SIOUX CITY | People trickled in to see John Paschen at a Sioux City coffee shop Tuesday, taking the opportunity to meet the Ames pediatrician who wants to represent Iowa's 4th Congressional District.
Paschen, the fourth Democrat to enter the 2018 race to unseat Republican Rep. Steve King, didn't draw a large crowd at a meet-and-greet at Pierce Street Coffee Works in downtown Sioux City. He sandwiched the stop around a campaign kickoff in the morning in Ames and another later in Storm Lake.
Most of the time, he sat at a table with four people, who wanted to have Paschen air thoughts on gun control, immigration and how to not let the outspoken King run on wedge issues again.
Jackie Stellish told Paschen he will need to connect in the 4th District's wide swath of rural counties, outside his home in Story County, home to Ames and Iowa State University. Paschen said he is ready to do that, noting that conservatives he speaks with eventually move to the desire to have term limits.
"They come to issues we can agree on...This is a big rural district and I want to talk to a lot of farmers," Paschen said.
A relative unknown who has not run for elective office before, he felt moved to become a candidate due to inaction on major issues such affordable health care.
Paschen also is no fan of King. Paschen said the entrenched incumbent is more concerned with television air time than results for Iowans.
The growing Democratic field also includes LeAnn Jacobsen, a first-term Spencer City Council member, J.D. Scholten, a former professional baseball player and Sioux City native, and Paul Dahl, a bus driver from Webster City.
Paschen, 57, is a pediatrician at the McFarland Clinic in Ames. He graduated from Camanche (Iowa) High School after moving from Illinois in middle school. He has degrees from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.
Paschen said he supports immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented people living in the U.S. He said it is time for federal lawmakers to adopt "a common sense approach that is compassionate and fair."
"The immigrant people are the best patients I have...They are religious. They are good, good people," he said.
Paschen said he supports abortion rights, while wanting accompanying sound access to birth control options, in order to reduce teen pregnancy rates.
Those who attended Tuesday afternoon's event in Sioux City also were concerned about the largest mass shooting in U.S. history from Sunday. That's when a lone gunman fired machine gun-like rounds from the 32nd floor of a hotel window down at an outdoor country music concert in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 concert-goers and wounding more than 520 others before turning a gun on himself.
Paschen said the National Rifle Association has strong political clout to fend off gun control measures. He said the focus should be on achievable changes to gun laws, such as gun registration, which he contended polls show rank-and-file NRA members support.