Thus far, Mark Jacobs’ exploratory campaign for the U.S. Senate has taken a low-key approach. Like the other candidates already in the race, Jacobs travels across the state. He’s speaks to service clubs, county GOP central committees, and conservative breakfast clubs. Jacobs also makes appearances at local businesses during his travels. While he’s not yet a candidate, his itinerary says otherwise.
As is often the case in the early stages of a campaign, only the most active Republicans are aware of the candidates, or in Jacob’s case, the likely candidate. Getting to know activists, opinion leaders, local elected officials, and business leaders is important spade-work at the beginning of a campaign. This work is even more necessary with a relatively unknown field of candidates vying for the Republican nomination for what will be the largest, most expensive campaign Iowa has ever seen.
While cultivating relationships is important work, so too is becoming known to the 200,000 or more Iowa Republicans who will likely participate in the primary. Even though there is plenty of time between now and the June 3rd primary, it is impossible for any candidate to meet every single voter in person. That means the use of mail, television, internet, and radio ads are necessary tools to reach out to likely voters.
Late last week, primary voters began receiving their first piece of mail from Jacobs. The twelve-page, full color flyer is designed to introduce himself to Iowa Republicans. It’s a roll out the likes of which we have never seen before in Iowa. In total, the mail piece includes 32 photographs of Jacobs and his family over the years. Jacobs writes about growing up in Iowa, his family, his business background, his faith and charitable work, and his passion for quality education.
In his opening note, Jacobs writes, “I am an optimist and believe that our future can be better than today. However, I am also deeply concerned about the direction this country is heading. We all look at Washington D.C. and see division and dysfunction. I don’t just believe we can do better – I know we can do better.”
The above paragraph is the most political part of the mail piece. While some will likely say that Jacobs should have checked the boxes by stating his position on a number of current issues like Obamacare, immigration reform, and the life issue, the aim of an introductory mailer like this is to simply introduce Iowans to who the candidate is. In this instance, the Jacobs piece does a very good job of doing just that.
Besides introducing himself to Iowa primary voters, Jacobs’s initial mail piece also indicates that he is inching closer to becoming an official U.S. Senate candidate. If his first mail piece is any indication of the type of campaign he plans to run once he is a candidate, he will likely alter the shape and tenor of the primary.
Right now, the cast of Republican U.S. Senate candidates seem to be content with traveling around the state attending local GOP functions. Jacobs ability to communicate to likely primary voters beyond that, gives him a distinct advantage over his competition. While it is unknown how many people Jacobs mailed, there is no doubt that he spent a considerable amount of money sending out his introductory mail piece. Quite frankly, it is likely that none of the other candidates could have afforded to publish and mail a piece like this.
Remember, the 2014 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate isn’t like the Iowa presidential caucuses where candidates spend years tromping through the state trying to find support. This is a primary. There is no way that a candidate has the time to meet everyone who’s going to vote in the next 246 days. We already know that Jacobs has the ability to communicate at that level, but the fundraising reports coming out in the next couple of weeks will give us an indication if anyone else does as well.
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