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July 16th, 2010

The Money Pit: The DGA Keeps Spending Money to Save Culver

Documents filed yesterday with the Internal Revenue Service show that the group named “Iowans for Responsible Government” (IRG) was funded entirely by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).  The DGA gave over $782,000 to the group, which attacked Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad in the weeks leading up to the Republican primary.

Ironically, the DGA blasted Branstad by comparing him to President Obama, Bill Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi.  To date, the DGA has invested a staggering $2 million in Culver’s re-election, and all they have to show for it is an unpopular incumbent who is trailing in the most recent Rasmussen poll by 26 points.

The Branstad campaign was quick to pounce on the news that it was actually the DGA attacking Branstad in the primary, not Iowans.

“Donors and strategists in the DGA have to be shaking their heads at why they not only spent nearly $800,000 against Terry Branstad – but as to why they spent that money smearing Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi as well,” said Branstad 2010 campaign manager Jeff Boeyink. “Iowans saw right through their distortions, and if Culver won’t reject the efforts of the DGA, it’s clear Iowans are ready to reject his reckless, irresponsible management this November.”

Very few Iowans actually donate to the DGA, but a quick look through their donations did uncover a couple of familiar names. James C. Hormel, and David Bohnett, two gay rights activists, who have contributed to Culver’s campaign, made sizable contributions to the DGA.  In fact, in the last year, Bohnett has contributed $100,000 to the group.

In a move to artificially inflate Culver’s off-year fundraising totals, the DGA gave his re-election campaign $500,000 in 2009.  They gave an additional $750,000 to his campaign before the May filing.

While the DGA’s early financial support for an incumbent was out of character for a national group that usually directs resources in the general election to campaigns that are in tight contests, their decision to spend another $782,000 to try to influence the Republican primary has proven to be a waste of money.

There is no doubt that the ad campaign the DGA waged against Branstad in the primary affected the Republican primary results.  The DGA spent more in a month and a half than Bob Vander Plaats spent for his entire campaign against Branstad, which spanned over two years.  Still, Branstad was able to garner half of the primary vote and won by a comfortable 10-point margin.

After seeing how aggressive the DGA has been in Iowa during the Republican primary, one has to wonder how long it will continue to pour money into what looks like a losing effort.

People also need to remember that Culver himself has spent a considerable amount of money on television ads this year. was told that he has spend an estimated $300,000 on ads attacking Branstad.

When you take a step back and look at the DGA and Culver’s actions, it becomes apparent that they are desperately trying to move the numbers in Culver’s favor.  This is imperative because Culver and his advisors know that if they can’t show that they are competitive with Branstad, the support he has seen from the DGA will vanish.

If that happens Culver is toast.

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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