Democratic activists are highly motivated to take back the Iowa House majority, judging from the latest round of campaign finance reports for legislative candidates.
Iowa has never seen anything like this kind of fundraising for state House races.
BIG PICTURE: DEMOCRATS WON'T BE OUTSPENT, FOR A CHANGE
Democratic challengers were at a financial disadvantage in most of the contested Iowa House races in 2016 and in 2018. That shouldn't be a problem this year in the two dozen or so House seats up for grabs.
GOP leaders did out-raise their Democratic counterparts during the latest reporting period, which runs from July 15 to October 14. House Speaker Pat Grassley raised $844,910.78, and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl raised $390,735.23. Including money raised earlier in the cycle, the top two House leaders had about $2 million to give the Republican Party of Iowa, which will invest in targeted districts. (Most spending in Iowa legislative races happens "in kind" through the state parties.)
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Todd Prichard raised $316,149.56, and House Minority Whip Jo Oldson raised $56,096.50. Including earlier fundraising, the top two House Democrats were able to donate about $470,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party.
Fortunately for Democrats, individual candidates out-raised Republicans in many potentially competitive races and even in some districts viewed as safe holds for the GOP. This post from early October profiled 28 Iowa House races to watch, with my best guesses on which party is favored in each district.
I've enclosed fundraising and spending numbers from those campaigns below, with each candidate's name linked to the person's latest reports with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. Remember: in the hard-fought races, most of the candidate's expenditures go to the state Democratic or Republican parties, which then spend large sums in kind on direct mail and advertising.
In addition, the new Better Democracy PAC that Fred and Charlotte Hubbell founded last year spent more than $1.15 million during the latest reporting period. Most of the expenditures went to the Iowa Democratic Party ($825,000 total). The PAC also made gifts to some individual candidates, including $140,000 to Christian Andrews (House district 95), $115,000 to Andrea Phillips (House district 37), $30,000 to Lonny Pulkrabek (House district 73), $10,000 to Phil Miller (House district 82), and $10,000 to State Representative Mary Mascher (who is unopposed in House district 86). Mascher gave most of what she raised to the Iowa Democratic Party.
TOP DEMOCRATIC TARGETS
House district 37
Andrea Phillips (D): raised $293,432.07, spent $292,933.01, Iowa Democratic Party spent $518,333.80 in kind
John Landon (R): raised $60,230.00, spent $105,953.13, Iowa GOP spent $361,374,98 in kind
House district 55
Kayla Koether (D): raised $274,040.48, spent $247,771.22, Iowa Democratic Party spent $404,651 in kind
Michael Bergan (R): raised $45,845.00, spent $53,526.95, Iowa GOP spent $372,068.68 in kind
House district 67 (open)
Eric Gjerde (D): raised $220,745.46, spent $268,838.32, Iowa Democratic Party spent $241,092 in kind
Sally Abbott (R): raised $6,720.00, spent $6,033.17, Iowa GOP spent $10,657.27 in kind
If Democrats fall just short in a few non-targeted races, they may regret spending so much here.
