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Senate Candidate Mark Jacobs

Mark Jacobs has led the kind of life that would fit nicely into a book of capitalist stories for children.

Retired at age 52, he’s a millionaire several times over who made his money on Wall Street and then in the rough-and-tumble Texas energy industry.

Now, after returning to the state he was raised in, Jacobs has his sights on the Senate seat being given up by one of last the prairie populists in Congress, Tom Harkin.

“I’m very much personally invested in this,” Jacobs said. “I’m doing this because I love the state of Iowa, I love this country. I’m very concerned we’re on the wrong track.”

The ex-CEO and CFO of Reliant Energy hit the Iowa political radar in October 2012 when he made 25 $1,000 donations to 25 Republicans seeking General Assembly spots in the 2012 elections.

His privately funded nonprofit “Reaching Higher Iowa” education advocacy group also gave him an avenue to reach voters across the state without having to declare a candidacy officially. Since then, he has cut checks to party committees across the state.

But most of Jacobs’ contributions — $1.6 million of $2.3 million as of March 31, according to the Federal Election Commission — have gone to his campaign for the U.S. Senate. He’s self-financed more than any of his other primary opponents — Matt Whitaker, Joni Ernst, Scott Schaben and Sam Clovis — have been able to raise in total. He also is self-financed a larger percentage of his campaign than any of his opponents.

With less than a month to go before the June primary, Jacobs is in a dead heat atop the polls with Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak. The three other candidates have, so far, failed to pose any serious threat.

Jacobs often talks about his business experience as the qualification that sets him apart from his opponents and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Bruce Braley.

“What I like about him is he talks about the economy and economic issues, which is what I think what the Republican Party should be about,” said Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage, a Jacobs supporter. “He leaves the social issues out of it.”

In describing his political philosophy, Jacobs paraphrases Abraham Lincoln: “The government ought only to do what others can’t do, but what it does, it ought to do well.”

He said states should take the leading role in education policy and is against the Common Core, a set of standards developed by the National Governor’s Association that establishes grade-level benchmarks.

“I don’t see much of a role for the federal government,” he said.

He said government should be involved in creating a market for ethanol through the Renewable Fuel Standard but government shouldn’t offer “subsidies in perpetuity” to industries. The production tax credit, which provides a corporate tax cut of 2.3-cents for every kilowatt hour produced by a wind turbine and is credited with the helping boost the wind industry, should be allowed to expire, Jacobs said.

“It’s an appropriate conversation for us to have, of when that should expire,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s today or next year or in five years, but that’s the right conversation for us to have.”

from the Quad-City Times

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