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February 3rd, 2014

Fundraising Recap: Listen to the Money Talk

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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First Congressional District

It’s no surprise that the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate garners most of the attention in the state, but the Republican primary in the Third Congressional District is also getting a lot of attention as of late.  One race that has avoided the spotlight for much of the year is the Republican primary in Iowa’s First Congressional District.

One of the reasons why the Third District primary is getting so much attention is because candidates are still announcing their candidacy and the race is going to be a sprint to the finish.  The First District race couldn’t be more different.  Two of the three candidates running for the Republican nomination have been in the race for almost a year now, the other has been a candidate since October.

The race pits Dubuque businessman Rod Blum, who was unsuccessful in his 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination, against Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje and State Representative Walt Rogers from Cedar Falls.  The financial filings that were just made public are not going to blow anyone away, but as the race stands today, Blum is the candidate to beat.

Blum ran strong in the 2012 Republican primary against Ben Lange.  His previous campaign helped introduce him to voters in the newly reconstructed district.  Blum raised just $60,935 in the final three months of 2013, but his frugal campaign had a bank balance of over $175,000 at the end of the year, which is $105,000 more than Rogers had in the bank.  Rogers raised twice as much as Blum did in the quarter by raising over $126,000, but he ended the year with just over $70,000 cash-on-hand.

It’s hard to figure out what the third candidates in the race, Steve Rathje, is doing.  A few weeks ago, Rathje ran some radio ads, but his campaign fundraising over the final three months of 2013 was anemic.  Rathje raised just $12,666 in the quarter and ended the year with $49,000 in the bank.  Rathje has assembled an impressive list of endorsees for his campaign, but his campaign activity is sporadic and his fundraising numbers make it appear that he’s not really trying.

Blum finds himself in the catbird seat for First Congressional District race.  While his $105,000 cash-on-hand advantage is not insurmountable, it doesn’t seem as if the dynamics of the race are going to change significantly between now and the June 3rd primary.  Blum already has the funds at his disposal to purchase TV ads in the Cedar Rapids market for multiple weeks.  Rogers on the other hand must kick his fundraising in gear if he wants to be able to go toe-to-toe with Blum.

Blum has been the clear frontrunner since the beginning of the race, and Rogers has done little to change that dynamic thus far.

Second Congressional District

There is only one announced Republican candidate running in the Second Congressional District.  State Representative Mark Lofgren has been a candidate since June, but thus far he’s only raised $91,000 for his campaign, and has a measly $32,000 cash-on-hand.  That’s not good news considering that Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is expected to join the race at any moment.  Lofgren’s inability to mount a serious campaign has only increased the likelihood that another Republican candidate will emerge in the primary.

Third Congressional District

None of the Republican candidates running in the Third Congressional District were announced before the end of the year, thus none of them had to file with the Federal Election Commission.  If anyone is interested, Congressman Latham, who announced his retirement in mid-December, raised over $127,000.  Latham ended the year with a healthy $854,000 in the bank.

Fourth Congressional District

Congressman Steve King raised $162,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

U.S. Senate

The candidates each announced what they raised and how much money they had in the bank at the end of the year, but I’m going to wait until I can see each report before I offer any analysis.  However, the expectations game is already having an impact on the race.  On Sunday, Politico named Joni Ernst as one of its “Cash starved fundraising losers.”

Ernst raised $202,000 in the final three months of 2013, but national observers are expecting her to keep pace with Mark Jacobs and Congressman Bruce Braley.

Politico wrote the following about Ernst:

Ernst, a state senator who is competing for Iowa’s open Senate seat, has the backing of many in the Republican establishment. Yet she has struggled to raise cash.  She brought in only $203,000 during the final three months of last year after only raising about $250,000 during the quarter before.

It’s a problem because her main rival for the nomination, energy company executive Mark Jacobs, has the ability to pour in millions of dollars from his own pocket. It’s also a problem because Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic contender, raised $1 million in the fourth quarter and has $2.6 million on hand.






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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