Conlin assembling Senate campaign

The Quad-City Times reports today that Roxanne Conlin is “in the midst of putting together a [U.S. Senate] campaign” and will file papers with the Federal Election Commission next week. She seems to have hired at least one campaign staffer already; the newspaper quotes Mark Daley as Conlin’s spokesman.

I expect Conlin to raise large sums of money quickly once she has formed a campaign committee, but she has a ways to go to become competitive with Senator Chuck Grassley. He had $4.4 million cash on hand at the end of the third quarter, and there will be plenty more where that came from. During this election cycle alone, Grassley has raised more than $1.6 million in individual contributions and $1.9 million from political action committees. Health care and insurance interests have generously supported him:

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) has raised $154,350 in campaign donations in the 3rd quarter of 2009 from health care interests, including $43,590 from health insurance interests, according to research conducted by the campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund. Grassley serves as the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which voted out a health care reform bill earlier this year.

Over his career, Grassley has raised at least $3.3 million from the health care and insurance industries during his time in Washington, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Sen. Grassley was showered with health industry contributions while the Finance Committee was meeting to discuss health care legislation,” said David Donnelly, national programs director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “Insurance PACs and executives wanted Grassley to oppose health care reform, and that’s what they got.”

Last week Cityview’s Civic Skinny expressed doubts that Conlin can raise $10 million without taking any money from lobbyists or PACs. $10 million might be a tall order, but Conlin has plenty of major donor contacts around the country, not to mention potential support from small donors who got fed up with Grassley this summer. Conlin probably won’t be able to match Grassley dollar for dollar, but she certainly will raise enough to stage a credible statewide campaign.

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