Culver raised $765,000 in the six-week fundraising period that ended last Wednesday. The DGA contributed $250,000 to Culver’s campaign, representing over a third of what his campaign raised. Culver’s 30 page contributor report was so sparse that 16 contributions made up over 72% of the total dollars that he was able to raise.
The biggest problem for Culver is that he spent more than he brought in during the period. Culver’s inability to raise money from individual Iowans is alarming. While a dollar from the DGA spends the same as a dollar from an Iowa donor, Culver has failed to create any semblance of widespread support during his first term in office. If Culver had the support of Iowans, his campaign wouldn’t have had to spend $250,000 more than it took in.
Terry Branstad’s campaign reported raising over $2.1 million, $1 million of that coming from the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The RGA dumping vast amounts of money into Branstad’s campaign following a primary is common practice for a challenger race that is one of the best pick-up opportunities in the nation.
The DGA’s early investment into Culver’s campaign is odd for a number of reasons. First, the DGA’s contributions and spending on Culver’s behalf represent over one-third of the $6.6 million he has raised. The RGA’s $1 million contribution to Branstad only represents a fifth of what he raised.
Second, national committees like the DGA don’t typically pour money into re-election campaigns for incumbents. Typically, incumbents need to hold their own so groups like the DGA can use their funds to pick up seats elsewhere. With a poor political environment, the DGA is obviously already playing defense.
The most outrageous action of the DGA was their willingness to try to influence the Republican primary for governor by hiding their identity behind a group called Iowans for Responsible Government. The sum of all the DGA’s actions show just how vulnerable they believe Culver to be this fall.
Branstad is better positioned than any recent Republican candidate for governor. At this same juncture in the 2002 campaign, Doug Gross had just $361,000 cash-on-hand. Gross raised $750,000 that period, 225,000 of that from the RGA. Likewise, after Culver won his contested primary in 2006, he raised $1.4 million, $500,000 of that coming from the DGA. Most of the rest came from a handful of labor unions.
Unlike Culver’s fundraising report, Branstad’s campaign was backed by 2200 contributors, most of whom are from Iowa. Culver being so dependent on the DGA and labor unions is risky because they could easily pull their financial support if Culver’s re-election comes into question.
Funding your campaign with special interest money works only so long as people think you are going to win. For the unions and DGA to continue to make large contributions to Culver’s campaign, he must now show that he has a good shot at being elected. Poll numbers suggest that that might be an impossible task for him.
If Culver’s labor and PAC funding dries up, he is in serious trouble and will run out of money because he lacks any substantial financial support from individual Iowans.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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