IA-04: Scholten is in, Feenstra warns Republicans

J.D. Scholten launched his second campaign for Congress today with a video emphasizing his connection to the land, the people, and the values of Iowa’s fourth district.

U.S. Representative Steve King’s leading Republican challenger reacted with a warning: the GOP could lose this seat with King on the ballot again.

In this unusual and striking campaign video, Scholten does not speak, nor does the narrator say his name, describe his background, or remind viewers what office he is seeking. Rather, the goal is to convey the atmosphere of rural and small-town Iowa.

My transcript of the script (read slowly by a man Kevin Costner–whose voice I somehow failed to recognize–with subdued music in the background):

It is here. Among the rolling hills, along the endless road, in the wind.

It’s in the dirt and the mud and the soil. In our callused hands, their gentle touch. The sense of who we are.

It is here in the fields and in the seed, amongst the cattle, the machine. In our towns and our homes, our blessings and our troubles.

In the elders, who know too much. In our children, who know too little.

It is here. Our virtues, passed down through the seasons, sowed in the earth from long ago, grown and nurtured and tended to.

It is here. Rooted within us. Within him.

Scholten appears on screen only for about 20 seconds near the end. Unlike new Congressional candidates, who need to introduce themselves to voters, Scholten is already widely known. Not only did he campaign multiple times in every IA-04 county during 2017 and 2018, he has spoken at events in many communities since then as state director for Working Hero Iowa.

Bleeding Heartland discussed here what would need to happen for Scholten to win this district, where the latest official figures show about 70,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats live in the 39 IA-04 counties. The first key element: King winning the GOP nomination again.

On that note, State Senator Randy Feenstra released the following statement on August 5.

“Two years ago, Congressman Steve King almost handed Iowa’s 4th Congressional district to Nancy Pelosi when liberal Democrat J.D. Scholten nearly won. King’s performance last year was one reason I decided to run for Congress. The families of Iowa’s 4th District deserve an effective conservative leader who can win and ensure our voice and our values are represented in Congress. Today’s announcement that Scholten will again seek the seat further highlights the need for Iowa Republicans to nominate an effective conservative that will win in November. Our campaign has earned the support of conservative activists, elected officials and leaders across Iowa and all over America because they know I am an effective conservative that will win in November and ensure President Trump’s agenda is advanced in Congress.”

Feenstra has dominated Congressman King in fundraising since announcing his candidacy, currently holding an 18-to-1 cash on hand advantage. Feenstra has received financial support from former Governor Terry Brastad and was recently endorsed by Iowa conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats.

There’s no question, King underperformed in 2018, and that’s the main reason quite a few prominent Iowa Republicans have endorsed Feenstra, most recently Vander Plaats. King must be one of the worst fundraisers among long-serving members of Congress, and his campaign spent as much as it took in during the second quarter.

I still believe Feenstra faces an uphill battle in the GOP primary, especially if Jeremy Taylor and Bret Richards can’t be dissuaded from filing nominating papers next March. But electability is Feenstra’s strongest card, so I expect Republican voters will hear much more about candidate King’s weaknesses over the next ten months.

Any comments about the IA-04 race are welcome in this thread, including thoughts about how Scholten could get to a win number.

Scholten: website, Facebook, Twitter
King: website, Facebook, Twitter
Feenstra: website, Facebook, Twitter
Taylor: website, Facebook, Twitter
Richards: website, Facebook, Twitter

UPDATE: Taylor sent a strong signal on the evening of August 5 that he has no plans to withdraw from the race.

Top image: Screen shot from the final moments of J.D. Scholten’s 2020 campaign launch video.

  • Not a chance 2

    Nice spot, keeps the focus off JD. Kings team should point out the story line describes him, not Scholten. J.D.s weak spot is his lack of any real accomplishment in life. Not much really for rural voters to identify with. No family, unusual for a middle aged man, no experience as an office holder of any kind, spotty job history, positions out of sync with 4th district voters.

    That said, he could beat King. The only one who doesn’t realize King is done is King. Feenstra will beat J.D. like a red headed step-child.

    • Feenstra has never faced an opponent

      in any election. I question whether he has the political skills to beat King in the primary, even with a lot of establishment support.

  • There are tens of thousands of Democrats in the Fourth District...

    …and half the population in the Fourth District is officially classified as urban. I hope that will be remembered occasionally by media in the months ahead. Outnumbered doesn’t mean absent.

  • Scholten landslide (if vs King)

    Scholten would definitely beat King. And the earlier commenter is correct that King doesn’t realize it. Scholten ran a great campaign last year, and in order to win he should (maybe he already did) study Berkley Bedell. A moderate Dem who won many elections in western Iowa and was known for remarkable constituent service.

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