IA-Gov: Highlights from candidates' new fundraising reports

With three weeks to go before Iowa’s June 5 primary, Democrat Fred Hubbell had already spent nearly twice as much on his gubernatorial campaign as Terry Branstad did to win the Republican nomination in 2010.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from campaign finance disclosures by Governor Kim Reynolds and her Democratic challengers. Posts in progress will cover newsworthy details about other Iowa candidates’ fundraising and spending. All the latest reports, which were due May 21, are available here.


No Iowa gubernatorial candidate has raised and spent as much before a primary as Hubbell. If he wins the nomination, as now seems likely, Hubbell is on track to far exceed the nearly $8.7 million Democratic Governor Chet Culver spent on his 2010 re-election campaign. $2.1 million of that haul came from the Democratic Governors Association.

By the end of 2017, Hubbell had raised more than $3 million and spent more than $1.8 million, about as much as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch spent during the entire 2014 election cycle.

The latest Hubbell disclosure shows $3,014,870.76 raised from January 1 through May 14. Although the campaign took in quite a few small contributions, the bulk of the money came from large donors. Hubbell wrote four checks himself, totaling $2.1 million. The largest other donors this reporting period were Stan Moore, a Republican from California who gave $50,000, and Tom McInerney of Virginia, who gave $37,000. (Note: he has donated to other Democratic committees and appears to be different from the Thomas McInerney who has contributed large sums to Republican-aligned groups.) Nearly 40 people–mostly Iowans–wrote $5,000 checks during the period, four contributed $10,000, one $15,000, and two $25,000.

Hubbell’s campaign reported spending a staggering $3,998,178.94 since January 1. Direct mail and television ads during the final three weeks of the primary campaign will push his total spending past the $6 million mark.

Television and radio ad buys or production accounted for $2,566,798 of the expenditures from January through May 14. Hubbell has run fifteen different television commercials since last October. The latest, which launched May 21, returns to the theme of the first: the candidate’s longstanding support for Planned Parenthood. Other large expenditures include $481,590.00 for communications consulting (presumably covering the numerous direct mail pieces), $200,470.66 for polling, and $91,680.37 for phone services consulting.

To get a sense of how unprecedented Hubbell’s primary campaign spending is for Iowa, I checked the disclosures from Branstad’s 2010 race. That year, the former governor coming out of political retirement faced strong competition from social conservative Bob Vander Plaats and token opposition from State Representative Rod Roberts. The Democratic Governors Association also spent $782,500 on a front group producing ads and mail designed to hurt Branstad with Republican voters.

Branstad spent just under $3 million to secure the nomination: $186,023.56 during 2009, $1,789,413.88 from January through mid-May 2010, and another $986,547.51 from May 15 to the Friday before the primary.


The Republican incumbent reported the second-highest fundraising total: $1,259,686.80. Like Hubbell, Reynolds received numerous small contributions, but most of her money came from larger donors. Three people gave $50,000 each during the reporting period, two gave $30,000, seven gave $25,000, three gave $20,000, four gave $15,000, twelve gave $10,000, seven gave $7,500, 40 gave $5,000, 30 gave $2,500, and more than 60 gave $1,000.

I was shocked to see that the Reynolds campaign spent $1,157,251.40 during the first four and a half months of the year. I expected a much lower number, since her only competition for the GOP nomination, Ron Corbett, failed to qualify for the primary ballot. Television advertising was the largest expense: $490,460 since April 10. The Reynolds campaign also spent about $50,000 a month on staff salaries. (Phil Valenziano was paid through the end of March, more than a month after he departed as campaign manager, indicating he did not leave that position voluntarily, as public statements implied.) Various consulting services and $60,000 for polling accounted for most of the remaining spending.

Although her campaign’s burn rate was high, Reynolds had $4,242,615.96 cash on hand as of May 14. She’ll be able to save most of that for the general election, whereas all the Democratic candidates will spend down their bank accounts before June 5.

