The race for a Republican nominee for Iowa's seat in the U.S. Senate is still wide open.
The seat is being vacated by retiring five-term Democrat Tom Harkin. The only declared Democratic candidate is U.S. Representative Bruce Braley, however, there are five declared Republican candidates. Those candidates are radio host Sam Clovis, State Senator Joni Ernst, salesman Scott Schaben, former Senator Grassley Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker and Mark Jacobs, former CEO of Reliant Energy.
Jacobs spoke with KTVO Tuesday as one of his stops touring Iowa. Jacobs said this election is a winnable one for the Republican Party and what sets him apart from both his fellow Republican candidates and Representative Braley is his background in business.
"One of the things I'll be able to do is provide a clearer contrast with Congressman Braley," Jacobs said. "He's a career politician, somebody who has supported big government programs and it's very clear in the economic conditions that we have in this country today that those have not worked. I think we need somebody like me, who comes out of the business world, who understands what it's going to take to create that environment where we can get better paying jobs and also somebody who has had the opportunity to tackle a big fiscal mess. Washington is a disaster today and I've got some real-world experience in helping turn around a large, but financially troubled company."
Jacobs said he is the only candidate who has prepared a specific plan for how to create jobs in Iowa and in the country. Those specific steps include closing the skill gap by supporting community colleges and trade schools, developing energy resources, putting an end to federal regulations, creating a tax policy that encourages businesses to not outsource jobs overseas and repeal Obamacare.
In regard to education, Jacobs said there should be as little involvement on the federal level as possible, in order to keep policy-making a state and local issue.
"I think a role for the federal government to play in education, though, is supporting community colleges and vocational schools to make sure they have the right resources they need to provide that training," he said. "And also to provide a helping hand to those individuals who need it, who are trying to acquire new skills so that they can get a better paying job."
Jacobs' campaign received attention last week after he earned the endorsement of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
"He's somebody who, like me, views agriculture as a business and I think one of the things that attracted him to our candidacy is that I am a business guy," Jacobs said. "And it's very noteworthy as well, because this is the first time that Secretary Northey has ever endorsed a state-wide candidate in a primary."
Next, the Republican primary will be held on June 3. If no candidate wins more than 35 percent of the vote, the party's nominee will be decided at a statewide convention.