There is a lot of truth to the old adage that says money is the mother’s milk of politics. The saying dates back the sixties, but it is even more relevant to politics today.
Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014 will probably be the most expensive race in the state’s history. All statewide elections are expensive, but the unlike a gubernatorial race, the 2014 U.S. Senate race will have national implications. Not only will the candidates have to raise more money than ever before, but they also have to raise it in smaller chunks than a gubernatorial candidate due to the federal contribution limits.
Individuals are allowed to donate up to $2,600 to a candidate per election. That means an individual can give up to $5,200 over the entire campaign. Political action committees are allowed to give $5,000 to a candidate for each election, or $10,000 for the entire campaign. No matter how you look at it, raising the money necessary to win Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2016 is going to be difficult.
On Monday, Bruce Braley announced that he has raised $1 million for his U.S. Senate campaign in the first quarter of 2013. We will not know how or from whom Braley raised all the money until the middle of April, but as the presumptive Democrat nominee for the U.S. Senate, his fundraising haul is believable. Raising a million dollars in the first three months of the year is also an impressive accomplishment considering that Braley only raised just over a million dollars for his entire 2008 re-election campaign.
Braley’s early fundraising prowess should serve as a warning to Republicans not to dawdle around in finding a candidate. While it is possible that any eventual GOP candidates could also have impressive fundraising skills, Braley’s head start over his Republican opponent is an advantage that can’t be ignored.
Should Congressman Steve King choose not to run for the seat, it becomes much more likely that Republicans will have a competitive primary. Primaries are not always necessarily a bad thing, but they can cost a lot of money. It appears that Braley will not be challenged in the Democrat primary, which is another big advantage as it allows him plenty of time to travel the state and raise money.
Braley’s candidacy is still in its infancy, and while he hasn’t seemed to generate a lot of buzz yet, the money he has reportedly raised is impressive. Right now, Braley has the clear advantage, but Republicans will be fine so long as they don’t waste too much more time trying to figure out who’s going to run and who isn’t. The Republican logjam needs to clear up sooner rather than later. It’s one thing to give Braley a head start, it’s another thing to let him get too far out front.
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