditional liberal to face King, an instinctive political figure with a cat-quick wit (disarming and devastating, depending on the occasion) and deeply thought-out worldview, is almost cruel-and-unusual punishment — even for the way we do politics these days.

We’ve covered the three Democratic candidates in the 4th District, and based on the fundamental mechanics of American politics — messaging, fundraising and sheer energy — J.D. Scholten of Sioux City rises to the top of the Democratic field.

Western and central Iowans deserve a choice with a puncher’s chance of winning a general-election campaign against the force of nature that is Mr. King.

The Daily Times Herald today endorses J.D. Scholten in the 4th District Democratic primary.

A former minor league baseball player who stands 6-6, Scholten is eager and charismatic — and creative.

He’s 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 — like one of his primary opponents, Dr. John Paschen of Ames, who suggests much of rural Iowa is a “gun culture” in which county sheriffs should have power to prohibit handgun purchases.

Scholten’s fundraising totals and Twitter followers dwarf those of his two primary opponents. This matters. It shows a work ethic, mastery of the business of politics and viability in November.

What’s more, 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 in a recent interview. “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.”

It will take that kind of a natural personality to connect in a district that favors King.

On the issues, Scholten is a gradualist on health care, not a revolutionary pitching immediate upending of the system. At age 38, he’s still wired to the mindset of young people (one of the reasons he’s so strong on social media) and makes rural economic development and attracting people to Iowa central in his campaign.

Any Democrat in this field will face long odds in a race with Congressman King. But, that said, sure-thing political prognostication went out the window with the election of President Trump.

The Democrats’ best choice in the 4th District for the June 5 primary is J.D. Scholten — an upbeat young politician who presents an optimistic platform that could be attractive to Republicans and independents discontented with King’s long tenure and provocative statements