The June 8th primary is only 128 days away. Just three months ago, retired airline pilot Dave Funk was the only Republican candidate in the race. As the weather turned cold, Republicans began to sense that seven-term incumbent Congressman Leonard Boswell was on the hot seat. Since then, a number of candidates have joined the race, but only one thus far has put together the necessary funds to take on Boswell – former Iowa State wrestling coach Jim Gibbons.
In the last quarter of 2009, Jim Gibbons out-raised Congressman Boswell and every one of his Republican primary opponents by a significant amount. Gibbons raised a stunning $207,310.00, which included $17,250.00 from political action committees such as the Iowa based American Future Fund, the PAC of Congressman Jim Jordan from Ohio, and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s Keep Our Mission PAC.
Congressman Boswell raised $169,377.64 in the fourth quarter, but $133,400.00 came from political action committees. In fact, of the $582,210.78 that Boswell has raised in 2009, $461,350.00, or 79% of all the money he has raised has come from PACs. In the 2008 cycle, Boswell took over $1 million in contributions from PACs.
It is impressive when any challenger out-raises an incumbent congressman in a fundraising quarter, but for Gibbons to do it in his first quarter as a candidate and to do it in only six week’s time is incredible, especially considering that he did it in a crowed primary field. While Gibbons was able to out-raise Boswell, his primary opponents didn’t come anywhere close to the numbers that Boswell and Gibbons posted.
State Senator Brad Zaun raised $30,600.00, and Dave Funk raised $22,685.00 in the last quarter of 2009. Zaun’s campaign now must raise a substantial amount of money in the first quarter of 2010 in order to compete with Gibbons. While Gibbons has raised the most money, Zaun has been the candidate who seems to be spending the most money early on. Zaun’s campaign has done a round of robo calls, printed placards, produced and aired a TV ad, and TheIowaRepublican.com has been told that he has a poll in the field.
Retired airline pilot Dave Funk, the candidate who has been in the race the longest, has found it difficult to raise funds for his campaign. Since launching his campaign in August, Funk has raised just $46,312.00. In comparison to Zaun and Gibbons, Funk is not well known and has failed to capitalize on the time in which he was the only candidate in the race.
Gibbons initial fundraising push now puts him in a great position over Zaun and Funk with just over four months until the primary. Since joining the race in mid-November, Gibbons and Zaun have been in a contest to establish their respective campaigns as the best positioned to take on Leonard Boswell in the fall. Thus far, Gibbons has the advantage.
Gibbons announced his campaign on November 19th. On the same day, State Senator Brad Zaun told Congressional Quarterly, “My intentions are to run against Leonard Boswell.” Zaun made it official just 15 days later when he announced his campaign from his mom’s hardware store on the south side of Des Moines. Just a few days after Gibbons and Zaun entered the race, national prognosticators quickly changed the rating of the race in Iowa’s 3rd district from “safe democratic” to the more competitive classification of “democrat favored.”
While Gibbons has a almost a seven to one money advantage over his closest competitor, Zaun does boast a 20 year record of community service which started as a member of the city council in Urbandale and continues today in the Iowa State Senate. Zaun brings a clear advantage to his congressional campaign; he is the most known and politically connected candidate in the race. Zaun also already represents a solid Republican district in Polk County, giving him a strong base of support as he builds his campaign.
Gibbons’ primary opponents now must find a way to raise the necessary funds to be competitive with him. While Gibbons isn’t necessarily well known across the district, he already has the necessary funds to run a competitive campaign, and his opponents don’t. Even if Funk or Zaun raised $1000 everyday between now and the primary, they still wouldn’t match what Gibbons currently has in his campaign account.
Running for Congress is a lot different than running for the state legislature or another local office. Congressional campaigns need enough financial resources to run protracted TV and radio advertising campaigns and direct mail. Only one Republican candidate can currently run that type of campaign – Jim Gibbons.
Iowa Congressional Fundraising Totals
1. Jim Gibbons: $207,310.00
2. Bruce Braley: $ 172,670.11
3. Leonard Boswell: $ 169,377.64
4. Steve King: $ 133,291.00
5. Tom Latham: $ 97,625.00
6. Dave Loebsack: $94,479.27
7. Steve Rathje: $ 59,130.00
8. Brad Zaun: $30,600.00
9. Dave Funk: $22,685.00
10. Miller-Meeks: $20,660.15
11. Chrisopher Reed: $2,833.75
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