Iowans in Congress report big 2Q fundraising numbers

Candidates for federal offices are raising more money than ever, and that trend was noticeable in the second-quarter Federal Election Commission filings for Iowa’s four U.S. House incumbents. Most of them reported fundraising numbers that would have attracted national attention just a few cycles ago. Many large donors live outside Iowa, a sign that national committees are driving contributions to candidates perceived to be in competitive districts.

The cash on hand totals may seem daunting for challengers who recently launched their campaigns or are still considering it. On the other hand, war chests are less important than they used to be, given the massive growth in outside spending on battleground U.S. House races. A fundraising advantage for an incumbent in 2021 may not be a major factor by next summer.

With that caveat, let’s review where things stand for the three Republicans and one Democrat who represent Iowa in the lower chamber of Congress.

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IA-01: How Liz Mathis might match up against Ashley Hinson

Democratic State Senator Liz Mathis told Iowa news outlets on June 14 that she is “seriously considering” running for Congress next year and will announce her plans in late July.

Mathis won her first race in a 2011 special election for Iowa Senate district 34, covering much of the Cedar Rapids suburbs. She has since been re-elected three times. Republicans did not invest in Senate district 34 in 2012, made an unsuccessful play there in 2016, and opted not to field a candidate against Mathis in 2020.

My Democratic contacts in Linn County expect Mathis to run in the first Congressional district. I am inclined to agree. If she weren’t leaning toward running, she would probably not disclose her plans until after Iowa adopts new maps, which is unlikely to happen before September.

Mathis retired last month from Four Oaks, which provides services to children in the Cedar Rapids area. So she could devote full-time efforts to a Congressional campaign whenever the state legislature is not in session. Since her Iowa Senate term runs through 2024, she doesn’t need to give up her current office to compete for IA-01.

My Republican contacts expect U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson to run for U.S. Senate if Chuck Grassley retires. For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming Grassley will seek an eighth term, and Hinson will seek re-election in IA-01.

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FEC backs ban on fundraising practice used by Trump, Hinson

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted unanimously on May 6 “to recommend that Congress ban political campaigns from guiding donors by default into recurring contributions through prechecked boxes,” Shane Goldmacher reported for the New York Times. It was a rare moment of bipartisan agreement for a commission that usually deadlocks on campaign finance regulations and enforcement.

President Donald Trump’s campaign popularized the technique in 2020, Goldmacher revealed in an investigation published last month. Pre-selecting the recurring contribution option led to record online fundraising, followed by a wave of complaints and huge demand for refunds from unwitting Trump donors.

Bleeding Heartland was first to report that the campaigns of Governor Kim Reynolds and and U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson (IA-01) are using the same practice.

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Hinson, Miller-Meeks campaigns took disgraced GOP donor's money

U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) were among dozens of House Republicans whose campaigns received $5,800 in March from Stephen Wynn, a former Republican National Committee finance chair who resigned in 2018 after former employees alleged sexual harassment or assault.

$5,800 is the maximum amount individuals can donate to federal campaigns for the 2022 election cycle ($2,900 each for the primary and general elections).

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The politics of Ashley Hinson's balancing act in IA-01

Eighth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

During her first six weeks serving in the U.S. House, Representative Ashley Hinson has been speaking in two distinct voices.

In many public statements, she has positioned herself as a unifier within the House Republican caucus and Congress at large, willing to work with anyone for the benefit of her constituents. Meanwhile, she has regularly demonized Democrats as threats to America, especially when speaking to perceived supporters or on conservative platforms.

The dual messaging reflects Hinson’s dependence on Donald Trump’s base in a swing district where future Republican victories are not assured.

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