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July 18th, 2013

Congressional Fundraising Recap

On Monday, we got a glimpse of how the congressional candidates are doing in regard to fundraising as they were all required to file their July Quarterly report with the Federal Election Commission.  The candidates for the U.S. Senate have already announced their fundraising totals for the quarter, but we don’t yet know all of the details regarding specific donors.  Archaic rules for U.S. Senate candidates mean that we have to wait until the paper reports can be uploaded to the internet, so it might be a little bit before we can analyze their overall fundraising efforts.

First Congressional District


Rod Blum
Raised $103,107.92
Cash on Hand $98,248.35

Blum’s initial fundraising report looks similar to the initial fundraising report from his 2012 campaign.  Blum put in $30,923.00 of his own money and family members contributed another $15,400.  That mean almost half of the money he raised came from himself or immediate family.  In his 2012 campaign, he gave the campaign $22,288.40 and close family added $20,000 more.

Blum will need to follow up his initial fundraising quarter with another strong showing by raising at least another $100,000 in October.  Some may feel that Blum’s fundraising number isn’t as impressive since he and close family make up a large percentage of what was raised, but a dollar is a dollar, and they all spend the same way.

What I found impressive about Blum’s report is that he’s getting substantial financial support from the Dubuque business community, something that eluded him to some extent in his last campaign.  Dubuque has a strong Republican donor community that goes back to the time when Jim Nussle represented the area in congress.  Those donors were an integral part of Nussle’s congressional and 2006 gubernatorial campaign, and many prominent names are included in Blum’s report.

Steve Rathje
Raised: $52,616.55
Cash on Hand: $65,450.95

Rathje’s approach to his campaign befuddles me.  All but $1765 Rathje raised has came in donations to his campaign of $250 or more dollars.  He basically has 23 or so donors, some of which donated in April, and the rest in late June.  Rathje can clearly make a good campaign pitch since 20 of those contributions are for a $1000 or more.  Most of his contributions are for the maximum amount an individual can give for the primary, $2600.

Most candidates struggle with getting people to write big checks, but Rathje basically has the opposite problem.  Rathje’s report indicates to be that he’s not a full time congressional candidate.  How else can you explain the fact that he didn’t receive one contribution from April 30th to June 10th?  Running for office is a full time job, not a hobby.  If Rathje actually focused on his campaign, I think he could be a factor.  Like Blum, Rathje has received good support from the Cedar Rapids business community, especially from the construction industry.


Pat Murphy
Raised: $81,923.00
Cash on Hand: $124,039.13

As a former Speaker of the Iowa House, I find Murphy’s fundraising ability to be rather unimpressive.  He didn’t receive one contribution for the maximum amount during the fundraising period, and most of his contributions are for $500 or less. It also doesn’t seem like Murphy has much of a fundraising base outside of his home community of Dubuque.  Instead, his strongest fundraising area appears to be Des Moines.

Murphy was the first Democrat to enter the race, but he has done little to prevent other Democrats from entering the race.  It now appears that Murphy will have to deal with a multi-candidate primary, which will be difficult for him to handle unless he can attract some larger donors.

Monica Vernon
Raised: $103,687.00
Cash on Hand: $99,342.20

Keep an eye on Vernon.  When she expressed interest in running for the seat, I dismissed her as a serious candidate.  As a former Republican, I though Democrats may be cool to support a recent convert.  I was clearly wrong.  Chet Culver’s former Chief of Staff John Frew donated to her campaign as did Teresa Vilmain.  Vilmain was Culver’s former campaign consultant and also worked for Hilary Clinton.

As I scanned through Vernon’s report, I had flashbacks to my days as a fundraiser for former Congressman Jim Leach.  Her report is littered with Republican donors who were faithful givers to Leach over the years.  If she is able to re-build the Leach coalition in Linn County, she’s going to be a formidable candidate.

More candidates have emerged after the filing deadline passed.  None of those candidates were required to submit a financial disclosure to the FEC.

Second Congressional District


Mark Lofgren
Raised: $150
Cash on Hand: $150

Lofgren was not required to file a disclosure with the FEC since he basically didn’t raise or spend any money, but he chose to do so any way.  Lofgren announced his candidacy just days before the June 30th deadline.


Congressman Dave Loebsack
Raised: $147,430.97
Cash on Hand: $220,698.66

Third Congressional District


Congressman Tom Latham
Raised: $254,630.00
Cash on Hand: $493,005.16

Latham is a formidable fundraiser and is off to a great start for his re-election bid.  His two Democrat opponents will struggle to raise significant money, and neither  has begun raising funds.

Fourth Congressional District


Congressman Steve King
Raised: $138,765.62
Cash on Hand: $105,777.73

Outside of his race against Christy Vilsack, King has never been a prolific fundraiser.  The good news is that in the most conservative district in the state, he doesn’t need to be.  To all of those who think that the speculation around King running for the U.S. Senate would help him fundraise, you were wrong.  His flirtation with the Senate campaign actually hurt him.  His report shows that he paid for a poll and probably incurred other expenses related to a potential U.S. Senate race as well.

I have always thought that King could be a fantastic fundraiser if he approached things correctly.  While his brand of politics isn’t going to generate him big checks from the business community or from political action committees, conservative activists in Iowa and across the country love him.  He just needs to figure out how to tap into that in a cost-effective way.

King’s Democrat opponent was not required to file. will go through all of the U.S Senate reports when they are all made available in the coming days.

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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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