Iowa GOP candidates lay out differences, similarities

2014-05-19T16:49:00Z 2014-05-20T12:19:40Z Iowa GOP candidates lay out differences, similaritiesJack Cullen The Quad-City Times

Republican Senate hopeful Mark Jacobs used Monday’s 90-minute debate at Bettendorf High School to point out differences between himself and Sen. Joni Ernst, the perceived frontrunner. 

Mirroring recent television advertisements, Jacobs called out Ernst for voting for an increase in the gas tax and for votes pertaining to Internet taxes.

“One of us has supported tax increases in the past; four of us have not,” Jacobs said. “We’re not going to defeat Braley with the same policies.”

“I made a mistake,” Ernst responded. “Every once in awhile, you get something wrong. I’m not perfect, but when I make a mistake, I’ll own up to it.”

While the five candidates agreed on a majority of the issues during the open-discussion forum in front of a crowd of about 450 people, it was the back and forth between Jacobs and Ernst that animated the debate, which was sponsored by the Scott County Republican Party, the Quad-City Times and KWQC-TV, Davenport.

Jacobs also criticized Ernst for missing 40 percent of the votes in this year’s legislative session.

Ernst responded by saying over the range of her legislative service, she has a 90 percent voting record. 

Ernst called out Jacobs for what she said was support of the 2009 cap-and-trade bill passed by the U.S. House.

“I’m opposed to that, and I think most of us would be opposed to that,” she said, declaring it the largest tax increase on energy in history.

Jacobs rebutted by saying he had never personally supported that bill, but did to avoid devastating his company, Reliant Energy.

“Sadly, cap-and-trade was the least damaging approach,” he said.

Although the candidates agreed on many issues during the debate, they weren’t afraid to call one another out on their differences and promote what sets them apart from Rep. Bruce Braley, a four-term U.S. House member from Waterloo, and the only Democrat seeking the seat is held by retiring five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

While responding to Bettendorf High School student and panelist James Gomez during the event, Ames auto salesman Scott Schaben promoted his ability to relate with younger students.

“We’re going to have to find the candidate that breaks out of the old, rich, white male and out-of touch mold,” Schaben said. “We need to talk with younger people, treat them with respect and let them know their vote matters.”

Sioux City college professor Sam Clovis intervened with some humor.

“You know I’m a college professor. I do that all the time,” he said, adding he cannot imagine anyone who contrasts more with Braley than he does.  Clovis gave a forceful defense of living up to the rule of law and adhering to the Constitution.

Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker asserted himself as a new face of the Republican Party, and alluded to his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a certain amount of renewable fuels to be mixed in with the nation’s gasoline supply. That stance would put him at odds with most politicians in the state.

Whitaker presented the question about the size of government as a fundamental one.

“It’s a choice between more government and more freedom.”

The debate followed a recent Loras College poll that favored Ernst by 11 percentage points.

The five are vying to win at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 3 primary. If no candidate meets the threshold, a party convention will decide the nomination.

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. MKay
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    MKay - May 23, 2014 12:47 pm
    IA has a $215 million backlog in critical infrastructure needs and the 2nd highest # of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. IA's gas tax has not kept up with inflation. Gas tax is a fair system to address the needs because the more you drive the more you pay. Nobody wants higher taxes but the trade off is deteriorating and potentially unsafe roads. Issues of increasing the costs of going to work could be off-set with tax credits to those in need.
  2. Toy578
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    Toy578 - May 20, 2014 3:49 pm
    I don't believe the reference was to the diversity of the candidates. It was about the diversity of the CROWD.
  3. Stonecold
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    Stonecold - May 20, 2014 3:46 pm
    Braley would undoubtedly be better than what the Nuts on the Right is attempting to bestow upon the country and state!

    BTW, what does your comment have to do with my response to the senile citizen, who in a round about way is simply attempting create more hostility toward those on the Left?
  4. Betttaxpayer
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    Betttaxpayer - May 20, 2014 2:51 pm
    what is "diverse" about the DEMs candidate? do we really need more white, male lawyers (Braley) in Congress?

    Why is Braley campaigning and begging for dollars in Texas?

  5. Stonecold
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    Stonecold - May 20, 2014 12:24 pm
    The Nuts on the Right never cease to amaze with their propaganda.

    Just keep in mind readers.

    Senile citizen along with the rest of the Nuts the Right, is using tactics that mirror those used by Nazi Germany prior to the Holocaust.

    They demonized the people to a point where they were despised, and that’s exactly what the Nuts on the right are attempting to do!
  6. senor citizen
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    senor citizen - May 20, 2014 10:50 am
    The Dems want a GOP candidate they can beat, I'm sure they'd like to choose which one. The liberals and "progressives" (Fabian Socialists) want diversity as long as the those groups vote left wing.
  7. Wheezy
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    Wheezy - May 20, 2014 10:31 am
    There was plenty of diversity in the crowd. In addition to a handful of the students from the AP Government class, the predominantly white, middle aged and older crowd probably included a few left-handers.

