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Senate Candidate Scott Schaben

Of the five candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat, Scott Schaben typically comes in fifth.

He’s fifth in fundraising.

He’s fifth in the polls.

Given this, Schaben figures he might come in fifth when the votes for the Republican primary are counted, too.

But Iowa election law gives party delegations the power to select its nominee if no candidate gets 35 percent of the vote or more. The votes are held at party conventions after the election.

This is where Schaben, a 39-year-old former sales manager from Ames making his first run at office, thinks he has a shot.

“Whoever wins this primary, they become the answer to the question of ‘Where does the Republican Party of Iowa want to go in the future?’” Schaben said over a cup of coffee in a downtown Des Moines java house a few blocks from the Iowa Capitol. “And it’s such an important question, that question should be answered by the core of the party. So having that answered by the 2,000 most active members of the party will give you a more precise answer.”

Chris Larimer, a political science professor at the University of Northern Iowa, said it would be difficult for a relatively unknown candidate to pull off a convention win.

“Conventional wisdom is established candidates, someone who is well known to those folks who are involved in the party, do well at convention,” he said.

But Schaben said his message of practical conservatism makes him an excellent standard-bearer for the Iowa GOP.

He’s an anti-abortion, pro-2nd Amendment Republican who said he “doesn’t care what people do in their bedrooms” when asked about same-sex marriage.

A Navy veteran, Schaben said he’s not yet qualified to say whether the U.S. has handled Russian movements in the Ukraine correctly because he hasn’t seen the classified briefings. He said federal ethanol subsidies should exist as long as oil companies receive tax breaks. And much of the domestic spying program that came to light from the disclosures by Edward Snowden and others could be “a violation of the 4th Amendment.”

He defines himself as much by what he’s not — a millionaire, a career politician — as he does by what he is.

“I’m just your average guy,” he said. “Every day you open up your email or your Facebook, people are saying, ‘Why doesn’t somebody normal run?’ OK, well, now you got someone normal running.”

Given the chance to present in front the party regulars who would make up a nominating committee, Schaben said his “common-sense conservatism” and a rapport he has honed over years on the sales floor could deliver the day.

“None of the other candidates really match that level of customer service and that level of being able to empathize with such a large cross-section of society,” he said.

But even he acknowledges a lot of things have to line up just right, if he is going to be the Iowa GOP nominee.

“When I was first out on the campaign trail, I was received with a bit of skepticism,” he said. “But now those skeptics are giving second and third looks. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback.”

from the Quad-City Times

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