Campaign season hits full stride
by Conrad Bascom
Lake Mills Graphic
On Sunday, Sept. 23 and Monday, Sept. 24, two separate campaigns for national office stopped off at Waldorf University’s Salveson Ballroom in Forest City to make their respective pitches to the public.
First up was Andrew Yang—early-bird and progressive candidate vying for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020—who made a return visit to Northern Iowa after his inclusion in 2018’s 15th Annual Democratic Wing-Ding Dinner at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. I interviewed Yang and wrote extensively about his speech at the Wing Ding on Aug. 10, so I won’t delve too much into his proposed policies here, beyond reminding readers of the centerpiece of his platform: a proposal to institute a Universal Basic Income program dubbed the “Freedom Dividend” that would divvy out $1,000 a month to every citizen regardless of class, race, employment status, sex, and orientation. Andrew Yang conversed openly with the intimate and attentive group of attendees and demonstrated a wealth of policy ideas and real-world solutions for the problems of a future we’ll soon be facing.
J.D. Scholten—incumbent Rep. Steve King’s challenger to the left—exhibited more than his fair share of savviness for the Town-Hall-game at Salveson Ballroom on Monday, as he displayed an affability and ease with his supporters and potential constituents, that many politicians simply do not possess. His performance was greatly improved from his slightly-frayed and jittery speech at the Wing Ding Dinner in August—and he seemed less the darling-of-the-press first timer and more the seasoned campaigner on this occasion.
At one point, Scholten responded with aplomb to ex-Republican State Senator Dave Readinger’s imploration that he go after Rep. Steve King more, both indulging Readinger while still sticking to his guns to not name-call: “What I’m frustrated with is why is he going to Austria five out of the last six years, spending tax payer money? He spends more money on international travel, than all of the other Iowa delegates combined, including both Senators. So, he’s doing all this travel, but is it bettering the Fourth District in trade or in health care? Absolutely not.”
After responding to Readinger’s question, he ended with a laugh line that elicited an uproar of laughter: “Church was yesterday, Dave, so I’m not here to preach . . . but that’s the biggest struggle of this campaign—to let people know who he is.”
It’s apparent that Scholten’s preaching is resonating on multiple sides of the aisle, as Dave Readinger wasn’t the only longtime Republican from Forest City present on Monday and pledging their support to the upstart candidate. On Monday, recent polling from Washington, D.C. based Expedition Strategies shows King with a slim lead of six-points—vulnerable and practically within the margin of error—seemed to be telling the truth. The race is on in the 4th District, and Scholten is covering every county time and again in his trusty Winnebago RV “Sioux City Sue.” Rep. Steve King, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen.