What does one of the richest men in the United States buy his granddaughter for her 30th birthday?
If you’re Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm, you buy granddaughter Sara Jacobs a congressional district. She’ll turn 30 in January. With a net worth of $1.3 billion, according to Forbes, the senior Jacobs is doing just that.
If you’re a woman living in North County San Diego or southern Orange County, you likely received a mailer proclaiming Sara Jacobs as the “fresh face we need in Congress.” The “fresh face” claim walks back Jacobs’s prior apology to Democratic frontrunner Col. Doug Applegate, a retired Marine. In response to a question at a campaign event, Jacobs described Applegate as a “crusty old Marine.” She later apologized. Nevertheless, the super-Pac supporting Jacobs remains preoccupied with complexion over substance in campaign mailers.
The mailers are part of an extravagant media blitz paid for by the super-PAC, Women Vote! As reported April 9 in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sara Jacobs’s grandfather donated $250,000 to this super-PAC.
In late 2017, Sara Jacobs moved to Encinitas (and the 49th Congressional District) for the express purpose of running for Congress.
Her only visible qualification for the job is her grandfather’s checkbook.
On March 27, the San Diego Union-Tribune dissected Sara Jacobs’s resume. College professors can tell you that their students often pad or inflate their resumes to get internships. Unscrupulous students will later claim their internships as “professional experience.” Clearly, that is what Sara Jacobs’s is doing.
Perhaps that’s why the super-PAC adopted her “fresh face” as the tagline. Behind the fresh face is little substance. One longtime North County politician described a speech by Sara Jacobs as one befitting a candidate for student body president, not one running for Congress.
One might be taken aback by the hubris of a 29-year-old who presumes to acquire the 49th Congressional District with nothing more than deep pockets. On Nov. 28, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Sara Jacobs is accustomed to moving to the front of the patronage line. In 2015, granddaughter Jacobs wanted to work for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Clinton’s campaign turned her down. Not to worry. Grandfather Jacobs is one of the largest donors to the Democratic Party. Mary Pat Bonner, a major Democratic Party fundraiser, began lobbying John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, on Jacobs’s behalf. In short order, Sara Jacobs was hired as a “foreign policy adviser,” according to the U-T article.
Her credentials as a “foreign policy adviser?” At the time, granddaughter Jacobs had 28 months of professional experience, plus three internships. Despite limited professional experience and her brief residency in Encinitas, Ms. Jacobs is eager to move on to bigger and better things.
But one wonders how she might represent her constituents. The political spin is that she’s a “native” who grew up in the district and attended Torrey Pines, a public high school. Arguably, a coastal heiress is hardly qualified to represent the rest of the 49th, the lower 99.99 percent of the economic pyramid. Her coastal gilded palace of privilege is a million miles from Camp Pendleton, Fallbrook and Valley Center.
Civilians working with active-duty Navy and Marines often develop sensitivity to the isolation of today’s professional military. It’s said that five percent fight our wars. The other 95 percent go shopping. According to the U.S. Census, over 46,000 veterans live in the 49th. Some carry visible physical wounds of combat. Others carry their wounds inside as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The sacrifices and challenges of active duty and retired military men and women ought to be on the front burner of anyone in Congress representing the 49th.
There are other differences that set apart this trust-fund fresh face from her constituents. In the 49th, per capita income is $42,826. The average citizen in the 49th would have to work 5.8 years and give all those earnings to Sara Jacobs, just to match her grandfather’s single check. In the 49th, about 9 percent live below the poverty level. About a quarter live in households where a language other than English is spoken.
The 49th is a purple district. Republicans outnumber Democrats, 37% to 31%, with 26% stating no party preference. Representing such a diverse district requires a strong leader who can address constituent needs across the political, cultural and economic divides. Developing those leadership skills ought to happen before running for Congress. In the process, a fresh face might get a bit crusty.
David Dozier is professor emeritus in the School of Journalism & Media Studies, San Diego State University. He helped establish the military public affairs officers (PAO) program at SDSU. A Democrat, he has lived in Encinitas for 29 years.