Mark Jacobs, a 1980 Roosevelt High School graduate, recently moved back to Iowa after serving as the CEO of Reliant Energy in Houston, TX. He had served as the company’s CFO and prior to that spent 13 years in New York according to the bio on his organization Reaching Higher Iowa’s website. Along with his experience in the business world he also on the board of the KIPP Houston Public Schools, a charter school network, and most recently was their board chair. He founded Reaching Higher Iowa upon returning to Iowa, an education advocacy group that lobbies on education reform measures. They also hosted an education summit that featured Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.
In late June he formed an exploratory committee for a potential U.S. Senate run. He started Reaching Higher Iowa the same month Senator Tom Harkin announced his retirement and he has been considered a potential candidate since April and was traveling the state speaking to civic clubs prior to the formation of his exploratory committee. After the formation of his committee he has continued to travel the state and has made appearances at numerous GOP events.
He has at least two potential road blocks in a U.S. Senate campaign:
After first being unable to get Jacobs to go on the record on education issues; he told Caffeinated Thoughts after the Lyon County GOP fundraiser that he was supportive of the Common Core State Standards, but he was concerned about the Federal involvement in them.
That would be the first potential roadblock as this is an issue the grassroots is becoming fired-up about. When other opponents have gone on the record against them it becomes a wedge issue and one that he is on the wrong side of.
The second potential roadblock for Jacobs is his donation to Senator Arlen Specter’s campaign five months after he switched parties to become a Democrat. FEC filings show (H/T to Matt Lewis) that Jacobs donated $3000 to Specter in 2009.
Rick Santorum was questioned early in his presidential run about his endorsement of Arlen Specter (while Specter was a Republican), but was able to explain it as a pragmatic decision in exchange for Specters support of certain judicial nominees.
What could a Texas energy executive gain from Specter’s reelection? Is this the type of Senator he favors? Caffeinated Thoughts reached out to his exploratory committee, but Jacobs was unavailable for comment.
At this point it looks right now the best thing Jacobs has going for him is his ability to self-fund his campaign. This could be huge in a U.S. Senate race that will likely be very expensive with a crowded primary field competing for campaign cash. With being the least known in a field that struggles with name recognition he has potential to change that through building a strong campaign organization and ad buys. That is if he can get past these roadblocks.
Photo credit: Mark Jacobs Exploratory Committee