The latest round of financial reports for Iowa statewide candidates are available on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board website, and once again Republican attorney general candidate Brenna Findley has turned in strong numbers. Thanks to transfers totaling $547,500 from the Republican Party of Iowa, Findley raised $756,617 between July 15 and October 14. During the same period, Democratic incumbent Tom Miller raised $243,326. The huge support from the Iowa GOP allowed Findley to spend more than twice as much as Miller during the reporting period ($661,252 to $298,604). Most of each candidate’s spending went toward advertising: $564,000 for Findley and $225,000 for Miller. Findley has been up on statewide radio for a month and started running television commercials before Miller did. To my knowledge, Miller has not done any radio advertising. Lynn Campbell listed the largest donors to the Findley and Miller campaigns at IowaPolitics.com.
The state party’s massive support for Findley is striking. Republicans have not run a strong challenger against Miller for ages. The party didn’t even nominate a candidate for attorney general four years ago. Also, the Iowa GOP did essentially nothing for state treasurer candidate Dave Jamison or secretary of state candidate Matt Schultz. Jamison received contributions from several of Findley’s high-dollar individual donors and some of the same political action committees backing her (including those created by potential presidential candidates), but the only direct support from the Republican Party came from some GOP county central committees. Schultz received donations from some of those presidential candidate PACs but even less than Jamison from the county central committees and “usual suspect” individual donors.
One could argue that Findley earned the party’s backing through her strong fundraising. She reported far more donations in May and July than the other Republican challengers for statewide offices. Without any financial support from the Iowa GOP, Findley would still have been competitive with her opponent’s contributions and cash on hand totals. She has been an energetic campaigner all year, and serving as Representative Steve King’s top staffer for seven years probably opened a lot of doors for her in terms of fundraising.
Jamison raised $60,479.25 between July 15 and October 14. That was more than the $32,070.52 State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald raised during the same period, but Fitzgerald had $94,073.48 cash on hand as of October 14 compared to $14,608 for Jamison. Schultz raised $25,903.60 since the July disclosure reports, while Secretary of State Michael Mauro raised $52,862.51. Mauro had $64,267 on hand as of October 14, while Schultz had $7,000.94 on hand and $18,174.77 in unpaid bills to himself. If I were Jamison or Schultz, I’d be upset to be ignored by the state party that gave Findley more than half a million dollars. A hundred thousand or two for Jamison and Schultz would have been enough for a bare-bones paid advertising campaign.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad has been praising Findley at just about every campaign stop for months. He makes a brief appearance in one of her tv ads too. Before the June primary, I thought perhaps Branstad was singling out Findley because there were competitive GOP primaries for the other offices. However, even after winning their primaries Jamison and Schultz haven’t received as much attention or help from Branstad as Findley has.
Bleeding Heartland readers, share your own thoughts about the Iowa Republican establishment’s strong support for Findley in this thread.
Final note on the attorney general’s race: Findley and Miller debated yesterday in Iowa City. You can read about the highlights at the Des Moines Register blog, WCCC.com, Radio Iowa and IowaPolitics.com. Unfortunately, the debate won’t be broadcast on Iowa Public Television, but Mediacom cable subscribers can watch it on channel 22 at 2 pm on October 26 and 11 am on October 31. In the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City market, Mediacom subscribers can watch the debate at 7 am on October 24, 8 pm on October 25 or 7 am on October 31.