One of Representative Dave Loebsack’s three Republican challengers just announced that starting today, he will be campaigning full-time in Iowa’s new second Congressional district.
John Archer posted this message on Facebook:
Good morning. As of today, John is hitting the campaign trail full time. Working away bright and early.
When I called Archer’s campaign office, a representative confirmed that Archer is taking a leave of absence from his job as senior counsel for Deere and Company.
Archer has raised more money for his campaign so far than the other two Republican candidates in IA-02, Dan Dolan and Richard Gates. However, Dolan ended 2011 with more cash on hand than Archer and has the ability to self-fund, having already loaned his campaign $75,000 and donated $20,000.
Both Archer and Dolan have a base in the Quad Cities area (Scott County), so improving their name recognition around the district will be important. Both have made many public appearances around southeast Iowa in recent months, as has Gates. Scott County is the largest by far in terms of population, and nearly 20,000 registered Republicans live in Johnson County (Iowa City and Coralville area), but those two counties aren’t as dominant as they seem, Craig Robinson observed earlier this month.
The conventional wisdom is that the candidates will need to perform well in Scott and Johnson County. Those two counties make up 28 percent of the primary vote, but that is nothing compared to how Linn and Johnson Counties dominated the old 2nd District. Those two counties made up 46 percent of the primary vote in the old district.
There is no doubt that Scott and Johnson Counties will be prime ground on which the primary campaign will be waged, but the new district allows campaigns to carve out many different routes to a nomination win that the old 1st and 2nd Districts never really allowed.
I expect Archer and Dolan to have the funds for district-wide paid media before the June primary. Archer already ran a television commercial on Fox News cable the night of the Iowa caucuses in the following markets: Quad Cities, Iowa City, Ottumwa, Burlington, Pella, Newton, and Chariton.
All three of Loebsack’s challengers are emphasizing similar conservative themes about taxation and government spending. No one is playing for the moderate niche, which makes sense in a competitive Republican primary. However, the eventual nominee in IA-02 will need to appeal to moderates and no-party voters in order to beat an incumbent in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 30,000.
Any comments about the IA-02 race are welcome in this thread.