Businesswoman Leann Jacobsen Considers Run Against Steve King

One of the longstanding frustrations of moderate Republicans and some independents in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District isn’t so much the incendiary things Steve King says; it’s instead what local issues he isn’t talking about. While King is complaining on Twitter about immigrants and touting far-right European political movements, small town economies in Western Iowa are struggling. Now Leann Jacobsen, a Spencer city councilwoman whose expertise is building up small business communities in Northwest Iowa, is thinking about challenging King in 2018.

“I have 30 years of business experience which provides a lot of passion around seeing business succeed, from start-ups to corporations to non-profits,” Jacobsen told Starting Line. “There’s such a need in small towns to have a thriving business community, because that’s where you get your tax base to pay for your education and a lot of the quality-of-life and government services.”

Jacobsen, a Democrat, stressed that she’s still in the early stages of considering a congressional run, but she’d bring a strong resume to the race if she did. Recently elected to the Spencer City Council, she served on the governor’s STEM advisory council and is a board member for Spencer Hospital. And for ten years she was the president of the Technology Association of Iowa, which helps grow and develop small businesses and brings together young entrepreneurs in the tech field.

After retiring from that organization, she took over StartupCity Spencer, a technology innovator and business incubator group that’s helped to attract new people and companies to the 11,000-person town in Clay County. She also runs her own coffee shop and wine bar.

“We’ve worked to create a place that brings interesting things to town and creates something different as a way to diversify opportunities for people living here or thinking about moving back some day,” Jacobsen said. “It really created a place of interest to young people in particular. Our efforts have been focused on revitalizing the community and how that can spread to other small towns.”

Jacobsen noted that she’s heard a lot of concerns from parents who have kids that are moving further and further away from the small towns in Western Iowa. But she hasn’t heard much on that concern from her congressman.

“We’re not seeing in Northwest Iowa anything coming from Congress,” she explained. “When you talk about education and economic development and creating thriving communities throughout the district, we’re not seeing any kind of help coming from Steve King.”

She’s already run for office and won once this year, taking a spot that came open on the Spencer City Council, becoming the only elected woman there. It’s the kind of thing she encouraged other women to do back when she started the Iowa Women in Public Policy organization, which was co-chaired by Sally Pederson and Joy Corning.

“I also ran to bring a different perspective as a woman,” Jacobsen said. “I have different life experiences, I have different priorities as a mother and a grandmother, and the need to want to see my kids locally, instead of having to get in the car, and create the communities they’ll want to come back to.”

A lot of that type of encouragement came from her father early on in her life when she lived in Minnesota.

“When I was growing up, my dad would inspire me by saying, ‘You’re not going to be the secretary, you’re going to be the boss. You’re not going to be the nurse, you’re going to be the doctor,'” she recalled. “Then as I was helping women in politics, inviting them and giving them the tools they needed to succeed and run, he was always asking me, ‘When are you going to run?'”

That decision on a 4th District run may still take a while, but it would help fill the void for Democrats after Kim Weaver pulled out of the race earlier this year. There’s also talk that another Democrat with Sioux City roots is considering the race, so the party could have a competitive primary before it takes on King next year.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 7/13/17

4 Comments on "Businesswoman Leann Jacobsen Considers Run Against Steve King"

  • Leanne Jacobsen appears to be someone with life experiences and goals that are important to citizens in rural Iowa. I would encourage her to move forward.

  • Good possibility but she needs to be very strong and ready for dirty campaigning king has no respect for women sound familiar?

  • This is exactly the kind of candidate that can beat King provided she keeps to what he hasn’t done for people locally,( and he’s been in office long enough, with many missed opportunities that can be mentioned) praise’s her own ability to run a business in a fiscally responsible way , and understands what the taxes she pays dose for her community, county, state, and federal government . Then explain her plan to get some of those tax dollars back in the form of investment in her district creating jobs that will give young people the desire to stay, something that King has not been able to achieve in any meaningful or tangible way . Let him attack on a personal level your life but stay away from that trap and rise above it by only hammering home his inability to really get meaningful things done for the district . Pay close attention to the grandma’s and grandpa’s and their needs , because they definitely vote ! And perhaps appeal to everyone’s pocketbook in the form of being fiscally responsible, and spending only what one can afford . This though she must beat him to the punch on ! Now she needs to get out there and declare and run like her life depends on winning ! “Go, Go, Leanne Jacobsen” bumper sticker…….use it !

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