DES MOINES — J.D. Scholten has gotten phone calls from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. He’s campaigned with Sen. Cory Booker. He held a town hall with entrepreneur Andrew Yang and toured an ethanol plant with Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
The presidential candidates are eager to meet with Scholten, hoping he holds the key to a secret that increasingly bedevils Democrats: how to win rural voters, who seem to be firmly in President Trump’s camp. Scholten, a former minor-league baseball star, challenged GOP Rep. Steve King in Iowa last year, driving around in a beat-up motor home. He lost, but just barely, in a heavily conservative rural area.
Scholten tells Democrats the party is too focused on upscale urban voters. “We’re becoming the Whole Foods party, when we need to figure out how to win in Dollar General districts like mine,” Scholten said. “You don’t have to win, but you should be able to compete.”