IA-04: Steve King out-raised again

There can’t be many entrenched U.S. House incumbents with smaller campaign war chests than Representative Steve King. For the second quarter in a row, J.D. Scholten, one of three Democrats running in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district, raised more money than the eight-term Republican.

Although King slightly increased his fundraising compared to the last quarter of 2017, his cash on hand is less than a third of Scholten’s. Follow me after the jump for highlights from all the IA-04 candidates’ Federal Election Commission filings, which were due on April 15.

King’s complacency may stem from the knowledge that IA-04 is the state’s most GOP-leaning district by far, with some 72,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats across the 39 counties. (Click here to view a district map.) Donald Trump won 60.9 percent of the vote in the district in November 2016, and King took about the same share, 61.2 percent against Kim Weaver.

The incumbent reported raising $124,216.81 during the first quarter of 2018, of which $92,676.81 came from individuals and $31,540.00 from various corporate or conservative political action committees. The largest donor was right-wing hawk John Bolton’s PAC, which gave a total of $10,000, followed by the Koch Industries PAC, which gave $4,000. Although King’s latest haul exceeded the $87,543.50 his campaign raised during the last three months of 2017, it’s a small figure for a long-serving member of Congress.

King’s burn rate was high as well. His campaign spent $100,761.18 during the latest reporting period. The largest expenses were salaries for his son and daughter-in-law, who are his main staffers, consulting fees, printing, and digital marketing. As of March 31, King’s campaign had $76,034.46 cash on hand–a very low number for an incumbent, though a little better than the $52,578.83 in his bank account at the end of 2017.

At this writing, IA-04 Republican primary challenger Cyndi Hanson has not filed a first-quarter FEC report. Her campaign brought in just $5,771.53 during 2017, mostly from the candidate and her father. State Senator Rick Bertrand managed about 35 percent of the vote when he ran against King in the 2016 GOP primary, but he raised more than $50,000 for that race, with support from some high-powered Republican donors.

Of the three Democrats seeking the nomination in IA-04, J.D. Scholten continues to lead in fundraising. His campaign had raised an impressive $169,620.30 in the fourth quarter of 2017 and brought in $211,597.63 during the latest reporting period. Individual donors from all over the country gave Scholten $208,966.48 from January through March, more than double what King raised from individuals during the same period. Scholten has the largest social media following among the Democrats challenging King. He got an early boost when former candidate Weaver endorsed him and informed her large number of e-mail subscribers and Twitter or Facebook followers. The actor Rosie O’Donnell, who gave to Weaver last year, maxed out to Scholten’s campaign in March with a $2,700 donation and an additional $1,000, which can’t be used before the June primary.

Scholten’s campaign also received $2,631.15 during the first quarter from political committees. U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell chipped in $1,000. The California Democrat has visited Iowa a number of times and is seen as a possible presidential contender. The People’s House Project, a group created last year to support “a different sort of candidate” in Republican-held seats in the Midwest and Appalachian states, contributed $1,000 in cash and $631.15 though in-kind e-mail support. Finally, Scholten loaned his campaign $6,734.58.

Aside from King, Scholten spent more during the first three months of the year than any other IA-04 candidate: $76,737.12 on a mix of typical operating expenditures like staff salaries and fees for consulting services and $4,723.27 to repay a loan from the candidate candidate last year. As of March 31, Scholten’s campaign had $271,098.11 cash on hand and $6,734.58 in debts. He will have plenty of money for district-wide outreach before the June 5 primary. Earlier this month, former IA-03 Congressional candidate Austin Frerick became Scholten’s campaign manager. Frerick had emphasized economic concentration, particularly in Iowa’s agricultural sector. Expect to hear more from Scholten on those issues, which makes sense as many of the IA-04 counties are largely rural.

Leann Jacobsen reported net contributions of $83,914.14 on her latest FEC filing, significantly more than the $47,430.12 she had raised during the last quarter of 2017. Almost all came from individuals, including $1,000 from the actor Ben Affleck. Swalwell’s committee gave $1,000 to Jacobsen as well. I noticed that Mildred Weissman of New York has maxed out to both Scholten and Jacobsen. She must really hate Steve King.

Jacobsen’s campaign spent $53,180.48 during the quarter; the largest payments covered salaries and consulting fees. As of March 31, the campaign had $64,713.31 in the bank and $10,000 in debt, representing a loan from the candidate last year.

John Paschen reported raising $20,647.33 from January through March, $405.33 from the candidate and $20,242 from other individuals. Many of his donors are health care professionals or live in the Ames area, where Paschen has practiced as a pediatrician for decades. Paschen also loaned his campaign an additional $30,000.00. His FEC filing disclosed $43,868.24 in spending during the quarter, mostly on staff salaries or consultant fees, leaving $54,666.08 cash on hand as of March 31. The campaign owes a total of $40,000 to the candidate.

Any comments about the IA-04 campaign are welcome in this thread. While it’s encouraging to see so much support for the Democrats running here, King can take heart in the knowledge that he was re-elected despite more than $3 million in spending by 2012 challenger Christie Vilsack and more than $2 million in spending by 2014 challenger Jim Mowrer.

Top image: Counter-clockwise from top left, Steve King, J.D. Scholten, Leann Jacobsen, John Paschen.

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  • 4th District

    Assuming Iowa still has four districts after the next census, it will be very interesting to see the new shape of District 4. I remember that some Iowans happily thought the addition of Story County after the last census would bounce King out, but no such luck. Beware, Polk County — the shape might shift next time in a way that puts Story County out and Polk County in.