With the first quarter fundraising numbers now in, we can begin to analyze what it all means. The fundraising quarter that was just completed is a crucial one. The money that each candidate was able to raise allows them create a budget for how much they can spend in the closing month of their campaign.
If a campaign only has $20,000 cash-on-hand, it’s a waste of time drafting a plan that spends $100,000. To be frank, time is running out for a lot of these campaigns. If you don’t have money in the bank, it’s impossible to run a disciplined and well thought out campaign. Instead, they can only fund their direct mail, TV, or radio ads on a week-to-week basis based on what checks come through the door.
What’s fascinating about the numbers that were released yesterday is that the congressional primary with the most fireworks will be in Iowa’s 2nd District, not the 3rd District like most expected. In the 3rd District, Jim Gibbons has the ability for one heck of a fireworks display, while his opponents are going to be running around the park with a few sparklers.
To put it the 3rd District race in perspective, Mark Rees, Dave Funk, and Brad Zaun raised $85,502.25 combined in the 1st quarter. Gibbons raised almost twice that amount by himself. Making matters worse for his opponents is the fact that they only have $82,327.92 cash-on-hand to spend combined. Gibbons has three times that amount with $265,343.76 in the bank.
In addition to releasing his fundraising numbers, State Senator Brad Zaun also released the results from his internal poll. The poll shows Zaun with a commanding lead, but it also shows that almost 60% of the primary electorate is undecided. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which candidate will have the ability to communicate to all of those undecided voters.
Many people expected the 3rd District race to comedown to a Gibbons vs. Zaun slugfest. What might happen is a classic conservative vs. moderate race between Gibbons and Mark Rees.
While Rees only raised $10,200 in the last quarter, his campaign manager told the Iowa Republican that Rees has set aside $200,000 for his campaign. Thus far, he has only given his campaign $50,000. If Rees follows through and gives his campaign the remaining $150,000 he will be able to pay for media across the district.
If a fireworks show is what you are looking for, then you would be wise to head to Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District and enjoy the spectacle over there.
Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the 2008 2nd CD nominee, raised the most money from individuals in the 1st quarter, but newcomer Rob Gettemy has the most money to spend thanks to a $100,000 loan he gave to his campaign. While everyone focuses on how much money candidates raise, the most important number headed into primary day is, how much can they spend.
Gettemy leads the cash-on-hand race by $50,000 over Miller-Meeks. While it’s true that he gave his campaign all of that money, it all spends the same as if he raised it. The only question that remains is, will he actually do it?
Gettemy has over $120,000 to spend, Miller-Meeks has $70,000, Rathje has $55,000, and Reed has $11,000. In the 2nd CD, it’s conceivable that Gettemy, Miller-Meeks, and Rathje will all spend about the same amount on the primary, which makes this a fun race to watch.
Steve Rathje has been the surprise fundraiser in the race this far, and it’s conceivable that he will be able to continue to raise money. A quick look at Miller-Meeks contributions shows that she could easily go back to her existing donors and get a quick infusion of cash if she needed it. The wild card is Gettemy, but with the least amount of name ID in the district, he has to outspend his opponents if he wants to win.
While I think the other campaigns want to ignore Christopher Reed, I actually think he will play a major role in this primary. It will be difficult for him to win, but I think his presence in the race almost guarantees that the nominee will be determined at a nominating convention.
For that to happen, I think Reed only needs to pull 15% of the vote, which would leave the other three candidates left to split the remaining 85%. With all three candidates basically having the same resources to spend, it will be difficult for any candidates to surpass the 35% threshold needed to win the nomination outright.
While the fundraising numbers are not the same, this race is starting to look more and more like the 2002 congressional race in the 5th district. The only thing missing is a conservative candidate of Steve King’s stature. In that race, three of the four candidates were equally funded, and King had a lot of help from the folks at the Club for Growth.
This race is going to be a lot of fun to watch, and I’ll put money on it going to convention where anything can happen.
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