    A couple of kind of funny moments:
    - All of the candidates railed about the devastating loss of jobs Iowa would face if the minimum wage was increased, then in the next breath claimed that it wasn't needed anyway because most entry level jobs in Iowa already exceeded the proposed minimum wage.

    - In a question about relating to young voters, Shaban was the only one promising to pay attention and listen to young voters rather than just talk to them, then he made a reference to Admiral Stockdale in an answer to another question. Those types of references will certainly endear him to the young voters.

    - the crowd laughed when a question related to climate change was raised, and all of course disputed the science. Jacobs, who certainly knows better but can't politically admit it, came close to saying that fossil fuels were a problem and sort of endorsed cleaner energy in general.

    And a couple of not so funny moments:
    - Clovis was the only one to bring up the fact that you can do all the "waste and fraud" cutting that you want in the relatively small part of the budget that includes the non-defense discretionary programs, but the killer spending in the future is going to be Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as the boomers retire. None of them had any real answer to this, but the clear consensus seemed to be that none of them seemed to have any intention of saving Social Security for people not currently close to retirement.

    - and no one but Clovis seemed to care about the recent report on Iowa's infrastructure needs. Everybody ( including Clovis) robotically condemned any increase in the gas tax, and Ernst offered a heartfelt apology for her sin ( venial or mortal?) of voting for it once, but nobody had any ideas about funding infrastructure - except Clovis (again) - offering a plan to reduce corporate tax rates, bringing back trillions of dollars of income and the resulting taxes at the lower rate, that some large corporations are sheltering overseas to avoid taxes - and he would direct those tax revenues to infrastructure.

    Clovis doesn't have a chance, and I'd never vote for him based on his other stances, but he did seem to stand out as the thinker of the group. Apparently not a high bar though.
  8. shelley
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    shelley - May 20, 2014 9:15 am
    Is this article limited by number of words or space? The content of the debate is non-existent. Are you saying they agree on all issues, what are they? They sniped at each other personally-do we need to know that? The photo is bigger that the article.
  9. Betttaxpayer
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    Betttaxpayer - May 20, 2014 8:32 am
    Why do we need to increase the gas tax when Iowa has the highest vehicle registration fees in the Midwest. The sedan I pay $300 a year to register in Iowa would only cost me $100 in Illinois and only around $40 in Ohio.
  10. Betttaxpayer
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    Betttaxpayer - May 20, 2014 8:28 am
    No diversity, isn't Ms. Ernst a female veteran?
    Lots of diversity on the Dem side right. Braley: white, male, trial lawyer.

  11. MKay
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    MKay - May 20, 2014 7:45 am
    I attended the debate early to speak to each of the candidates about Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Fast Track trade promotion authority. Most candidates were in favor of this trade agreement although they had no idea of the details. When I explained this dangerous trade deal included countries such as Communist Viet Nam with their horrible human rights record and Brunei who recently enacted a form of Sharia law that includes the death penalty for women accused of committing adultery, the Candidates did not know how to respond. When I asked if they were bothered by the Investor - State dispute resolution process in TPP that allowed any Corporation to sue to overturn any law or regulation enacted by the ELECTED officials if the Corporation believed the law impacts their ability to earn a profit. Only Sam Clovis & Scott Schaben agreed that it was a problem that the deal was being negotiated by un-elected bureaucrats and lobbyists instead of by congress as required by the constitution.

    When Joni proudly admitted she voted for the increase in the gas tax to pay for our crumbling road & bridges I thought she was going to explain the need to hold your nose and take a tough vote for the greater good. Although nobody wants to pay taxes most recognize the costs of doing nothing and how proper maintenance is usually less expensive in the long run. Instead she said she made of mistake. Koch brothers win again.
  12. longjohn412
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    longjohn412 - May 20, 2014 3:02 am
    Not much Diversity in that crowd .... In fact it looked like there was NO Diversity in that crowd ... at all

    I still get a giggle when they run away from their own Ideas like Cap and Trade as if they weren't the ones that thought up that "market based' scheme in the first place

    Sadly they oppose it for the wrong reason, just a Cap will work better in the long run as the Europeans proved during 90's when politicians still had a pair to take on a pending Environmental Disaster like Acid Rain. Although we got there too with the Republican's Cap and Trade market based nonsense it took us 30% longer and cost us over 20% more than the Europeans "cap and cap' policy ..... Sometimes it's just better to rip that band aid off and be done with it LIKE A MAN .....
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