Caucus day: Get to know 4th District congressional candidates

Congressman Steve King speaks at the end of the Roast and Ride fundraiser June 3, 2017, in Boone, Iowa.

Isd Staff

Caucuses give the voters a chance to get the facts, make a decision and decide who they would want to represent them.

One Republican and four Democrats look to replace 15-year incubent Rep. Steve King. Come Monday, it’s up to the voter to decide who will be the Republican and Democratic candidate for the 2018 race for the 4th District congressional seat. 

Before Caucus day begins, read about each of the candidates. 


Rep. Steve King (Incumbent) 

King, 68, has held the 4th District U.S. Congressional chair since 2003 after holding a seat in the Iowa State Senate from 1996 to 2002. 

King currently serves on the following committees, according to Ballotpedia: 

King came to Ames last November to update members on his activities in Washington D.C. and answer questions.

King spoke of his belief that the tax plan will bring money and corporations back from overseas by cutting the corporate tax by 15 percent, saying it is the most important portion of the bill. He also said lowering taxes on money brought to the U.S. that is currently being held in foreign nations will lower tax rates.

The tax plan has been heavily criticized for the majority of benefits being received by the wealthiest in the U.S. According to the Tax Policy Center, 50 percent of the benefits from the tax bill will go the the wealthiest one percent of the nation by 2027.

Pertinent to Iowans was the Farm Bill that King is involved with that he says will lessen the “regulatory burden” placed on farms. He focused specifically on the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act” that he introduced and relied heavily on an anecdote about cage size requirements for laying hens in California.

“California, for example, is regulating cage size for laying hens in Iowa. They passed a referendum there, you know how they do things in California, they get something on the ballot and then it doesn’t have to be logical but now it’s their constitution. But the referendum required that they double the cage sizes for laying hens in California,” King said.

King noted if California wants to enact that regulation in California, he has no problem with it. A regulation was also passed stating eggs sold in California, even if imported from other states, have to follow the same rules for cage sizes.

Cyndi Hanson

Cyndi Hanson is the only other Republican to oppose Sen. Steve King in the race the 4th District congressional seat. Hanson’s campaign website describes her as an authentic Iowan with “less politics and more action.” 

Under a section titled “What matters most,” Hanson listed ending career politicians, agriculture and fiscal responsibility. 

The first priority refers to her Republican opponent King who has held the seat since 2003. 

“The political posturing, divisive rhetoric and refusal to collaborate have become standard operating procedure for the career politicians in Washington,” Hanson’s website states. “Our current Representative has forgotten who he represents.”

She also believes it is important that Iowans need a representative who supports agriculture, something King also focusses on. Though, not all of the Democratic candidates list this as a priority. 

Her last main point is fiscal responsible listing the importance of moving toward a balanced budget by reducing subsidies and entitlements while not raising taxes.


Paul Dahl

Democrat Paul Dahl has worked as a transit bus driver for Hamilton County since 2013. Dahl announced on Aug. 21 he would be switching gears to a third run for public office in the 2018 congressional race for Iowa’s 4th District.

Dahl, 53, is the third Democratic candidate to announce a campaign against eight-term U.S. Representative Steve King. 

“King is fostering division,” Dahl said. “We need to unify where we can, even when there are differences.”

Dahl’s campaign centers around restoring the vitality of the middle class. His strategy for doing that includes raising the minimum wage to $15.

To achieve that, Dahl said corporate income tax would need to be abolished. He would also reform the federal tax code to make it shorter and less dense, as he feels its density opens the doors for corporate tax loop-holes. 

In regard to education costs, Dahl said universities are potentially paying their employees “more than they should.” He referenced University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz’s $4 million salary as an example. 

“We need to have (college) faculty focus on education and not research,” Dahl said. “I think some of them focus on research so much that they don’t do the teaching. Research is important, but we need to look at what the focus should be.” 

Leann Jacobsen

Leann Jacobsen is running for Congress in Iowa’s 4th District, hoping to stand up for Iowa’s struggling rural communities and to help revitalize them.

Jacobsen decided to run out of a deep appreciation and love for small town Iowa. After moving to Spencer, Iowa eight years ago, Jacobsen said she fell in love with the scenery and the people.

“I love small town life and the absolute beauty of the area,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen is going forward with her bipartisan message of “people over politics.” What she means by this is setting aside partisan politics and focusing on giving the people of Iowa what they need.

“If there’s a good idea, I don’t think it matters whose idea it is,” Jacobsen said.

When it comes to her Republican opponent, she feels this area is exactly where King falls short.

As a businesswoman herself, she feels government should be doing more to ensure quality of life for the nation’s workforce in order to provide a well-educated, healthy labor force.

One way Jacobsen would like to see this done is by improving healthcare in the U.S. She would like to see a system where healthcare is treated as a right and not a privilege for those who can afford it. She also feels completely scrapping the ACA, or Obamacare, is not a good way forward.

John Paschen

John Paschen is a Democrat running for Congress because he has a “Paschen” for Iowa.

His main priority is affordable health care, but beyond that, he said he is prioritizing action in Washington.

“[My main goal is] affordable healthcare yes, but also just getting Washington to do their job,” Paschen said. 

Paschen also spoke critically about Republican officials using the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, as leverage for the wall. 

“They’ve given temporary funding to [CHIP], but nothing permanent. CHIP has always been bipartisan. Up to this point, everyone has always passed CHIP,” Paschen said. “Now all of a sudden this year, it’s being held up. They’re saying we’ll pass CHIP if you do the wall. At what point is our children’s health negotiable?”

He is also against the Republican tax reform plan, stating it is poorly written and the only ‘accomplishment’ of the Republican Party while having a majority of the House, Senate and inhabiting the White House.

“[The tax reform] was hastily written, it took away a lot of people’s individual abilities to deduct, cut the corporate tax rates,” Paschen said. “I feel it was purely a tax cut for the 1 percent.” 

J.D. Scholten  

J.D. Scholten, 37, former Sioux City baseball player, is a freelance litigation paralegal running for congress as a democrat against long time U.S. Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th District.

The campaign will be Scholten’s first run for public office. Scholten said he will rely on the competitive spirit he garnered through years of athletics to push through what he dubbed “an uphill battle.”

“I wasn’t a very good baseball player, but I played for a long time because I outworked people,” Scholten said. “It’s an uphill battle because I’ve never run for office before. Being competitive means being diligent in everything I do.”

Scholten is strongly pro-choice. He cited a study that presented abortions at an all time low before federal cuts to Planned Parenthood.

He said rural communities are struggling with providing adequate health care in general.

“We’re going to have a huge shortage of doctors in rural areas. That’s very serious,” Scholten said.

Scholten also said undocumented immigrants have been important contributors to Western Iowa. If elected, Scholten said he would seek a more “common sense” approach to immigration reform.

In terms of education, Scholten said his main focus would be reducing student debt. He said he would develop a crossroads between educators and employers in an effort to establish a vision for future generations.

“We’re going to see a change in the economy,” Scholten said. “We can’t continue to let people come out of college with great debts and expect them to find great jobs right away.”