This evening, Denny Elwell is hosting a holiday party for Jim Gibbons’ campaign for Congress. Gibbons is one of four official candidates who is seeking the Republican nomination in Iowa’s third congressional district. Along with Gibbons, State Senator Brad Zaun, retired airline pilot Dave Funk, and retired architect Mark Rees are all competing for the opportunity to take on Congressman Leonard Boswell in the 2010 general election.
Elwell, a commercial real estate developer, is a well-connected donor who has given to a number of Republican candidates over the years. The Elwell event will provide the first glimpse of how well Gibbons can raise money for his campaign. With the crowded primary field, donor money will be at a premium.
Thus far, Gibbons seems to have leg up on his competition. For the event tomorrow, Gibbons has recruited 85 individuals to serve on his host committee. Members of the host committee have contributed $250 or more to his campaign.
Gibbons told TheIowaRepublican.com, “We’ve only been doing this for a few weeks, but we’re off to a great start. I’m humbled by the outpouring of support from the community. Everything I’ve ever done in my life I’ve dedicated 110 percent to, whether it was a preparing for a match, working to be successful in business, or now running to beat Leonard Boswell. Iowans are hungry for change, and I will work day and night to ensure the people of the 3rd district will have a conservative voice representing them in Congress.”
While the size of his host committee is impressive, so are some of the names on the list. In addition to Elwell’s support, other prominent Republican donors such as Gary Kirke, Bruce Rastetter, and John Ruan are listed as early supporters of Gibbons’ congressional campaign.
While those donors have a history of supporting a number of candidates, Gibbons has also earned the support of the last Republican Congressman to represent Polk County in Congress, Dr. Greg Ganske. Ganske, a former wrestler, is joined by two other well known grapplers, college wrestling legend Dan Gable, and Perry Hummel, a three-time All-American from Iowa State who was Gibbons’ college roommate. Hummel is currently the Vice President of Hummel’s Nissan in Urbandale.
In a phone interview with TheIowaRepublican.com, Hummel stated his reasons for believing Gibbons is the best candidate to take on Congressman Boswell.
“Having been Jim’s college roommate and teammate, I can attest to his tremendous work ethic. As a wrestler and later as a coach, I’ve seen Jim excel as a leader, motivator, and communicator. Like Jim, I’m also concerned with the out-of-control spending in Washington and the massive amount of debt we are leaving to our children. Jim will be an exceptional member of Congress, and [he]has what it takes to be successful in this endeavor.”
Another name on the list that will be helpful to Gibbons’ campaign is former State Senator John Putney. Putney represented three and a half out of the eleven counties in the third district. These counties include Grundy, Benton, Tama, and three precincts in Iowa County. With all five candidates being from Polk County, having the support of a well-respected former legislator who served with one of your main primary opponents is an impressive feat.
In addition to helping Gibbons in his old legislative district, Putney is also well connected to donors all across Iowa. Putney serves as the Executive Director of the Iowa State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation, which raises money to make capital improvements to the fair grounds.
Whether a person is running for the state legislature, governor, or congress, having the support of people who have the ability and wherewithal to help raise money is absolutely critical. Gibbons has now shown how seriously he is taking his campaign. His aggressive fundraising effort out of the gate not only will helps him run a credible and professional campaign, but it also makes it more difficult for his opponents to raise money by taking some of the biggest Republican donors off the table.
Gibbons did not indicate how much money he plans to raise at tonight’s event. Instead, we will have to wait for the end of the year FEC disclosers to be released next month. At any rate, Gibbons looks to have locked up a significant number of the big Republican donors in his first month as a candidate. That is no easy task for any candidate, let alone someone who hasn’t been involved in politics before.
While all of the third district candidates have just begun to ramp up their campaign efforts, the Republican Primary is less than six months away. That may seem like a long time from now, but our radios and television sets will soon be filled with political ads once again. Gibbons’ early fundraising success puts him in a good position going into the election year.
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