Scott Schaben
Scott Schaben
July 5, 2013


Kuemper Catholic High School alum Scott Schaben of Ames says he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in the November 2014 election.

He would join a developing field of Republicans seeking to take on U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo.

"I'm going to set this race on fire," Schaben said in an interview.

"They're going to know Scott Schaben."

Born in Harlan, in 1974, Schaben, 38, a son of Dan Schaben, formerly of Carroll and now living in Harlan, and the late Darlene Schaben, attended Kuemper Catholic High School, graduating in 1993. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1993 and served until his honorable discharge in 1999 so he could attend college. He is a graduate of Iowa State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in marketing in 2003.

Schaben has worked in sales, most recently for Honda of Ames. He resigned that position this week so he could devote his time to running for the Senate as a "common-sense conservative."

He said the absence of "A-list" candidates on the Republican side, the potential for a field of 10 or more candidates, gives a political novice a fighting chance at the GOP general-election slot.

"It's opened the door for the average guy, the unconnected person, to pull this off," Schaben said.

The GOP field now includes David Young of Van Meter, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley's chief of staff until recently, radio-talk personality Sam Clovis of Sioux City, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker of Des Moines and Ames author and attorney Paul Lunde.

Mark Jacobs of West Des Moines, the former CEO of Texas-based Reliant Energy, is considering a bid for the office, as is former State Rep. Rod Roberts of Carroll, now the director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Clive, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have all passed on seeking the seat being vacated by veteran U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

Schaben said the current roster of GOP candidates is "untested."

"I'm just as qualified as the rest of the field," Schaben said.

What's more, Schaben thinks he will appeal to regular, everyday working Iowans.

"I've got Main Street, Iowa, Scott Schaben, money," he said.

Schaben said he is a different variety of conservative.

"I am not your far-right candidate," Schaben said.

For example, he supports gay marriage.

He's opposed to abortion, but says the party needs to be smart about managing the issue.

"I would vote to make it illegal, but I wouldn't expect it to pass," Schaben said.

Schaben's own family would bring racial diversity to the GOP, he said, noting that his wife, Latoja, an assistant coach for the Iowa State University women's basketball team, is African American.

"Let's see Bruce Braley paint me as a racist with a black wife," Schaben said.

Schaben said he is in the final stages of a campaign launch and expects to have a news conference within weeks. He's already ordered campaign mugs as he plans to hit coffee shops around Iowa.

"I'm 100 percent serious about this," he said.

Members of Schaben's family told the Daily Times Herald they have had conversations about his potential bid.

Schaben is a distant relative of Jim Schaben Sr. of Dunlap who ran as a Democrat for governor in 1974, losing the general election to Republican Gov. Robert Ray.