IA-01: First-quarter fundraising news roundup

Since the last quarterly fundraising reports came in, the Republican primary race in Iowa’s open first Congressional district has settled into a predictable win for Rod Blum. The Democratic primary is still highly competitive, though, with all five candidates in a position to run a district-wide race before June 3.  

Let’s take the Republicans first. State Representative Walt Rogers, an establishment favorite, bailed out of this campaign in order to seek a third term in the Iowa House. Looking at his FEC filing, it’s easy to see why. Rogers raised $21,868.00 from individuals during the first quarter, but his campaign made $71,788.17 in expenditures (not counting refunds). His campaign website boasted of helping build a “Smaller, Smarter” government, but Rogers needed a smaller, smarter campaign. He spent way too much on salaries, rent, consulting, and other expenses. (In contrast, Rod Blum ran his first Congressional campaign on a shoestring and nearly won the primary in the process.)

Rogers reported $18,200 in contribution refunds. Those went to seven people who had each donated the maximum amount of $5,200 ($2,600 for the primary and $2,600 for the general election). Since Rogers won’t be the nominee, he has to return money restricted for use in the general.

All of Rogers’ other campaign donors are out of luck, including those who donated only a few days before he officially ended his Congressional bid. He and his staff presumably knew the end was coming before those last few fundraisers.

Blum is in the driver’s seat, raising $77,710.09 during the first quarter. Of that amount, $20,120.78 came from the candidate himself, $56,089.31 came from other individuals, and $1,500 from the National Community Pharmacists Association PAC. Including in-kind contributions, Blum has put more than $84,000 into his latest Congressional campaign.

Blum’s campaign spent $42,000.18 from January through March, leaving $210,767.22 cash on hand as of March 31. At the same point in the 2012 campaign, Blum had only $71,020.76, with $10,000 restricted for use after the primary. (He lost that primary to Ben Lange.)

Steve Rathje is barely in the IA-01 race. His campaign raised $22,689.07 during the first quarter, all from individuals. He spent $38,639.15 on various campaign expenditures, leaving $33,718.50 cash on hand at the end of March. Unfortunately for Rathje, at minimum $26,000 of his campaign funds are restricted for use during the general election period. He will have trouble getting his message out before the primary.

At this writing, I have not seen a FEC first-quarter filing for Gail Boliver, the moderate Republican running in IA-01. I doubt he will be a major factor in the primary, as he joined the race late and has donated to Democrat Bruce Braley in the past.

Moving to the Democrats, in alphabetical order. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar took in $180,773.60 in net contributions during the first quarter, very close to her total for the previous quarter but less than she raised during the first few months of her campaign. From January through March, Dandekar put $3,163,20 into her own campaign and raised $170,380.40 from other individuals, plus $8,250 from political action committees.  

Dandekar spent heavily during the first quarter, $154,594.99 on a range of typical expenditures. Even with the heavy spending, she had $289,716.26 cash on hand as of March 31. That’s plenty for direct mail and broadcast advertising district-wide, though Dandekar has a lot of baggage to overcome with some parts of the Democratic base.

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic reported $92,564.63 in net contributions during the first quarter, all but $1,000 from individuals. That’s a little less than her fourth-quarter fundraising. Her campaign started sending direct-mail pieces in March, which accounts for some of the $104,844.15 in expenditures. I was surprised to see that Kajtazovic spent $26,900 on polling during the quarter. As of March 31, her campaign had $92,644.18 cash on hand. The only debts are owed to the candidate herself.

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy reported raising $100,257.08 during the reporting period. Of that total, $84,777.08 came from individuals and $15,000 came from a range of PACs. Murphy’s fundraising was similar during the last three months of 2013.

Murphy’s campaign spent $92,041.25 from January through March, including $25,200 on polling. That left $232,504.08 cash on hand at the end of the quarter.  

Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien isn’t as well-known as some of his rivals but has done well in the fundraising department. During the first quarter his campaign reported raising $114,202.62, an improvement on his first few months in the race as well as the last three months of 2013. The report shows 107125 in individual contributions, $5,000 from political action committees, and 2077.62 from the candidate. O’Brien’s campaign spent $72,239.06 from January through March, leaving $184.709.49 cash on hand. The campaign also owes $22,500 in debts for polling, and last year O’Brien loaned his own campaign $18,000.

Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon’s campaign reported raising $194,707.11 during the first quarter, but $90,000 of the total came from the candidate herself. Vernon was the first candidate in this race to go up on television, and she just launched her second tv ad this week. That explains part of the $184,436.14 in expenditures during the first quarter. Vernon’s campaign also spent more than $20,000 on polling. As of March 31, she had $281,177.30 cash on hand, enough for a strong media effort before June 3.

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

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