UPDATE: Scanning the Reynolds contributions, I missed a $250 donation on March 1 from then Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison and his wife Karen Jamison. Jamison e-mailed the governor’s scheduler on March 19, seeking a meeting with Reynolds to “catch up.” Less than a week later, Reynolds fired Jamison after Iowa Finance Authority employees approached her chief of staff to complain about the director’s extensive harassing behavior.

The Associated Press was first to report on the Jamisons’ donation today. Campaign spokesperson Pat Garrett told the AP, “we plan to return it.” Why didn’t they return the contribution soon after Jamison was fired?


Glasson was the third-highest fundraiser during this reporting period, with $593,340.07 in contributions. A campaign press release touted the fact that 92 percent of the 5,847 individual donations were for less than $50. That’s accurate but obscures the reality that one $500,000 contribution from the Service Employees International Union accounted for nearly 85 percent of the money raised. Sable Knapp, a granddaughter of major Iowa donor Bill Knapp, gave another $22,500. (She contributed more than $100,000 to Glasson during 2017.)

About half of the $1,094,736.36 in spending went toward various forms of advertising. Salary and payroll taxes were the other largest expense, and the campaign spent $22,500 on polling.

Glasson probably would have had much more than $228,650.33 cash on hand as of May 14, if not for the extended Iowa legislative session. State law forbids political action committees from donating to state candidates during the session and for 30 days after adjournment. Lawmakers didn’t go home for the year until May 5, so SEIU has been unable to donate to Glasson’s campaign since January 8.


Boulton reported raising $500,021.31 on his latest filing. Labor unions and attorneys were his two main sources of funding. In early January, political committees for AFSCME donated $100,000, the Iowa Association of Firefighters PAC $25,000, the Steelworkers $30,000, United Food & Commercial Workers $10,000, and Laborers $1,000. Like Glasson, Boulton was surely counting on much more from labor union PACs, but those donations won’t be possible because the Iowa legislative session ran into early May.

Dozens of attorneys have contributed $1,000 or more to Boulton’s campaign, with the candidate’s law partner Mark Hedberg and Caroline Hedberg topping the list. The Hedbergs’ donations during this reporting period totaled $24,840. The Justice for All PAC donated $10,000. Former U.S. Representative Bruce Braley kicked in $500. Boulton transferred a little more than $7,000 from his Iowa Senate campaign fund.

Television buys accounted for about $510,000 of Bolton’s $938,814.05 in spending. Other major expenses were staff salaries, and various forms of consulting, such as for digital advertising and e-mail or text messages. The campaign also spent $40,250 on polling. Boulton reported $100,388.35 cash on hand as of May 14, less than four of his Democratic rivals. That’s enough to run some tv ads, but not on the same scale as late January and early February, when he was spending about $66,000 a week.


McGuire reported $273,489.00 in contributions, of which $175,000 came from the candidate. Her sister-in-law and fellow former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sheila McGuire Riggs donated $10,000. Roxanne Conlin and one other donor gave $5,000 each. Two dozen others gave at least $1,000.

McGuire spent $383,122.29 during this reporting period, less than $75,000 of which went toward airing her first and so far only television commercial. Consulting and staff salaries were other major expenses, and the campaign spent $33,000 on polling. As of May 14, McGuire had $148,928.95 cash on hand.


Norris raised $235,057.46, all from individuals (including me). The largest donor was James Bryant of Oklahoma, who gave $40,000. Two contributors gave $5,000 each, two gave $3,000, and no one else gave more than $2,000 during the reporting period.

Norris has run a relatively lean campaign operation, spending just $226,820.05 since January 1. Salaries were the largest expense, followed by various forms of advertising, consulting, and the Iowa Democratic Party voter file. The campaign spent $22,500 on television air time, much less than the four better-funded Democrats in the field. The final Norris tv ad buy may be a bit larger, since the report showed $152,319.34 cash on hand as of May 14.


Wilburn has been running a low-budget campaign all along. He started the year with only $107.74 cash on hand and reported raising $6,441.99. After spending $7,065.44, mostly on consulting fees, online advertising, and yard signs, the campaign was $515.71 in debt as of May 14.

Any comments about the governor’s race are welcome in this thread. Bleeding Heartland discussed the recent Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom here

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