The following is an analysis regarding the candidacy of Mark Jacobs for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. It is based on already published reports in The Iowa Republican (TIR), Caffeinated Thoughts, The Weekly Standard, and our own research. One may well disagree with our analysis but the basic facts informing our views have been reported elsewhere or are available for public reference.
Besides Jacobs, the list of Republicans seeking to be the nominee to go up against Democrat Bruce Braley to replace Tom Harkin includes:
Sam Clovis (R) – Radio Talk Show Host, Retired USAF Officer & College Dean
Joni Ernst (R) – State Sen., Ex-County Auditor & National Guard Officer
Paul Lunde (R) – Attorney & ’92 US Rep. Nominee
Scott Schaben (R) – Sales manager at a car dealership & Navy Veteran
Matt Whitaker (R) – Ex-US Attorney, & ’02 State Treasurer Nominee
For the record, we are looking forward to a conservative Republican wining the November general election and believe Sam Clovis will be best able to unify Republicans and defeat Bruce Braley.
Primary elections are focused on the politically involved, they are about determining who has demonstrated the heart, who has the best range of experience and who can project believability. Those are components of authenticity which we feel will determine who gets the conservative vote.
The Iowa Republican (TIR) posted an article Tuesday titled The State of Texas Plays a Major Role in Mark Jacobs U.S. Senate Campaign. Jacobs is a retired energy executive who left the state to go to college and developed a successful business career. He spent thirteen years in New York before leaving there to spend a decade or so in Houston, where he became CEO of an energy company, from which he retired. He only moved back to Iowa from Houston, Texas in August of 2012.
Tom Harkin officially announced that he would not seek reelection at the end of January of 2013. By April of 2013, after Congressman Steve King announced that he would not seek the senate seat, reports surfaced of various individuals actively expressing interest or pursuing exploratory committees. By at least that time Mark Jacobs was making such noises. We are not aware of any reports that he was considering challenging Harkin. Regardless, it is not a stretch to presume that Jacobs was thinking of leaving Iowa for Washington within months of moving back, if not before.
The TIR story in part dealt with the relative fund raising prowess of Jacobs compared to other candidates, the Texas connection, tidbits about Jacob’s decision making regarding a political consultant, and briefly mentioned the issue of his having given campaign contributions to Democrat Senate candidates Arlen Specter and Jon Corzine when he was an executive with Goldman Sachs and the Houston energy company. The Specter donation has been reported for some time, including this story in Caffeinated Thoughts dating back to September, Mark Jacobs Faces Two Roadblocks in Potential U.S. Senate. The Corzine donation was first raised Monday, February 10th in an article in The Weekly Standard, Republican Candidates Who Give to Democrats.
Whether Jacob’s consultant firm, Victory Enterprises of Davenport, had advised him to get such questionable aspects about his Republican authenticity out forthrightly, rather then let them be dribbled out by news outlets, is not known. As it is now, if they did not advise him to be more forthcoming, the typical flack response of “that’s old news” is not available to Jacobs, perhaps thanks to Victory Enterprises.
Mark Jacobs, apart from his own money, which TIR reports as an investment of over half a million dollars including loans, raised about a quarter million dollars from friends in Texas in the reportable time from his official announcement in November 2013 until the end of the year. No doubt he was lining those donations up for months since letting it be known he was considering the race. He raised only half as much from Iowa. Having been back in Iowa only a few months after decades of absence, it is hard to make the caliber of friends that can give $5200 at a pop and have their spouse turnaround and do the same, as they did for Jacobs in Texas.
Not reported by TIR or the other publications is the number of individuals involved in the donations. Based on reportable amounts the Texas money came from 76 or so individuals but just 60 or so Iowans contributed in reportable amounts. This has caused some to ask, where is home for Mark Jacobs?
The amount of money Jacobs has raised, and spent, and more, is necessary as a shock treatment for those who have never heard of Jacobs, someone who could not claim a listening audience based on what he could articulate vs what he could purchase, or who could never claim as much as a Republican precinct of support for his prior political involvement in Iowa. It is necessary for someone with Jacobs problematic political resume if he is to be successful in the primary, but it does not mean that he will be successful.
