Iowa Congressional 1Q 2016 fundraising news roundup

You’d never guess Representative Steve King was facing a primary challenger backed by Iowans with deep pockets by looking at Federal Election Commission filings alone. King isn’t raising money like an incumbent who’s worried about getting re-elected, and his Republican opponent Rick Bertrand didn’t disclose any fundraising or spending.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from all the first quarter FEC reports from Iowa’s U.S. House candidates. One Democrat out-raised all four of our state’s incumbents, and another Democrat nearly did so.

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IA-02: Dr. Chris Peters is the new Republican challenger to Dave Loebsack

Two days after State Senator Mark Chelgren confirmed that he has decided not to run for Congress this year, Republicans have a new challenger for five-term Representative Dave Loebsack. Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times reported that GOP officials at the Scott County convention said Dr. Chris Peters of Iowa City will run for Congress in the second district. A supporter spoke to Johnson County GOP delegates at today’s county convention on Peters’ behalf. Among the 24 counties in IA-02, Scott and Johnson are the largest by population.

Peters is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon affiliated with a surgery practice in Coralville and the UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital in Waterloo. According to a Bleeding Heartland reader who is active in Republican circles, Peters is aligned with the libertarian wing of the party. I will update this post with more background as it becomes available.

To qualify for the GOP primary ballot, Peters needs to collect and submit to the Iowa Secretary of State by March 18 at least 1,562 signatures from at least twelve of the 24 counties in the Congressional district. Assuming petitions were available for delegates to sign at today’s county conventions, the Peters campaign should have no trouble clearing that hurdle.

The latest official figures indicate that IA-02 contains 160,118 active registered Democrats, 139,960 Republicans, and 180,519 no-party voters. The district has a partisan voter index of D+4, meaning that voters here skewed about 4 percentage points more Democratic than voters nationally in the last two general elections.

UPDATE: John Deeth notes in the comments that Peters ran as a Libertarian against State Senator Bob Dvorsky in 2010, when no Republican filed for that seat. He received about a quarter of the vote.

SECOND UPDATE: Peters posted on Facebook the morning of March 13,

I originally considered running as an Independent candidate, which would have been much more difficult, but perhaps more interesting. Instead, I’m running as a Republican, which should remove significant obstacles, and I am quite pleased that Iowa GOP leaders have thus far encouraged me remain true to my independent views and values. This will be an entirely positive campaign, and a primary focus will be to raise the level of civic discourse, which I believe is greatly deficient at present.

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IA-02: Mark Chelgren will not run for Congress

Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren confirmed today that he has decided not to run for Congress in Iowa’s second district. Chelgren launched his campaign against five-term Representative Dave Loebsack last October but never filed a year-end report on fundraising and expenditures with the Federal Election Commission. I sought comment after Iowa Starting Line’s Pat Rynard reported rumors that Chelgren planned to end his Congressional bid.

Speaking by phone, Chelgren said "I do believe it is a winnable race," but he felt the timing was wrong for his family, since his daughter is 10 years old and his son 15. "While they’re still young, I didn’t want to spend my full time fundraising and campaigning," he explained. Based on conversations with members of Congress and other candidates, he became convinced that those activities would dominate his life if he were elected. "It’s not a question of whether or not I’m afraid to lose, at this point in my life, it’s more, what do I do if I win." Chelgren added that he is only 48 years old and has time to think about running for Congress in the future, when his daughter is older.

Chelgren is not aware of any other Republican ready to challenge Loebsack. To appear on the GOP primary ballot this June as a candidate in IA-02, a Republican would need to submit nominating petitions with at least 1,562 signatures from a minimum of twelve counties in the district by Friday, March 18. Chelgren suggested that a candidate may be nominated at the upcoming second district Republican convention in April.

The 24 counties in IA-02 contain 160,118 active registered Democrats, 139,960 Republicans, and 180,519 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. The district has a partisan voter index of D+4, meaning that voters here skewed about 4 percentage points more Democratic than voters nationally in the last two general elections. In a presidential election year, any Republican would face an uphill battle against Loebsack.

Having won his second four-year term in the Iowa Senate in 2014, Chelgren will be up for re-election to the state legislature in 2018. His seat will surely be a top target for Democrats, who have a voter registration advantage in the district that includes Ottumwa and Fairfield (map enclosed below).

MARCH 11 UPDATE: A libertarian-oriented candidate is rumored to be collecting signatures to file for the Republican primary in the second Congressional district. I do not yet have a name.

Chelgren told me yesterday that he did not have another candidate in mind but he would support any "conservative" Republican running for Congress.

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Iowa Congressional 4Q fundraising news roundup

The Iowa caucuses got in the way of Bleeding Heartland’s usual practice of covering Congressional year-end financial reports soon after the Federal Election Commission’s January 31 filing deadline. In the spirit of "better late than never," highlights on fundraising and spending by the declared Iowa candidates are after the jump.

These numbers explain why last week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee got behind Monica Vernon in the first district primary but declared the third district an "emerging race" without specifying support for any candidate. That said, the New York Jobs PAC gave $1,000 to Jim Mowrer’s campaign in December; that political action committee is affiliated with Representative Steve Israel, who chairs the DCCC.

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2016 RAGBRAI route announced: A short ride across southern Iowa

After two straight years of taking bicyclists across northern parts of the state, the Des Moines Register announced this evening that the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) will cross southern Iowa from July 24 to 30. The route starting in Glenwood and ending in Muscatine will take riders "419.9 miles (third-shortest in the event’s 44-year history), with a total climb of 18,488 feet (making it the 24th flattest)."

Full details on the 2016 route are on the official RAGBRAI website. After the jump I’ve listed the overnight stops, along with daily mileage totals and feet of climb and some political trivia about places riders will visit this summer.

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