CEDAR RAPIDS | Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Jacobs likes to mention he’s a native Iowan and that even during his long absence was an Iowan at heart.
But the retired energy company executive is getting chided for his continuing ties to his home away from Iowa -- Texas.
According to current voter registration rolls in Harris County, Texas, Jacobs is registered and eligible to vote in Houston.
It should raise a red flag in the minds of Republican primary voters that Jacobs, who has lived outside of Iowa for three decades, is running for the GOP Senate nomination on "Iowa values,” but remains registered in Texas, according to the Joni Ernst for U.S. Senate campaign.
Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak, is one of seven Republicans seeking the party’s 2014 nomination for the Senate seat held by Sen. Tom Harkin, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
It’s a "non-starter,” according to Brian Dumas, campaign manager for Jacobs, who is on a church mission trip in Central America with his family.
"As far as Mark is concerned, when he registered in Iowa he said he was no longer a Texan and it became a non-issue,” Dumas said.
The Texas voter registration rolls show Jacobs as being eligible to vote there until the end of the year – another three days.
It’s not the length of time that he’s eligible to vote in Texas, an Ernst staffer said on background, but the length of time he wasn’t an Iowan. The fact that he’s still registered in Texas is more evidence that he’s "a new Iowan.”
It appears Jacobs was registered as an independent and voted in the 2012 Texas GOP primary for the first time in more than a decade.
The Ernst campaign suggested Jacobs’ New Year’s Resolution should be that if he wants to run for U.S. Senate from Iowa he should finally cut his ties to the Lone Star State.
Calling attention to the oversight is just a diversion from the real issues of the campaign, Dumas said.
"Clearly they are threatened by Mark’s candidacy because he’s attracting support from across the state,” Dumas said. “They just want to tear Mark down because they view him as the frontrunner.”
According to Iowa voter registrations rules, a person is not eligible to vote here if they claim the right to vote “in any other place.”
However, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said it’s uncommon for people to cancel their registration when they move.
To keep voting lists are as accurate as possible, the Iowa Secretary of State works with county auditors, other states, and a national change of address program to get in touch with voters to remind them to update their voter registration, said Chance McElhaney, spokesman for Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. “Without the voter confirming the move, there is very little county auditors can do to cancel a voter record due to federal and state laws.”