Money isn’t everything
The TIR report mentioned John Brunner a wealthy conservative Missouri industrialist and 2012 Republican Senate primary candidate there who pumped in over $7.8 million of his own into a failed campaign. As TIR points out Brunner’s well funded campaign was not determinative while suggesting that the Iowa situation is sufficiently different to have Jacab’s money propel him to be the front runner.
Maybe so, but other factors may still negate the advantageous differences contemplated by TIR. The Missouri race was essentially a three way race. Brunner was opposed by Todd Akin, a sitting Congressman, and Sarah Steelman a former state treasurer and state senator. She was the plurality winner in a State Treasurer nomination race winning the general. But it is not a high profile office. She gave up a reelection bid for that office to lose in the 2008 gubernatorial primary. So she had been four years away from any political standing. In the 2012 Senate primary Akin prevailed with a six point plurality over Brunner who edged out Steelman.
Authenticity is still the big question in a primary. Negatives hurt Brunner and Steelman in spite of endorsements from known conservative entities and independent efforts that countered one another. Akin benefited most from having strong credentials and accordingly being left alone by the primary antagonists. His campaign was supposedly helped by Democrat ads claiming he was too conservative, an effort to highlight who they believed to be the weakest candidate. Yet all three primary candidates out polled Democrat incumbent McCaskill in the lead up to the primary.
We believe Akin benefited from being a known entity, whoever advertised it. He did not go on to lose because of his voting record. Akin was accused of a clumsy articulation mistake on the issue of rape and pregnancy, but screw-ups are nothing new to any number of winning candidates. The reason he lost was more so the back-shooting by Republicans, including handwringing conservatives who should have concentrated on counter-punching McCaskill for her extreme abortion votes. Akin apologized for his in-articulation. McCaskill was given a free ride by virulent Republican back shooters.
Brunner also had advantages that Jacobs does not. Brunner’s only departure from Missouri was for two years military service as a Marine Corps officer. His business experience was uncontroversial or at least by comparison to what could be visited on a Goldman Sachs alum. Brunner lived in and paid salaries in Missouri. His wealth was developed there, he was an ensconced Missourian. He didn’t leave for decades, move back and five to eight months later decide to campaign for an open Senate seat.
We have not checked into the existence of controversial political donations by Brunner or positions held that were significant Republican apostasies. They may exist, and all the more reason for his loss. But Mark Jacobs has both including substantial donations to Democrats, indeed bêt noire Democrats, as mentioned above, and an anathema position supporting cap and trade, wrong on so many levels we do not know where to start, and continuing inarticulate obfuscations regarding Common Core.
Jacobs the “life long Republican”
One with an interesting concept of leadership and commitment.
As an executive with Goldman Sachs living in Houston, Mark Jacobs gave a substantial donation to Jon Corzine, CEO of the company, who successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey. According to The Weekly Standard, Mark Jacobs’ spokeswoman Alissa Ohl responded to the revelations saying:
“Mark gave Corzine a contribution when he was CEO of the company which employed Mark, . . . Mark gave him no subsequent contributions and remains very disappointed at Corzine’s performance as a public official.”
Questions not asked of Jacobs or his spokeswoman: Was the donation voluntary or not? If not then Mr Jacobs got to his position of prestige by not standing up to power but going along with its abuses. If it was voluntary then did Mark Jacobs not know the difference between Democrats and Republicans? If he did know the difference how did he not know to be disappointed?
Just a few years ago, donations totaling $3000 were given by Mark Jacobs to Senator Arlen Specter after Specter had switched parties to be a Democrat. A so called smart money guy does not give to lame ducks, or candidates not deemed competitive. The generic excuse from the Jacobs campaign regarding his support of Specter as a Democrat was that donations are necessary for a seat at the table and that he was representing a company with dependence on coal, something continually under regulation threat from various angles.
