Branstad and Culver release partial fundraising numbers

Yesterday Terry Branstad’s campaign released some information about its fundraising during the last three months of 2009. As I’d feared, they reported big numbers: nearly $1.55 million raised, with $1.36 million cash on hand left at the end of 2009. You can make a lot of contacts in four terms as governor, and Branstad’s campaign had 3,044 individual contributors, representing all of Iowa’s 99 counties. The campaign also noted that 94 percent of the money raised came from Iowans, and 96 percent came from individuals.

Governor Chet Culver’s campaign responded by announcing that it has $2.59 million on hand:

That total is over $1 million more than any incumbent governor has had at a similar point in their reelection cycle. […]

Over the past 12 months, the campaign received contributions from well over 1,000 donors, 85% of which are Iowa residents.  Additionally, more than half the contributions made to the campaign were for $250 or less.

Culver campaign manager Abby Curran told me that the total amount raised during 2009 was $2.145 million. She declined to tell me how much the campaign spent during the year, but it’s not hard to arrive at a ballpark figure. Last January, Culver’s campaign reported having about $1.5 million on hand. Adding $2.145 million to that and subtracting the $2.59 million the campaign has on hand now suggests that the governor’s campaign spent a little more than $1 million during the past year.

I’ve been concerned about the Culver campaign’s burn rate for a while. It appears that as in 2008, the campaign spent roughly half of what it took in during 2009. Presumably a lot of that money went toward running this statewide television ad in October and this one in November. I liked the ads, especially the second one, and I understand why they wanted to spread a positive message when the governor was going through a rough political stretch. But Culver and Jim Nussle raised about $15 million combined during the 2006 campaign, and this year’s race will be more expensive. The Democratic and Republican governors’ associations are likely to spend substantial money here (both organizations have a lot of money in the bank). Even so, Culver needs to raise a lot more money.

Another point of concern is that Branstad has more individual donors. If half of Culver’s donations were for $250 or less, then the overwhelming majority of his money came from donors giving several thousand dollars. Iowa has no campaign contribution limits, so there’s no reason these people couldn’t give again, but Culver has a smaller pool of past donors to tap. In my opinion this reflects the governor’s failure to build strong coalitions and deliver on various issues of importance to Democratic activists who supported Ed Fallon or Mike Blouin in the 2006 primary. The friction between him and organized labor hasn’t helped either.

The good news for Culver is that he can continue to build his war chest while Branstad is forced to spend a lot of money during the Republican primary.

Speaking of which, the other Republican candidates for governor haven’t released their fundraising numbers yet. They must file reports with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board by January 19, so we’ll know more next week. I assume State Representatives Chris Rants and Rod Roberts will have very little cash on hand, and Bob Vander Plaats won’t have nearly as much as Branstad reported. But Vander Plaats should be able to announce a credible number. At this point in the 2006 election cycle he had raised nearly a million dollars. Thanks to the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, Vander Plaats received much more publicity among social conservatives nationwide last year than he had in 2005.

Any thoughts about the Iowa governor’s race are welcome in this thread.

  • Branstad's numbers

    Branstad’s numbers do not surprise me and Culver’s are still solid.  Is it possible that Culver faces a primary challenge from that minister out of Des Moines?  I hope he wouldn’t have to spend much money on that, but you never know.  

    • not from the minister

      but Jonathan Narcisse is thinking about a primary challenge, or an independent bid for governor. He announced that on December 24, and I didn’t get around to writing up the post because of holiday craziness.

      I don’t think Culver would have to spend a lot of money against Narcisse, but he may feel pressure to spend some money on positive ads this spring anyway because the Republicans are about to spend five more months beating up on him.

      You may be thinking of Keith Ratliff, who is a pastor and heads the Iowa/Nebraska NAACP. He endorsed Vander Plaats in the fall.

      • Narcisse

        I don’t think Narcisse will run against Culver. He knows that’s a race he can’t win and won’t get anything positive from.

        My guess is that he will run as an independent. Kind of a Chris Daggett “plague on both your houses” candidate.

  • You're right

    I did think Narcisse was a minister by getting him mixed with Ratliff, my apologies and thank you for the correction.  

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