Death threats forced one candidate out of the race to unseat Rep. Steve King. But Democrats haven't give up, and they have a new challenger ready to take up the fight.
In June, Iowa Democrats suffered a blow in their hopes to defeat notorious GOP Rep. Steve King, when their rising star Kim Weaver withdrew her candidacy after receiving harassment and death threats from King's supporters.
Adding to the insult, King not only refused to condemn the threats — he accused Weaver of making them up.
But Democrats in Iowa's 4th Congressional District are not giving up.
This week, J.D. Scholten, a paralegal and former independent league baseball player from Sioux City, announced he is mounting his own campaign against King.
A longtime Democratic activist who has volunteered on numerous campaigns, Scholten is in many ways picking up where Weaver left off. In fact, Weaver endorsed him, gave him her chief campaign strategist, and urged her supporters to donate to him.
Scholten is also carrying on many of Weaver's campaign themes, including her calls to protect and expand health care for the poor and restore civility to politics, as articulated in his passionate email to former supporters of Weaver:
I’m running for Congress because the 4th District deserves someone who truly represents the people of this district. Like most Americans, I am sick and tired of how divisive politics in this country has become, and how divorced it is from people’s lives. I was raised to believe that hard work, civility, and community are the values we should all aspire to, and I’m committed to bringing the same values and a new energy to this campaign. The 4th needs a voice that cares more about building our district’s future than it does about dividing us apart.
And he wrote powerfully about "Iowa values" from a Democratic perspective, challenging the usual red state characterization:
Our government is supposed to work for the people that live in this district, not for special interests and the privileged elite. I want to put Iowa values back at the center of public service, create new opportunities for Iowa’s middle class, and ensure that Iowans never again need to worry about healthcare as a barrier to living free, productive, and successful lives.
Some right-wing voters in Iowa's 4th District may have tried to drag politics into the gutter, as evidenced by the treatment of Weaver. But their voices are not the majority, and Democrats like Scholten refuse to let hate and division win the day.
Scholten's candidacy is not only a chance for Democrats to articulate a better vision for the country. It is a chance to stop people like King from setting the tone, and to elevate the dignity of politics back to a level that will serve all Americans.