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January 21st, 2014

Underwhelming Fundraising Numbers for Statewide Democratic Candidates

Back in May, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch told reporters that he wanted to raise at least one million dollars by the end of the year.  Hatch didn’t even come close to raising that kind of money.

Hatch recently reported that his campaign raised $299,000 and that he and his wife had loaned the campaign another $140,000.  Hatch had told the media last month that he had loaned his campaign $200,000.  Why Hatch mislead the media is a mystery, but many at the time assumed that he was simply trying to keep other Democrats out of the primary.

To say that Hatch is off of the fundraising pace he established for himself back in May is a huge understatement.  Even if Hatch had actually raised the million dollars he thought he could, he would still be the biggest of underdog.  Republican Governor Terry Branstad not only enjoys good job approval numbers, but also a healthy balance in his campaign’s bank account.  Branstad raised $3.4 million in 2013 and had over $4 million in the bank before he officially announced he would seek re-election.

Hatch’s anemic fundraising numbers are problematic for Iowa Democrats.  Not only is Branstad well liked and respected by most Iowans, but running a token opposition against him allows his campaign to generalize its message which should help Republicans win over independent and no party voters.  Furthermore, Branstad having a weak general election opponent allows him to go into cheerleader mode to help elect other Republicans up and down the ballot.  This is good news for Republican congressional candidates, statewide candidates seeking election for the first time, and legislative candidates.

The fundraising numbers for other Democrat statewide candidates are not nearly as impressive as some people thought they would be.  Democrat Secretary of State candidate Brad Anderson was billed as the Democrats’ super candidate.  Almost as soon as he entered the race, there was speculation that he was raising big money for the race.  As late as a couple weeks ago, the rumor that was making its way through political circles was that Anderson would report raising more than $400,000.

Anderson didn’t even come close to raising $400,000.  He reported raising a respectable $152,000.  While that is good money for a challenger candidate, it’s far from the type of money that it would take to depress Republicans chances at holding on to the seat.  With Hatch not being much of a help to the statewide Democratic ticket, Anderson is going to need more than $150,000 to build his name ID across the state.

Anderson’s $152,000 raised isn’t going to phase Paul Pate, the lone Republican seeking the Secretary of State’s office either.  Pate, a successful businessman, has the ability to fund a large portion of his campaign should that become necessary.  Besides being on a much stronger statewide ballot than Anderson, Pate also has the advantage of already having held the office before.  Pate’s statewide name ID has faded in the years that he wasn’t on the ballot, but being able to talk about what the job actually entails is another advantage.

Democrat State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald flirted with the idea of running for governor, but ultimately decided to seek re-election.  Fitzgerald has a mediocre $59,000 in the bank, but with no Republican challenger announced, raising a lot of money isn’t required of him.  Democrat Attorney General Tom Miller also currently doesn’t have a Republican opponent.  Miller is probably the best-positioned statewide candidate. Miller has $172,000 in the bank after raising $158,000 in 2013.

Miller was obviously a little worried about drawing another Republican opponent after Republicans spent millions trying to unseat him in the 2010 election.  Republicans learned how difficult it was to knock off an entrenched statewide officeholder in 2010.  Matt Schultz was able to knock off a first term Secretary of State, but they didn’t come close to knocking off Miller or Fitzgerald.

Democrats seem to be pinning all their 2014 hopes on U.S. Senate candidate,  Congressman Bruce Braley.  Braley has been a strong fundraiser over the past year, but he’s going to need every dollar he raises for his own race.  Having Braley on the top of the ticket isn’t like having Branstad on the top of the Republican ballot.  Branstad is universally known statewide.  Braley is not.  Branstad is a more centrist politician, Braley is a liberal.  Braley’s going to have the money he needs to run a good U.S. Senate campaign, but that cannot be said for the rest of the Democrat candidates.

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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