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February 2nd, 2011

2010 Campaigns Leave Boswell, Braley, and Loebsack Vulnerable

By Craig Robinson

Despite fielding exceptional candidates, Iowa Republicans were unable to knock off any of the three Democrat members of Congress in 2010.  While Congressmen Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley, and Dave Loebsack celebrated on election night, recent fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that each of them now are extremely vulnerable in the next election.

When you compare each of their end-of-the-year cash-on-hand totals from 2008, to the current end-of-the-year cash-on-hand totals for the 2010 election cycle, the three Democrat members of Congress find themselves lagging behind where they were at this time two years ago.  On the other hand, the Republican members of congress, Tom Latham and Steve King, are far better off than there were at the same time following the 2008 elections.

Congressman Leonard Boswell’s cash-on-hand numbers are down 36% from this time two years ago.  Boswell out-spent his Republican opponent, State Senator Brad Zaun by $875,000 and won re-election by just five points.  Boswell’s poor fundraising numbers are a big concern for him for a couple of reasons.

First, former First Lady of Iowa, Christie Vilsack, has publically stated that she is exploring a Congressional campaign, which could lead to a fascinating Democrat primary.  Second, with Iowa losing a Congressional seat in 2012, Boswell is likely to be redistricted in with another sitting member of Congress.  With only $65,000 in the bank, Boswell is not going to scare off Vilsack or worry Tom Latham, who is the most likely option to be tossed in to a district with him.

Bruce Braley has seen his cash-on-hand number plummet by 90 percent.  Braley squeaked out a narrow victory in November over Republican Ben Lange.  He won re-election by just two points, but only has $28,896 in the bank.  The once rising Democrat star is now relegated to insignificant committees.  With Democrats in the minority in the House for the first time since being elected, Braley is going to struggle at raising money.

The only fundraising advantage Braley still has is that he’s a trial lawyer.  Braley is scheduled to travel to Miami later this week for a campaign fundraiser at the American Association for Justice’s Winter Convention.

If Boswell and Braley’s fundraising numbers seem bleak, Congressman Dave Loebsack’s numbers are downright depressing.  If you take into account the $11,900 worth of outstanding bills that he has yet to pay, Loebsack’s campaign account is $10,000 in the hole.  If you ignore the outstanding bills, Loebsack’s balance stands at a pathetic $1538, meaning his cash-on-hand number is down 99 percent from two years ago.

Congressman Steve King, who has never burned the house down in terms of fundraising, has increase his cash-on-hand number by 20% over his 2008 numbers.  With $215,977 in the bank, King is better off than the three Iowa Democrats.  In regards to redistricting, King is probably the safest member of congress.  Already representing a large rural district, it’s hard to imagine King getting redistricted in with another member of congress.

Congressman Tom Latham is the best positioned to deal with the uncertainty that redistricting can bring.  Latham’s cash-on-hand numbers are up a stunning 763 percent over the same time two years ago.  With $591,043 cash-on-hand, and a powerful seat as the chairman of the subcommittee that is in charge of the Department of Transportation, Latham will not hurt for campaign dollars in the upcoming election cycle.

Latham’s cash-on-hand number is simply impressive.  Having helped candidates raise money for a number of years, nothing is more demoralizing than running against an incumbent who seems to have an unlimited amount money.  Regardless of whether he runs against Boswell, Vilsack, or even Braley, Latham has won tough elections before, and he’s not going to be outspent in 2012.

What’s interesting is that nobody has really talked about Christie Vilsack running for Congress to represent her hometown of Mt. Pleasant.  With Loebsack in the red, and the possibility that he and Braley could be put into the same district, Vilsack might rather run in southeast Iowa than in central Iowa against the Latham juggernaut.

While we wait to see what the new congressional districts look like, the only thing that the incumbent members of congress can do to prepare themselves is to raise money.  Money in the bank is the best deterrent that an incumbent member of congress has.  Not only will it help them deal with representing a new district, but it also helps them fend off serous competition.

Boswell is probably in the worst position.  Not only does he have a well-known Democrat who has connections to the Obama White House (Boswell was a big Clinton supporter in 2008), he also will probably have to face Latham if he can avoid or defeat Vilsack.  His announcement that he plans to seek re-election in 2012 seemed odd considering all of the obstacles with which he will have to deal.

Braley and Loebsack, on the other hand, are not going to scare anybody.  They barley won their 2010 campaigns, have little or no money in the bank, and their districts are going to get more rural, which is good news for their Republican challengers.

If Republicans hadn’t run quality campaigns against Loebsack and Braley, it’s likely that they would have plenty of money in the bank to help them deal with redistricting.  While Miller-Meeks and Lange didn’t win their campaigns, they might have softened up Braley and Loebsack for whoever runs against them in 2012.

2010 Year-End Cash On Hand

Braley: $28,896

Loebsack: $1,538 (Debts of $11,900)

Boswell: $65,276

Latham: $591,043

King: $215,977

2008 Year-End Cash On Hand

Braley – 287,788.33

Loebsack – 107,558.37

Boswell – 102,548.57

Latham – $68,474.19

King – $180,004

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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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