Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker has outpaced Linn County Auditor Joel Miller in fundraising ahead of this year's only competitive Democratic primary for an Iowa statewide office.
The gap has allowed Van Lancker to spend substantially more to raise his name ID ahead of the June 7 election.
Since last September, when both county auditors launched their secretary of state campaigns, Van Lancker has raised a total of $72,269.32: $35,485.16 before the end of 2021 (including a $1,000 loan from the candidate) and $36,784.16 between January 1 and May 14. Most of the donations came from individuals. The candidate covered $2,309 in mileage costs, reported as an in-kind contribution.
Van Lancker also received $750 and $250 contributions from United Rural Democrats of America in March and $500 from the Great River Area Labor Federation PAC in April. He confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on May 21 that those donations are being returned, since Iowa law prohibits state candidates from accepting funds from political committees while the legislature is in session.
Most of the $36,524.24 Van Lancker's campaign spent during the latest reporting period went toward consultant services. He also purchased access to the Iowa Democratic Party's voter database. As of May 14, the campaign had $19,457.44 in the bank.
Miller hasn't hired campaign staff or consultants. He's loaned his campaign a total of $13,800.11, donated $1,000, and reported $1,860.96 that he covered (mostly mileage costs) as in-kind donations. Miller has also raised $2,503.16 from other individuals since last September.
His latest filing with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board reported expenditures of $6,783.23. The biggest line item was $4,500 to a consulting firm that coordinated his petition signature collection. (Some higher-profile Democratic candidates, who barely qualified for the primary ballot, should have invested in that kind of service.) As of May 14, Miller's campaign had $2,173.63 cash on hand, which isn't much to get the word out before the primary.
The Democratic nominee will face incumbent Secretary of State Paul Pate. He hasn't focused much on fundraising; he raised $38,400 during the 2021 calendar year and $17,012.94 during the first four and a half months of 2022. He also reported donations of $577.00 in kind during 2021 and a flight on David Barker's private plane this year, valued at $708.73. All of Pate's donors are individuals; gifts of $250 or more accounted for most of the funds raised.
As of May 14, the incumbent had $31,602.81 cash on hand. That's not much for a statewide race. However, Pate has loaned his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars in past cycles and could presumably self-fund again if the need arises. His campaign has outstanding loans of $223,500, owed to the candidate.
P.S.—An advertisement created by the Iowa Secretary of State's office this month included the wrong date for the start of the early voting window. Pate's staff corrected the error after Van Lancker pointed it out, Ty Rushing reported for Iowa Starting Line on May 5. The Democrat told Starting Line, “Iowa SOS’s office needs to do better when providing our voters information about voting [...] Especially after the state legislature has already made it more difficult to vote in Iowa.”
Top photos of Eric Van Lancker (left) and Joel Miller cropped from photos posted on their Facebook pages.