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Businessman enters 2014 Iowa GOP Senate race

Nov 19, 2013

DES MOINES (AP) — Former energy company executive Mark Jacobs said Tuesday that he will run as a Republican for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014.

Jacobs, 51, announced his plans at a news conference at a Des Moines-based business supply company founded and run by his family.

The former chief executive officer of Texas-based Reliant Energy said that as a senator, he’d focus on job creation and economic development.

“The Iowa values that brought me success in the business world now compel me to enter the political world. Washington needs an infusion of common sense. Leadership instead of brinksmanship,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs plans a 26-city tour of Iowa to kick off his campaign.

He joins a crowded GOP competition for the seat. Other Republicans seeking to succeed retiring Democrat Tom Harkin include radio host Sam Clovis, state Sen. Joni Ernst, lawyer Paul Lunde, former car salesman Scott Schaben, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker and former Senate aide David Young.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo is the only Democrat in the running.

An Iowa native, Jacobs moved his family to his home state last year, settling in West Des Moines and founding an education nonprofit. He has spent the past few months attending county events and meeting with voters as he explored a run. He is backed by some business-focused Republicans, including Des Moines lawyer Doug Gross.

So far, no clear leader has emerged in the crowded GOP Senate field. But Jacobs has a business background and personal wealth that could make him a serious candidate. He did not directly answer questions about how much of his own money he would put into the campaign, saying he planned to aggressively fundraise.

Jacobs said he thought his message of job creation would resonate with Iowa residents. Asked how he would respond to potential criticism over the fact that he has spent most of his adult life outside Iowa, he said he was focusing on a positive message and giving back to his home state.

“I’ve had the great benefit of growing up in the state and it’s a great privilege for me to be back in Iowa, giving back to the state that I love so much,” Jacobs said.

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