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May 31st, 2012

Blum Finally Files FEC Report – Reports Show Different Strategies at Work in 1st and 2nd District Races

Six days after he was supposed to file his pre-primary campaign disclosure with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Rod Blum finally made his filing on Wednesday. After looking through the disclosure, one can understand why Blum wasn’t eager to disclose his campaigns fundraising numbers.

Blum raised just $9,270.12 in the abbreviated report period, and a significant chuck of that, $3,300, was an in-kind contribution of a mini van from Mike LaCoste for $2,100, and the $1,200 was an in kind contribution from Blum himself for gas. Not only does the report show that Blum continues to struggle to raise money, but he also lacks financial support from outside of his home area.

The 1st Congressional district is comprised of 20 counties in northeast Iowa. Blum has only received contributions from five of them, Dubuque, Jones, Fayette, Clayton, and Black Hawk for the entirety of his campaign. Worse yet, he’s only received one contribution in each of Jones, Fayette, Clayton, and Black Hawk counties. It’s hard to believe that a candidate like Blum could not find financial support in a county like Linn, which contains the state’s second largest city, Cedar Rapids.

In total, Blum’s campaign has raised $90,171.02, and over 25 percent of that is from his own pocket. Blum’s opponent, Ben Lange, raised $58,175.36 in the fundraising period and has raised a total of $291,542.70 for the campaign. Lange’s report shows financial support from all across the district. People who donate to campaigns are investors, and while there is more to campaigns than just a candidate’s fundraising ability, getting people to buy in to a campaign is critical.

The campaign disclosures for Blum and Lange also confirm why the 1st District primary is a bit sleepy. Lange spent most of his money on campaign staff and a few mailings, radio ads, and paid phone calls. Blum spent his money on a couple of mailers and other miscellaneous items. It appears that Lange doesn’t feel the need to ramp up his primary spending if Blum doesn’t force him to do so.

The primary in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District is a bit different. John Archer and Dan Dolan continue to look like equals in most phases of the campaign as the primary nears. Dolan raised $47,416.00 in the period and has over $110,000 cash on hand. Dolan has loaned his campaign another $75,000 in May, bringing the total he has loaned his campaign to $150,000. Archer raised $37,980.78 for the period and has $61,854.39 cash on hand for the final stage of the primary campaign.

The disclosure reports also show that Archer and Dolan are employing different strategies. Archer’s expenditure report shows that his campaign is spending money on auto calls, radio ads, mail, and TV ads. On the other hand, Dolan looks to be banking the primary entirely on a direct mail program. Thus far, it appears that the Dolan campaign has sent out 13 different mailers.

It will be interesting to see which strategy prevails in the primary. The Archer campaign seems to be doing a little bit of everything, while Dolan is has decided to contact voters directly via the mail. In a district that includes multiple media markets, and spans from the Mississippi River in the eastern part of the state to Interstate 35 in the west, trying to focus resources on a mail campaign isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

In fact, it’s not that odd of a concept. In 2010, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks ran an effective mail campaign to win the 2nd District primary against three other opponents who were spending money on TV ads. Miller-Meeks won the four-way primary with over 47 percent of the vote. Her closest challenger only mustered 20 percent of the vote. However, it is worth noting that Miller-Meeks was the Republican nominee in the district in 2008. Only time will tell if Dolan can make a similar strategy work for him.

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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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