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July 20th, 2010

Culver’s Fundraising Stalls – Spends More than He Raised

Despite receiving another contribution from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), campaign disclosures filed yesterday show that Governor Culver’s fundraising efforts have stalled.

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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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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