For the first time in Iowa history, multiple gubernatorial candidates are airing television commercials four and a half months before the primary. Fred Hubbell's campaign launched its fourth statewide tv ad last week, while the first spot for Democratic rival Nate Boulton hits the screens today in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets. UPDATE: Cathy Glasson has placed a television ad buy too. Iowa Starting Line reported today that committees affiliated with the Service Employees International Union have donated $1,819,931 to Glasson's campaign already.
The new Hubbell ad references the themes of his campaign's first three spots: support for Planned Parenthood, mental health funding, and better economic development practices. (Bleeding Heartland published those videos here, here, and here.) Boulton's commercial highlights his role leading the opposition to Republican efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights during last year's legislative session. Scroll down for details on both ads.
Hubbell has been on the air for months, having raised well over $1 million since last summer. Boulton's campaign war chest is likely to be substantially smaller--we'll know for sure when all the 2017 finance reports are published later this week. While candidates normally conserve their cash to use on television and radio spots closer to the primary, Boulton has good reason to spend some money now.
The Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses are coming up on Monday, February 5. Caucus-goers will elect county convention delegates, who in turn will select district and state delegates at county conventions on March 24. With seven Democrats running for governor, state convention delegates may end up selecting the nominee on June 16, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary.
Normally, division into preference groups at Iowa caucuses happens only during presidential years. But this year, Democrats will have the option of dividing into preference groups at precinct caucuses. Where that occurs, county convention delegates will be awarded to preference groups of viable candidates. (Bleeding Heartland explained here how the viability threshold works.)
Caucus-goers with a strong preference in the governor's race might push for dividing into preference groups to ensure that county convention delegates will be committed to their candidate. There is also a crowded Democratic primary for Congress in the third district. However, party rules allow precincts to divide into preference groups only once. That could be for gubernatorial or Congressional candidates, or based on some issue disconnected from a competitive primary. I would guess that the governor's race will drive most of the action where preference groups are formed.
Side note: the Iowa Democratic Party has already apportioned county convention delegates for each precinct across the state and determined how many state convention delegates each county will receive. Those numbers are based largely on how many votes were cast in each precinct and each county for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election and for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch in the 2014 general election.
Hubbell's fourth television commercial is called "Delivering for Iowa."
Female voice-over: Fred Hubbell spent his life delivering for Iowa. [viewer sees footage of Hubbell talking to someone, with cornfield in background]
Fred and Charlotte believe women need access to quality health care, so they helped buy a building to open a new Planned Parenthood clinic in Dubuque, [footage of Fred and Charlotte Hubbell walking together, then seated with two young women in a restaurant; then a photo of Planned Parenthood's Dubuque clinic, with words "fighting for women's healthcare" on screen]
finance new mental health beds when the state slashed funding, [image of corridor in medical facility, then a close-up of a caregiver holding another person's hand; words on screen "Fred Hubbell support for more mental health treatment"]
and Fred helped clean up the film tax credit scandal. [footage of Hubbell from when he stepped in to lead the Iowa Department of Economic Development during the Culver administration; words on screen "Fred Hubbell ending taxpayer funded giveaways"]
Today, he’s speaking out against reckless tax giveaways like Apple. [footage of Hubbell speaking to rally and shot of a building with an Apple Corporation logo; words on screen "Fred Hubbell ending taxpayer funded giveaways"]
Fred Hubbell has delivered for Iowa before, and has the vision to get it growing the right way. [footage of Hubbell talking with young people; closing shot has Hubbell standing in front of the cornfield, with campaign logo visible on screen]
Nate Boulton's opening tv ad is called "Voice."
Male voice-over: February 2017. Without warning, Republicans move to eliminate decades-old laws protecting Iowa workers. ["FEBRUARY 2017" appears on screen against black background, then images of state capitol, with words on screen "GOP strips powers from public workers," The Gazette, 2/16/17]
But throughout the night, a new voice fights back. [words A NEW VOICE FIGHTS BACK appear against black background]
Nate Boulton. As senator, Boulton went toe to to with Branstad and Reynolds, [footage of Boulton speaking to protesters in the capitol rotunda and on the Iowa Senate floor during the 2017 session; words on screen NATE BOULTON STATE SENATOR "Leading the Democratic Opposition" The Hawk Eye, 5/5/17]
defending cops and teachers, protecting health care against corporate giveaways and cuts to schools. [more footage of Boulton during last year's legislative session]
Now, he's running for governor [footage of Boulton shaking hands and talking with people at events, words NATE BOULTON FOR GOVERNOR on screen]
A new generation of leadership for Iowa. [footage of Boulton speaking to a group with an American flag in the background. Words NATE BOULTON A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERSHIP on screen]
Boulton for Iowa. [shot of the candidate with NATE BOULTON FOR GOVERNOR on screen]
Top image: Screen shot from Nate Boulton's opening television commercial.