IA-01 4Q fundraising news roundup

Last week I never got around to posting highlights from the year-end Federal Election Commission reports for candidates in Iowa’s open first Congressional district. Better late than never.

On the Democratic side, the money race remains highly competitive; all five candidates entered the election year with more than $100,000 to spend before the primary. The Republican race in IA-01 provided another reminder that establishment support does not necessarily translate into strong fundraising.  

Taking the five Democratic candidates in alphabetical order:

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar didn’t match her very strong third quarter but still raised a lot of money for this race. Her campaign reported $180,679.50 in total receipts between October 1 and December 31: $147,630.00 in individual contributions, a $30,000 loan from the candidate, and a total of $3,000 from political action committees (three corporate PACs and the Asian American Action Fund).

By my count, the year-end report lists eight donors who have maxed out to Dandekar’s campaign ($2,600 for the primary, $2,600 for the general election). Dandekar’s third-quarter FEC filing noted at least seven more maxed-out donors. So while the campaign had $262,517.65 cash on hand as of December 31, at least $39,000 of that money is restricted for use during the general election period and cannot be spent before the June 3 primary.

Dandekar’s campaign reported spending $101,192.13 during the last three months of the year. Nothing strange jumped out at me on Dandekar’s itemized expenditures. The largest expense was fundraising consulting, which accounted for about $21,832 of spending during the fourth quarter.

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic raised more than three times as much as she did during the third quarter. Her latest FEC filing shows $120,275.17 in contributions during the last three months of the year: $110,342.17 from individuals and $9,933.00 from political party committees. I was confused by that last number, because I didn’t see any political party committees on the list of itemized contributions. The candidate herself made in-kind gifts worth a total of $5,192.70 in-kind gifts. Prominent individual donors to Kajtazovic include State Senator Jeff Danielson and Tim Dwight, a solar power entrepreneur best known for his football career.

Although the summary page of Kajtazovic’s filing doesn’t show any PAC contributions, the itemized list shows a $5,000 gift from the United Food and Commercial Workers and $500 from the Women Under Forty PAC.

Kajtazovic’s campaign spent $44,523.43 during the fourth quarter on typical expenses, leaving $104,923.70 cash on hand as of December 31. That’s the lowest total for any of the five Democratic candidates in IA-01.

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy improved on his third-quarter fundraising. During the last three months of the year, his Congressional campaign brought in $105,219.02, including $81,385.02 from individuals, $17,750.00 from a range of labor and progressive PACs and $6,084.00 from the candidate himself. Murphy continues to collect campaign gifts from current and former Iowa legislators, including Senate President Pam Jochum, State Senators Tom Courtney and Janet Petersen, State Representatives Mary Gaskill, Curt Hanson, and Roger Thomas, former State Representatives Dick Taylor, John Wittneben and Ray Zirkelbach, and former Senate President Jack Kibbie.

Murphy reported spending $57,177.83 during the last three months of the year, leaving $224,288.25 cash on hand as of December 31. As far as I can tell, he does not have any maxed-out donors, so he can spend his entire campaign account before the primary if desired.

Cedar Rapids-based attorney Dave O’Brien wasn’t able to match his third-quarter fundraising. His campaign brought in $77,971.74 during the last three months of the year; all but $20 came from individuals. His campaign spent $32,849.65 during the reporting period, leaving $124,720.72 cash on hand as of December 31. As far as I can tell, all of those funds are available for O’Brien to spend before the June 3 primary.

Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon reported raising $224,422.40 during the last three months of the year: $80,783.28 from the candidate herself and $143,619.12 from other individuals.

Vernon’s burn rate is high, with $115,824.76 in spending during the fourth quarter on three staffers and a typical mix of campaign expenses.

I counted nine donors who have maxed out to Vernon’s campaign with $5,200 in contributions ($2,600 for the primary, $2,600 for the general election). So while she reported $270,906.33 cash on hand as of December 31, at least $23,400 of that money is restricted for use during the general election period. Vernon’s campaign cannot spend that money before the June 3 primary.

It’s worth noting that Vernon has raised more money for the whole cycle than any other candidate in IA-01. Her year-end filing shows $448,821.70 in total fundraising since she declared her candidacy. She’s given her own campaign $80,783.28 and has raised $368,018.42 from other individuals.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: A Bleeding Heartland reader pointed out that Vernon also gave her own campaign just under $18,000 during the third quarter of 2013. So she has raised around $360,000 from other individuals,  little less than the $374,377.00 Dandekar has raised from other individuals this cycle to date.

Moving to the Republican side:

In late December, Gail Boliver became the fourth declared Republican candidate in IA-01. He is an attorney based in Marshalltown and plans to campaign as a social moderate and fiscal conservative. Boliver won’t need to file a quarterly fundraising report with the FEC until April 15.  

Rod Blum isn’t a powerhouse fundraiser but continues to commit significant funds to his own campaign. Blum for Congress reported raising 60935.86 during the fourth quarter, 18700.38 from the candidate himself and 42235.48 from other individuals. His FEC filing does not show any PAC donations.

Blum kept expenses low, spending just $26,680.73 during the last three months of the year. That left $175,057.31 cash on hand as of December 31, quite a bit more than Blum managed to raise for his unsuccessful 2012 Republican primary campaign. I didn’t see any new maxed-out donors on Blum’s latest report, but about $10,000 of the funds he raised earlier in 2013 can’t be spent until the general election period.

Based on his early departure from the 2012 race in IA-01, I had expected Steve Rathje to quit this campaign by now. But Rathje is hanging in there. How he expects to compete in the primary, I can’t say. His fundraising has never been great, and his burn rate has been a problem since the early months of last year.

Rathje’s year-end FEC filing shows just $12,666.08 in contributions, all from individuals, and $19,886.63 in expenditures. This from a businessman who is sure he can help the government stop spending more than it takes in. As of December 31, Rathje had only $49,668.58 cash on hand. Even worse, at least $26,000 of the campaign’s bank account is restricted for use during the general election period because several donors maxed out last year. Rathje will struggle to run a credible district-wide campaign before the GOP primary.

To put it another way: so far during this election cycle, Rod Blum’s campaign has brought in $225,021.40 and spent only $49,964.09. Rathje’s campaign has brought in a total of $125,029.65 this cycle, but he’s already spent $75,361.07 of it. Not what I would call fiscal responsibility.

The most surprising year-end report for IA-01 came from State Representative Walt Rogers. Given how many Iowa GOP elected officials have endorsed him, plus his contacts as a member of GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2012, plus the public endorsement of former presidential candidate Rick Santorum in October, I expected big numbers.

Rogers’ fundraising during the fourth quarter wasn’t an epic fail like State Representative Mark Lofgren’s effort in IA-02, but it could have been a lot better. The Rogers campaign reported raising $127,284.10 during the last three months of the year, including $126,712.00 from individuals, $500 from the candidate, and just $72.10 from political committees. I would have thought Santorum’s Patriot Voices PAC would kick in a few thousand dollars at least.

Rogers spent $56,677.96 on his Congressional campaign during the fourth quarter, more than Blum spent during almost a full year of campaigning around the district. Looking through the itemized expenditures, I didn’t see anything unusual. But unfortunately for Rogers, he enters the election year with just $70,606.14 cash on hand.

Blum came very close to winning the 2012 GOP primary in IA-01 despite being outspent by Ben Lange. How is Rogers going to beat him when Blum has a financial advantage? I have to agree with Republican blogger Craig Robinson: this primary is Blum’s to lose.

Any comments about the IA-01 campaign are welcome in this thread.

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