Democratic candidates at Northwestern

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Michael Franken answers a question from a Northwestern College student as J.D. Scholten and Kimberly Graham listen at a candidate forum in the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center. Franken is one of four candidates seeking to challenge U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) in the 2020 election.

ORANGE CITY—Three Democratic candidates seeking to represent Iowa in Washington, D.C., made the case for progressive politics on Aug. 26 in Orange City.

U.S. House of Representatives candidate J.D. Scholten and U.S. Senate candidates Kimberly Graham and Michael Franken spoke to a crowd of about 150 people at a candidate forum in the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center at Northwestern College.

Scholten, who narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King in 2018, spoke of how his previous campaign was able to win over supporters by meeting them face to face.

“If you get out to the people, and you prove that you’re trustworthy and prove that you’re going to fight for the people, your district, you’re going to earn votes. And that’s what we did,” Scholten said.

“We got 25,000 more votes than there are Democrats in the 4th District,” he added.

For the 2020 election, he said his campaign will be similar to that of 2018 in terms of its policy agenda.

“It’s fix, fight and secure. We got to fix health care. We got to fight for an economy that works for all of us. And we need to secure our nation and our democracy,” he said.

Scholten called it unacceptable that in the world’s wealthiest country, people should have to turn to crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe to pay medical bills.

He also criticized national media and political pundits for only speaking of the economy in terms of the stock market and the unemployment rate instead of wage stagnation.

J.D. Scholten at Northwestern College

J.D. Scholten, who is again challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Steve King for Iowa’s 4th District, spoke to an audience of about 150 people on Aug. 26 at Northwestern College. 

Scholten closed by saying his goal is for all 4th District voters to be able to say one of three things on election night: They had either met him, seen his tour vehicle called “Sioux City Sue” or seen that his campaign had made a stop near where they live.

Graham and Franken, who will face off in a U.S. Senate primary that includes Eddie Mauro and Theresa Greenfield so far, also made a case for their candidacies.

A lawyer from Indianola, Graham explained she has worked 20 years advocating for vulnerable children in juvenile court.

“Those skills are eminently transferable to the United States Senate because, if I’m not in Washington standing up and fighting for you, then I have no reason to be here, in my opinion,” Graham said.

One of her main goals as senator would be to support campaign finance reform and limit the influence of money in politics. She ultimately hopes to create publicly funded elections to level the playing field for prospective candidates. Graham also hopes to address inequality in public school funding and the rising cost of health-care treatment as senator.

Franken took to the stage after Graham to roll out his campaign, which officially launched earlier that day. After playing his campaign’s announcement video for the audience, the retired U.S. Navy admiral spoke of his roots in Sioux County, having grown up near Sioux Center the youngest of nine kids.

He said he is running for U.S. Senate in the hopes of working across the political aisle on issues such as health care, climate change and foreign policy.

“Stop the unneeded wars of this country. Trim the defense budget where it needs to get trimmed. Work on quality of life, education, the panoply of things we can do,” Franken said.

The candidate forum was co-hosted by the Northwestern Campus Democrats, along with Democratic groups from Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Plymouth and Sioux County

Co-chair of the Campus Democrats Noah Karmann, a junior from Columbus, NE, said he was pleased with the turnout for the forum, noting about 20 Northwestern students attended.

Senior Erica Wasson was at the forum with her husband, Eric, who graduated from Northwestern in May. She said she appreciated the candidates’ willingness to reach voters of all political backgrounds.

“That’s something I’m really passionate about because I know so many people that are independents and Republicans and Democrats, and I don’t want like their label to define who they are, you know, make them seem like someone that can’t be talked to.”