“There’s Nothing to Gain from a Debate,” Steve King Campaign Says

"Everyone already knows where the two candidates stand on the issues, so no debate is needed," the campaign said, contradicting what King himself told a reporter earlier this month

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Friday on Facebook, Steve King’s Facebook campaign page posted screenshots of an exchange (reposted in full below) it recently had with someone who contacted the page using the social media platform’s Messenger chat app to criticize King for refusing to debate his Democratic challenger in the 4th Congressional District, J.D. Scholten. “Truth be told, there’s nothing to gain from a debate,” the campaign told the man after he suggested the congressman was “scared” to debate Scholten.

The statement from the campaign (which hasn’t responded to questions from the Informer asking who runs its Facebook page) contradicts what King himself told Sioux City TV station KTIV earlier this month. “If there’s not a clear division on issues here, then, you know, if nobody’s criticizing the way I vote, then they just call names and I don’t think that’s a very good reason to have a debate,” he said then.

“Debate JD,” the Facebook user messaged King’s page, to which it replied, with the same arrogant and snarky condescension that’s characteristic of most of the page’s public posts, “Meh.” The user followed up by asking: “Why not? It honestly seems like your [sic] scared of him. That’s the vibe you guys are giving off hardcore.”

“Nah, that’s the vibe Lefties get, which honestly doesn’t matter,” Team King replied. “Truth be told, there’s nothing to gain from a debate. Our opponent is way behind in the polls and it’s not exactly like anyone is ‘undecided’ between the two candidates. Everyone already knows where the two candidates stand on the issues, so no debate is needed.”

An online poll conducted by Emerson College Sept. 6-8 showed King leading Scholten 41 to 31 percent. In mid-September, the Scholten campaign released an internal poll conducted by the Washington DC-based Expedition Strategies, which polled 380 likely voters from Sept. 5-9, showing King with a narrower 43 to 37 percent advantage. The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index gives the 4th District an R+11 rating — the same it gave to Pennsylvania’s 18th District, where Democrat Conor Lamb scored a major upset against Republican Rick Saccone for a vacant seat in a March special election.

Scholten challenged King to debate him in a YouTube video his campaign uploaded Sept. 7. In the video, Scholten stands on a basketball court holding a ball, challenges King by saying, “The ball’s in your court,” and then turns around and sinks a shot. A week later, the Sioux City Journal — which represents the largest city in the district — published an editorial calling on King to debate Scholten.

Here are the screenshots the King campaign posted of the recent exchange:










Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.