Except that Arlen Specter was from Pennsylvania, a coal state. Coal related interests hardly need to buy their way onto a seat at the table in such circumstances. Then again if it is all about innocent access, the game as we understand it, is to give to both contestants. We saw no matching amount to Republican Toomey from Jacobs personally.
The idea that he was buying a seat at the table, his official excuse by the way, is not very reassuring to conservatives. Who is buying a seat at his table if that is how the game is played? And seriously, a place at the table as regards Corzine . . . when Jacobs worked for the company?
The RRI Energy PAC was the prime political outreach of the company for which Mark Jacobs was a highly placed executive and eventually CEO. Mark Jacobs contributed many thousands to that PAC over the years he was with the company. The RRI Energy PAC primarily seems to be a check writing PAC. When it writes checks to an individual campaign as it does, as a proxy for its contributors, or when a donor personally writes a check directly to a campaign, there is inextricable beneficial support for the candidate’s full program and that of his or her party. Chief executives might convince themselves it is for the greater good, but funny how the greater good is limited to one’s company or industry.
The RRI Energy PAC gave mostly to Republicans and predominantly to Texans in its recorded history. But some of the Democrat luminaries it gave money to were Marion Berry for Congress; Jeff Bingaman, John Dingell, Mary Landrieu, Sheila Jackson Lee, and drum roll, Arlen Specter to the tune of $12,000 after he had left the Republican Party. Mark Jacobs started giving to RRI Energy PAC in 2003. It and he had a rather parochial view of the greater good.
The whole pay for access excuse is bad for the political environment and going along with it seems to indicate a lack of leadership. Seriously, a company operates in an oil and gas state, employing hundreds of people, what politician from that state is not going to listen? Would Mark Jacobs not listen to John Deere or the corn growers unless they ponied up? It is a pretty pathetic example of leadership if you have to buy your way onto a table in such circumstances, no matter what party one is actually loyal to, or politician one is dealing with.
But giving money directly to Specter and Corzine, two virulent pro-aborts, two individuals intent on maintaining the hegemony of Democrats in all matters, a party intent on sustaining the Obamanation in all matters, is something Jacobs did unilaterally. Damn the country but protect my company! And that is supposed to pass for sincere Republican loyalty?
Cap and trade – Jacobs sets a nice table
Will Mark Jacobs be against cap and trade after he was for it, and why? What has changed about it for the good of the country that wasn’t true back then when he spoke favorably that it would work “quite well?” As reported in The Weekly Standard:
Ohl explained to THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Jacobs’s support for cap and trade and for Arlen Specter were for the benefit of Reliant and in the political context of total Democratic control of the federal government.
So “lifelong Republicans” give Democrats political money to help lock in their hegemony.
“Reliant, the company Mark was responsible for, had a number of coal-fired power plants in states like Pennsylvania, where the specter of those regulations could force the shutdown of plants and the lay-off of hundreds of workers,” Ohl said. “While never personally supporting a cap and trade alternative, as CEO, Mark was forced to decide if he wanted to ‘be at the table, or on the table.’
Jacobs “never personally” supported cap and trade yet he said that it would work quite well? So he supports it for his company but the country be damned . . . and we are supposed to believe in his leadership.
Jacobs “never personally” supported cap and trade, yet he gave personal money to people intent on beating the party that did oppose cap and trade. What kind of “let me be your future Senator” leadership for the good of his future neighbors in Iowa was that? We suppose it is possible to hold a conflicted position on such a matter but it is not endearing to act on the worst one. Leadership was not his prime accompanying virtue, table sitting maybe.
The corporate election?
Beyond such Republican apostasies consider the general populist implications of the Jacobs candidacy. Somehow we do not think the political establishment in Texas would accept the plausibility of a similar situation that Jacobs proposes,– a long absent son returns, many qualified sons and daughters are nevertheless present, but the expectation is of immediate advancement to the U.S. Senate, no dues, just the buy
Maybe Texans would anticipate the opposition script a little better . . . and not want to appear so needy for a corporate rescue as if that did not present the same image that helped defeat a certain former investment banker / securities connected Republican in 2012. Roger Mall