House district 82
Phil Miller (D): raised $123,299.47, spent $139,307.09, Iowa Democratic Party spent $145,669.63 in kind
Jeff Shipley (R): raised $12,740.00, spent $13,953.30, Iowa GOP spent $96,770.05 in kind
House district 94
Marie Gleason (D): raised $112,556.05, spent $73,365.19, Iowa Democratic Party spent $528,932.81 in kind
Gary Mohr (R): raised $99,495.00, spent $118,164.33, Iowa GOP spent $477,736.62 in kind
SECOND-TIER DEMOCRATIC TARGETS
House district 16 (open)
Jen Pellant (D): raised $259,037.22, spent $252,215.74, Iowa Democratic Party spent $291,745 in kind
Brent Siegrist (R): raised $45,245, spent $37,150.82, Iowa GOP spent $343,402.85 in kind
House district 73
Lonny Pulkrabek (D): raised $139,464.85, spent $171,378.97, Iowa Democratic Party spent $240,806.30 in kind
Bobby Kaufmann (R): raised $144,229.00, spent $201,722.29, Iowa GOP spent $156,719.37 in kind
House district 91 (open)
Kelcey Brackett (D): raised $141,384.31, spent $142,872.63, Iowa Democratic Party spent $128,455.07 in kind
Mark Cisneros (R): raised $24,860, spent $28,830.87, Iowa GOP spent $338,068.39 in kind
House district 92
Jennifer Kakert (D): raised $102,729.11, spent $113,344.78, Iowa Democratic Party spent $142,130.15 in kind
Ross Paustian (R): raised $60,430.00, spent $63,866.59, Iowa GOP spent $157,690.08 in kind
House district 95 (open)
Christian Andrews (D): raised $295,717.01, spent $334,104.24, Iowa Democratic Party spent $314,788 in kind
Charlie McClintock (R): raised $7,925.00, spent $8,392.08, Iowa GOP spent $277,470.35 in kind
THIRD-TIER DEMOCRATIC TARGETS
House district 9
Charles Clayton (D): raised $135,864.95, spent $104,500.48, Iowa Democratic Party spent $68,966.67 in kind
Ann Meyer (R): raised $72,870, spent $88,197.09, Iowa GOP spent $10,525.71 in kind
House district 63
Carissa Froyum (D): raised $14,801.47, spent $36,044.30, Iowa Democratic Party spent $14,423.22 in kind
Sandy Salmon (R): raised $26,720, spent $33,313.76, Iowa GOP spent $3,790.82 in kind
House district 72
Christina Blackcloud (D): raised $69,276.94, spent $23,173.28, no in-kind spending by Iowa Democrats
Dean Fisher (R): raised $31,833, spent $45,793.99, no in-kind spending
House district 76
David Maxwell (R): raised $41,320.00, spent $34,879.51 (Note: Maxwell didn't disclose any in-kind expenditures, but public files for Des Moines based television stations showed spending by Republicans on his behalf) UPDATE: Maxwell eventually filed an in-kind report that showed $7,327.46 from the Iowa GOP for mail, but no spending on television. I'm trying to clarify the situation; it's possible Republicans reserved air time for Maxwell but canceled the planned tv buys.
Sarah Smith (D): raised $36,713.33, spent $47,173.05, Iowa Democratic Party spent $12,413.09 in kind
Kamal Hammouda (independent): at this writing, had not filed a report UPDATE: He filed later in the week and has raised and spent only a few thousand dollars.
TOP REPUBLICAN TARGETS
House district 26
Scott Ourth (D): raised $60,460.46, spent $79,558.51, Iowa Democratic Party spent $394,284.30 in kind
Brooke Boden (R): raised $8,125.95, spent $2,420.53, Iowa GOP spent $255,829.36 in kind
House district 52
Todd Prichard (D): raised $316,149.56, spent $371,766.44, Iowa Democratic Party spent $456,196.21 in kind
Craig Clark (R): raised $2,135.21, spent $3,531.47, Iowa GOP spent $209,491.27 in kind
House district 58
Andy McKean (D): raised $81,536.52, spent $141,745.61, Iowa Democratic Party spent $500,980 in kind
Dave Bradley (R): raised $27,370, spent $31,161.73, Iowa GOP spent $351,809.80 in kind
House district 64 (open)
Jodi Grover (D): raised $86,555.54, spent $78,124.15, Iowa Democratic Party spent $233,053 in kind
Chad Ingels (R): raised $21,500.00, spent $17,855.14. Republicans don't appear to be spending any money in kind on this race. UPDATE: Ingels amended his filing on October 20 to report in-kind expenditures of $191,717.64 by the Iowa GOP.
House district 81
Mary Gaskill (D): raised $34,427.95, spent $37,375.35, Iowa Democratic Party spent $181,804 in kind
Cherielynn Westrich (R): raised $15,611, spent $21,613.38, Iowa GOP spent $102,920.81 in kind
SECOND-TIER REPUBLICAN TARGETS
House district 29
Wes Breckenridge (D): raised $36,555.00, spent $78,421.55, Democrats spent $24,183.90 in kind
Jon Dunwell (R): raised $16,443.70, spent $30,837.54, no in-kind spending
House district 39
Karin Derry (D): raised $82,553.70, spent $143,864.20, Iowa Democratic Party spent $139,010 in kind
Eddie Andrews (R): at this writing, has not filed a disclosure. UPDATE: Two full days after the deadline, Andrews still has not reported his fundraising or spending. LATER UPDATE: Andrews finally filed on October 23. Republicans do not appear to be engaged in any serious effort to win this seat. Andrews raised $22,921.16 and spent $6,100.44. The Iowa GOP spent $14,869.85 on digital advertising and mail.
