# Campaign Finance



Republicans spending big on Des Moines area legislative races

The Republican Party of Iowa has reserved more than $1.1 million in television air time for six candidates seeking Iowa legislative seats in the Des Moines metro area, and will likely spend hundreds of thousands more to promote them on television during the final stretch of the campaign.

Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission show the GOP plans to spend more than $650,000 on broadcast tv supporting Jake Chapman and Mike Bousselot, who are running in the party’s top two central Iowa Senate targets.

The party also will spend six-figure sums on tv ads for four Iowa House candidates in Polk or Dallas counties, whose commercials began airing last week.

Those numbers do not include any funds the GOP will spend on direct mail, radio, or digital advertising for the same candidates.

This post focuses on early tv spending on legislative races in the Des Moines market. Forthcoming Bleeding Heartland posts will survey other battleground Iowa House or Senate districts.

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Polk County Democrats ditch Hy-Vee for Steak Fry

Jason Clayworth had the scoop for Axios Des Moines: the Polk County Democrats have hired Orchestrate Management to cater the 2022 Steak Fry. The grocery chain Hy-Vee “had catered the event since at least 1992,” according to Polk County Democrats chair Sean Bagniewski.

Some Democratic activists have wanted to cut ties with Hy-Vee since Gwen Hope reported for Bleeding Heartland three years ago that the grocery chain’s PAC has favored GOP candidates and committees. In particular, the Hy-Vee PAC gave the Republican Party of Iowa $25,000—the PAC’s biggest donation in a decade—shortly before President Donald Trump headlined an Iowa GOP fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s facility in West Des Moines during the summer of 2019.

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Todd Halbur scores big upset in Iowa GOP state auditor primary

The establishment candidate should have focused more on the Iowa Republican primary for state auditor.

Unofficial returns from the June 7 election show Mary Ann Hanusa received 79,875 votes (48.8 percent) to 83,843 votes (51.2 percent) for Todd Halbur. The result shocked me, since Hanusa had the public backing of the governor, most of Iowa’s Congressional delegation, and many state legislators, whereas Halbur was virtually unknown when he filed nominating papers in March.

But Hanusa did little to reach Republicans who turned out in large numbers this week, due to the many competitive legislative primaries around the state.

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What went right for Mike Franken and wrong for Abby Finkenauer

Retired Admiral Mike Franken decisively won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate on June 7, taking about 55 percent of the vote to 40 percent for former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer and just under 5 percent for Dr. Glenn Hurst.

The nominee will face Senator Chuck Grassley, who defeated GOP challenger Jim Carlin by 73.5 percent to 26.5 percent.

While Franken appeared to have momentum in recent weeks, Iowa politics watchers weren’t expecting this margin of victory in the Senate race. Several factors were working in the winner’s favor and against Finkenauer as the primary approached.

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Ten Iowa Democratic legislative primaries to watch in 2022

UPDATE: I’ve added unofficial results for each race.

Iowa Democrats have more competitive state legislative primaries in 2022 than in a typical election cycle. That’s partly because quite a few House and Senate members are retiring, and partly because the redistricting plan adopted in 2021 created some legislative districts with no incumbents.

In most of the races discussed below, the winner of the primary is very likely to prevail in November. However, a few of the districts could be targeted by one or both parties in the general election.

All data on past election performance in these districts comes from the Iowa House and Senate maps Josh Hughes created in Dave’s Redistricting App. Fundraising numbers are taken from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s database.

This post is not an exhaustive account of all contested Democratic primaries for state legislative offices. You can find the full primary candidate list here.

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