A Democrat appeals to conservative Republicans in farm country

In the heart of Iowa’s rural 4th district, Democratic hopeful J.D. Scholten is making a bid for conservative Republican Steve King’s congressional seat, appealing to farmer interests to win support for his campaign, according to FERN’s latest story, by Brian Barth, produced in collaboration with Mother Jones.

Scholten is currently the frontrunner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, and he has raised more money than all the candidates, including King. The incumbent, Barth writes, “is known less for views on farm policy than for his anti-immigrant rhetoric,” but that stance only goes so far in Iowa, where farmers are worried about falling incomes and becoming a casualty in mounting trade disputes with China.

“The success of the Scholten campaign, which has thus far thrived without the backing of the national party, hinges on whether it can draw independent and conservative-minded rural voters with progressive ideas that don’t threaten their bedrock values. If successful, it could even serve as a roadmap for bridging the urban-rural rift nationally,” Barth writes.

Though Scholten, a 38-year-old former baseball player, faces an uphill battle — the Cook political report rates the district as “safe” for Republicans — he has made inroads with farmers. Aside from trade and income, farmers express deep concern about the wave of mergers sweeping agroindustrial companies. “I would vote for a Democrat if it was the right person,” corn and soybean farmer Dan Chism, a fan of both Trump and King, is quoted as saying.

You can read the story at FERN or at Mother Jones.