A Republican who supports same-sex marriage rights plans to run for the U.S. Senate. Thirty-seven-year-old Scott Schaben of Ames describes himself as a “moderate” Republican.
“This is an opportunity, probably the biggest opportunity in the last three to four decades, for the Republicans to put somebody in Senator Harkin’s seat,” Schaben says, “and I don’t want to see it squandered by a party nominating somebody that can out-conservative every other candidate in the primary, only to lose in the general election.”
Schaben concedes his stance on same-sex marriage runs counter to the Iowa Republican Party’s platform, but he thinks it may be a selling point for his candidacy.
“For me the biggest thing that’s going to make me stand out as a moderate Republican is my stance on gay marriage,” Schaben says. “I just don’t feel that anybody should be discriminated upon when it comes to who they want to marry.”
Schaben is married to an assistant Iowa State University women’s basketball coach.
“My wife and I met in Ames after an Iowa State basketball game,” Schaben says.
During a recent interview with a Carroll newspaper reporter, Schaben said likely Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley won’t be able to accuse him of being a racist, as Schaben’s wife is black. The comment quickly traveled around political websites and Schaben says he has no regrets about saying it.
“Somebody in a different interview had asked me if my wife was black and I said, ‘Yes she is,’ and that’s where the comment came from,” Schaben says. “But do I regret anything? No. I love my wife. My wife loves me. My wife doesn’t want to get involved in this at all.”
For the past seven years Schaben has worked as a car salesman in Ames, but he has quit that job and plans to run for the Senate. He’s a Carroll, Iowa, native who spent nearly six years in the Navy between high school and college.
Schaben is a distant cousin of Jim Schaben, Senior, a western Iowa Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1974, but the younger Schaben — who describes himself as a life-long Republican — has no memory of that race.
Schaben joins a growing list of Republicans who would like to run for the seat Democrat Tom Harkin has held for nearly three decades.