‘Anybody with a strong vision can win here’
Jacobsen makes it official, she will seek opportunity to challenge Rep. King
Less than a month after announcing her intention to explore a run against Iowa 4th District U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, Spencer businesswoman and City Council representative Leann Jacobsen made it official Thursday morning with the launch of her campaign website.
Jacobsen’s decision to seek the Democratic Party nomination for the chance to face the eight-term incumbent for his U.S. Congress seat came after some consultation with party figures, family and other trusted voices.
"I have been visiting with people to find out if there is a path forward in this district, and is there a path to victory,” Jacobsen explained. “Can a Democrat win in this district?”
The candidate apparently found the answer she was searching for.
“I believe anybody with a strong vision can win here.”
Now she will spend the next several months making her case to the voters of Iowa’s 4th District, first in the state’s democratic primary, then if she’s able to capture the party nomination, in a head-to-head showdown with King.
“They want someone who can work with others to make progress,” Jacobsen said. “I’ve spent my entire adult life working with people to bring them together regardless of politics and ideals. I have a track record of doing this over the past 30 years.”
Locally, Jacobsen has been integral in starting the Riverfront Farmers Market and StartupCity Spencer, a business incubator that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses. After nearly 20 years with AT&T, she launched Capitol Gains, an advocacy firm focused on business, economic development, arts and culture, and child welfare. She then went on to serve as the president of the Technology Association Iowa, which helps grow and develop small businesses and advance Iowa’s reputation as a technology state. She currently serves on the advisory board of Spencer Municipal Hospital and is co-owner and operator of Spencer’s Bear Coffeehouse and Wine Bar with her husband David.
Jacobsen said many of her endeavors, including her time as TAI president, afforded her the opportunity to work across party lines and bridge the political spectrum.
“I have a history of working across the party aisle,” she said. “When you’re willing to sit down with somebody and have a conversation about why something is a good idea for your community, your state and your country — Iowans tend to do the right thing regardless of politics. I intend to bring that to Congress and be that trusted voice for Iowa to make people and communities stronger and futures brighter.”
She added, “There is a lot of common values across Iowa regardless of party and I’m really excited to have those conversations.”
Jacobsen indicated that she isn’t really concerned about her opponents in either the primary or general election, suggesting instead she wants to stay on target with her message.
“I plan to run a campaign about Iowans plain and simple,” Jacobsen said. “My whole reason for running is to put people first. People over politics. Working for the people of this district and this state. I’m not running for attention or to get on television. I’m running for the people and communities and to make progress for them.”
“I’m not really concerned with Steve King,” she added. “He’s an embarrassment and he’s not really focused on what’s important for this district. ... I’m focused on a vision for northwest Iowa that revolves around the people and the community here and what we can do to grow opportunities that make them even stronger. My attention is on that and not on my opponent in either the general or the primary.”
The candidate pointed to her history of involvement on a variety of issues that demonstrates her commitment to topics with interests stretching beyond the boundaries of northwest Iowa.
“My strength is my experience and my results,” she said. “I’ve passed meaningful legislation with a lasting impact on communities all over this district and state. As a mother and a grandmother, I bring the experience of being a primary caregiver to the table. As a member of a rural hospital advisory board I’m very familiar with how important it is to consult with health care professionals with regards to any wholesale changes to health industry in this country. I’m passionate about supporting our farmers here, demonstrated by our farmers market here and how we’re helping them to grow their business here. I’m invested in building communities our kids and our grandkids want to live in. ...”
She suggested she intends to translate that into her message, targeting tasks important to both Iowa’s 4th District and the country as a whole.
“I think there’s some commonality and it comes down to three areas I’m focusing on,” Jacobsen said, citing jobs, education and health care.
“... Growing jobs,” she said, “putting a strong emphasis on growing American jobs through all avenues. Protecting public education, it’s the cornerstone of our future as a state and as a nation. It’s not simply about economics, it’s the right thing to do. Both of my parents are educators and it’s fully ingrained in my being that every child needs access to a good education. ... And I want to bring some sanity back to the heath care debate. I've seen up close what can happen when there are cracks in the system and I know the importance of making changes the right way.”
Her hope is to create jobs and improve rural communities in the state so young people are more inclined to stay and saving natural resources, helping the middle class and supporting small businesses.
Jacobsen, who has two grown daughters, four stepchildren, and one granddaughter, admitted that family support helped her pull the trigger regarding her decision to run, knowing there will be personal and professional sacrifices to be made.
“That has been perhaps the biggest consideration in all of this. I go into this race with the full support of my husband and children. They understand the importance of the task at hand and they understand the strength I bring to the campaign and to the people of Iowa.”
While she acknowledged that she will have to leave some of her day-to-day business operations in the hands of “qualified” staff, Jacobsen said, “I will continue to fulfill my obligation to the City Council to the fullest extent.”
She added, “I’ve taken on tough challenges throughout my life for the good and I’m willing to work with anybody who has a good idea — Republican or Democrat — if it’s the right idea for Iowa.”
Jacobsen’s campaign website is www.leannjacobsen.com.