House district 44
Kenan Judge (D): raised $61,291.90, spent $110,341.81, Iowa Democratic Party spent $157,905.02 in kind
Dave Lorenzen (R): raised $11,555.10, spent $9,261.25, Iowa GOP spent $16,828.38 in kind
House district 71 (open)
Sue Cahill (D): raised $22,643.00, spent $27,811.59, Iowa Democratic Party spent $73,849.04 in kind
Tony Reed (R): raised $6,037.50, spent $10,128.95, no in-kind spending
THIRD-TIER REPUBLICAN TARGETS
House district 14 (open)
Steve Hansen (D): raised $23,950.00, spent $36,972.26, Iowa Democratic Party spent $89,395.08 in kind
Robert Henderson (R): raised $12,083.51, spent $14,160.33, Iowa GOP spent $2,519.52 in kind
House district 15
Charlie McConkey (D): raised $52,792.14, spent $58,003.04, Iowa Democratic Party spent $20,681.12 in kind
Sarah Abdouch (R): raised $2,735.75, spent $1,685.08, no in-kind spending
House district 38
Heather Matson (D): raised $56,939.19, spent $109,777.62, Iowa Democratic Party spent $49,723.10 in kind
Garrett Gobble (R): raised $9,403.43, spent $9,363.07, Iowa GOP spent $13,939,89 in kind
House district 42
Kristin Sunde (D): raised $27,766, spent $58,707.24, Iowa Democratic Party spent $22,608.78 in kind
Aaron Sewell (R): raised $5,425.00, spent $5,850.80, Iowa GOP spent $2,485.38 in kind
House district 60
Dave Williams (D): raised $61,713.23, spent $85,172.82, Iowa Democratic Party spent $29,598.18 in kind
Ryan Howard (R): raised $7,538.00, spent $4,572.65, no in-kind spending by Iowa GOP
OTHER HOUSE RACES WORTH NOTING
After I reviewed the Iowa House landscape early this month, some readers asked about two districts I didn't include.
The first was House district 19, a Dallas County seat that's open due to former House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow's retirement. The registration numbers and recent voting history make Republicans clear favorites to hold this seat. But the GOP was conducting internal polling here as recently as a couple of weeks ago. It's an unusual campaign in that both Republican candidate Carter Nordman and Democratic nominee Nick Miller are college students.
The latest financial disclosures don't indicate anything unusual happening here. Nordman raised $19,624, spent $17,834.88, and benefited from $5,237.08 in spending in kind by the Iowa GOP. Miller raised $15,300.20, spent $10,719.01, and had $3,900.49 in support from the Iowa Democratic Party.
According to a rumor going around Scott County, Republicans might be planning to target longtime State Representative Phyllis Thede in House district 93, covering parts of Davenport and Bettendorf. There's no sign of that in the financial reports. Thede reported raising $21,306.32, spending $14,996.77, and $12,462.03 in support from the Iowa Democratic Party for direct mail. Her GOP challenger Mike Vondran raised $17,007 and spent $25,232.02. The Iowa GOP chipped in with $2,915.77 in kind for mail.
Finally, I'm going to keep my eye on two Republican-held districts that resemble House district 72, discussed here and above. Recent voting history would suggest Democrats have no chance. Nevertheless, this year's candidates have raised much more money than the typical nominee in a strong GOP district.
Sara Huddleston is the only Latina running for the Iowa legislature in 2020. During the latest reporting period, she raised $71,662.60 with no support from PACs. After spending $28,850.41, she had $56,068.30 on hand as of October 14. Her opponent in House district 11 is long-serving State Representative Gary Worthan, raised only $20,350.00 during the same period, more than half of which came from PACs. Most of his spending went to the state Republican party.
In House district 7, an open seat, Democratic candidate Debra Jensen raised $53,534.77 and spent $33,729.82. The GOP nominee Henry Stone raised $7,080.00, spent $8,171.22, and benefited from $3,409.08 in spending by the Iowa GOP.
Top image: Iowa House chamber, photographed in 2016 by Brett Welcher.