Most of the attention in Iowa’s Second Congressional District has focused on 2008 Republican nominee Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and 2008 U.S. Senate nominee Christopher Reed. Both Miller-Meeks and Reed have passionate groups of supporters, and now both candidates find themselves trailing Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje in fundraising by a substantial margin.
Rathje raised $59,130.00 in 2009, the second most of any Republican congressional challenger in the state, and had $46,242.09 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period. Miller-Meeks, the front-runner in the race, raised $20,660.15 in the period. Miller-Meeks gave her own campaign $4,000. Christopher Reed raised a miniscule $2,833.75 in the last quarter of 2009, he has just over $2000 cash on hand.
Rathje’s early fundraising advantage over Miller-Meeks and Reed should enable him to make a credible case to voters and donors in the second district. While Miller-Meeks fundraising number is disappointing, she has proved to be a capable fundraiser in the past. Miller-Meeks raised almost $100,000 in the 2008 primary, and it is likely that she will need to do that or more to be successful in the 2010 primary.
Reed’s lack of fundraising is problematic for his campaign. Unlike the 2008 US Senate primary, which Reed joined late, Reed was the first announced candidate in second district primary. While Reed has strong appeal among social conservatives in the district, he still will need the necessary resources to raise his name ID across the district.
Rathje now finds himself in a strong situation. Not only has he assembled the resources to be competitive in the primary, but his campaign has gained credibility overnight. In the 2008 U.S. Senate primary, Rathje performed better than Reed in the 2nd Congressional District. Rathje garnered 5849 votes in the primary compared to Reed’s 4999. Miller-Meeks, who was also involved in contested primary in the district, received 7372 votes. However, Rathje outperformed both Miller-Meeks and Reed in Linn County. Rathje received 2973 votes, Miller-Meeks had 1604 votes, and Reed garnered 1187 votes.
Rathje’s surprisingly strong fundraising numbers combined with his previous strength in Linn County could prove to be troublesome for Miller-Meeks and Reed. A candidate who can deliver a big margin in Linn County can offset a poor showing in other parts of the district. Rathje’s relatively strong performance in Linn County compared to the other two means that neither of them should underestimate Rathje, especially if he has the resources to run radio and TV ads.
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