Hey, Sioux City Sue, you gonna vote big and blue?
J.D. Scholten brought a little Bing Crosby and Gene Autry to his campaign for Congress in Iowa.
Scholten, 38, a former Minor League baseball player, is barnstorming the 39 counties in the district in a 2015 Winnebago he has affectionately named Sioux City Sue — a nod to his roots and an ode to the golden oldie country music standard Autry and Crosby made famous in the 1940s.
I drove a herd of cattle down from old Nebraska way
That’s how I come to be in the state of Iowa
I met a gal in Iowa, her eyes were big and blue
I asked her what her name was, she said, Sioux City Sue
“When you are a kid growing up in Sioux City, you have to learn it in elementary school,” Scholten said in an interview inside the RV. “My vision from Day 1 was to get a used Winnebago, throw the logo on the side and be non stop. Because of the success in fundraising I was able to get a newer model.”
Scholten said he’s modeling much of his campaign on those of former Congressman Berkley Bedell and former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, both Democrats who performed well in rural, western Iowa.
“If you just run TV ads you’re not going to win voters over,” Scholten said. “You’ve got to get out to the people, show you’re trustworthy, prove that you will fight for the people of your district. To me, that’s how you win people’s votes.”
Scholten said he’s better prepared to reach independent and Republican voters in November than his two primary Democratic opponents, Spencer City Councilwoman Leann Jacobsen and Ames physician Dr. John Paschen.
“People know me more, at least around Sioux City and a lot of places in this district, for baseball than they do for any political thing I stand for, and I think there is just that level of trust that is really lacking in politics,” Scholten said.
What’s more, Scholten said he 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 said. “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 said health care is his No. 1 issue.
He wants to see a public option right away and Medicare extended to people as young as 55. Longer term, he supports a Medicare-for-all system.
A single-payer system would involve a public-financed entity covering heath-care costs that are delivered through private or nonprofit providers. It’s often called “Medicare for all.” Under a public option, a government-run health-insurance operation would compete with private insurers, giving patients an “option” to use public or private carriers.
Scholten also supports increasing the minimum wage and wants it tied to housing costs.
“Does it make sense to have $15 an hour in Audubon and $15 an hour in Washington, D.C.?” Scholten said. “Maybe not. But we need to have that discussion of raising the minimum wage and why it’s important to raise the minimum wage.”