Campaigns

J.D. Scholten launches nonprofit amid speculation of Steve King rematch

Iowa Democrat narrowly lost to King in district Trump easily carried in 2016

Iowa Democrat J.D. Scholten said earlier this year that he would “need a few more months of work in” before deciding on his political future. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo).

Democrat J.D. Scholten is launching a new nonprofit to fight poverty, amid speculation that he’ll run for Iowa’s 4th District again after narrowly losing to controversial Republican Rep. Steve King last year.

Scholten announced Wednesday that he is launching “Working Hero Iowa,” a group aimed at educating and assisting Iowans who are eligible for the earned income tax credit.

“It’s the one time a year that they can actually pay their bills,” Scholten said of people who receive the credit. “Iowans are leaving millions of dollars on the table.”

Scholten said he plans to travel the state recruiting volunteers and raising awareness about the tax credit. He said his events will also include current and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

Scholten becomes the latest high-profile Democratic candidate to stay involved in politics after losing a race but raising millions in the 2018 campaign. He raised more than $3.3 million for his challenge to King, and his campaign had $148,000 on hand as of Nov. 26.

Scholten, a native of the 4th District in northwest Iowa, returned to the state in 2017 after playing professional baseball and working as a paralegal. He lost to King by just 3 points in a district President Donald Trump carried by 27 points in 2016. The result exposed King’s vulnerability, and he’s already drawn an early primary challenger, amid national attention over racist comments he made in a recent interview. The congressman received a rebuke from the House for his remarks and Republicans chose not to seat him on any committees. Several GOP leaders have also called on him to resign. 

It’s not clear yet if Scholten will make a second bid for the 4th District seat or if he will challenge GOP Sen. Joni Ernst, who is up for re-election next year. He told the Iowa Informer earlier this month that he would “need a few months of work in before I make that decision” on his next steps. 

Scholten did hint at a Senate run after GOP state Sen. Randy Feenstra announced he would challenge King in a primary. The Democrat then retweeted Iowa political reporter David Yepsen’s suggestion that Scholten might challenge Ernst instead of King in 2020. 

Also watch: Steve King — ‘I want to ask my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, let’s vote for this resolution’

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