# State Treasurer

Smith outraising Fitzgerald in treasurer's race. Will it matter?

State Senator Roby Smith is on track to outspend State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, if the latest reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board are any guide.

A news release from the Republican’s campaign boasted that its donations, totaling $213,391.15 so far this election cycle, “have set an all-time record” for a candidate for Iowa state treasurer. Smith raised substantially more than Fitzgerald during the latest reporting period and had nearly three times as much cash on hand.

But it would be premature to conclude, as Smith’s news release asserted, “Our historic fundraising number and Fitzgerald’s lack of support shows Iowans are clearly ready for change.”

Each candidate takes advantages into what could be Iowa’s most competitive state treasurer’s race in four decades.

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Statewide candidates deserved better from Iowa Democratic Party

Democratic candidates for U.S. House, U.S Senate, and governor were given speaking time at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Liberty and Justice Celebration on April 30.

But the party’s three statewide elected officials and candidates for other statewide offices were relegated to pre-recorded videos. Even worse, those videos seemed designed for comic relief, rather than as a way for candidates to connect with hundreds of activists who attended the Des Moines fundraiser.

The missed opportunity was especially regrettable for Joel Miller and Eric Van Lancker, who are competing against each other in the June 7 primary for secretary of state.

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Lopsided governor's race imperils whole Democratic ticket

The filing deadline for campaign finance disclosures is always an exciting day for political reporters. My plan for this week was to write a series of posts about fundraising and spending for each of Iowa’s statewide races: governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, state auditor, and secretary of agriculture.

I shifted gears after reviewing the latest reports for Governor Kim Reynolds and Deidre DeJear, the only Democrat actively campaigning for governor.

Unless things change dramatically in the coming months, Reynolds will be able to use most of her war chest to help down-ballot Republicans.

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Lessons of 2018: Ending straight-ticket voting didn't change much

Fifth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

Republicans ended straight-ticket voting in Iowa last year as part of a law imposing several new barriers for voters. For months, I’ve been trying to work out how eliminating that option would affect this year’s outcome.

More than 400,000 Iowans filled in the Democratic or Republican oval on their 2014 general election ballot, which worked out to roughly 37 percent of those who participated. I expected a much larger “undervote” for lower-profile statewide offices or legislative races this year, as many who would have voted straight ticket marked their ballots for governor and Congress alone.

That didn’t happen.

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Iowa and national 2018 election results thread

Polls just closed in Iowa, and I will update this thread frequently throughout the night as results come in. Separate posts on some of the statewide and Congressional races will be forthcoming once the outcome is clear. The Secretary of State’s website is compiling vote totals here. Anecdotal evidence suggests turnout far exceeded 2014 levels on election day.

Early voting already set a record for an Iowa midterm election. This post includes tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts from October 9 through November 6. The numbers aren’t quite final; absentee ballots can be hand-delivered to county auditors today, and ballots arriving by mail later this week can be counted with a postmark dated November 5 or earlier.

What we know: at least 538,043 Iowans voted before election day this year. The total early vote in 2014 was 465,166. Iowa Democrats cast 186,269 early ballots in 2014. As of this morning, 230,294 Democrats had already voted. Republicans cast 178,653 early ballots in 2014 and were at 189,961 this morning. Turnout among no-party Iowa voters typically drops sharply in non-presidential years. Four years ago, 99,491 independents cast ballots; the comparable number today is 114,878.

Earlier today, I reviewed the nine Iowa Senate races most likely to be competitive and 20 Iowa House races that will likely decide control of the lower chamber.

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Third-party candidates on ballot for all Iowa federal, statewide races (updated)

For the first time, at least one third-party candidate has qualified for every Congressional or statewide office in Iowa. Although third parties haven’t traditionally fared well in Iowa, Libertarians had their best showing ever here in 2016 and have nominated a record number of candidates for this November. Since several U.S. House or statewide races could be very close, even a small percentage of the vote for candidates other than the Democratic or Republican contenders could become significant.

With the filing period for Iowa’s general election ballot closed as of 5:00 pm on August 25, it’s time for an overview of the landscape. The full candidate list is posted on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. UPDATE: John Deeth notes that candidates may have filed on the last day, which wouldn’t be reflected on the version currently posted online. I will update as needed; the key point is that there will be no statewide or Congressional races in Iowa this year with only Republican and Democratic options on the ballot. SECOND UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s office uploaded an amended candidate list on August 27. No new candidates filed for statewide office, but one additional person qualified for the ballot in the fourth Congressional district. Scroll down for further details.

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GOP nominates Mike Naig for ag secretary, Jeremy Davis for treasurer

Despite support from his predecessor Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig needed four ballots to secure his party’s nomination at the June 16 Republican Party of Iowa state convention. Governor Kim Reynolds appointed Northey’s longtime deputy to serve out his term in March. Naig finished far ahead of the other four Republicans running for secretary of agriculture on June 5 but fell 0.3 percent short of the 35 percent threshold needed to win the primary outright.

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2014 election results discussion thread

Polls across Iowa close in just a few minutes, and I’ll be updating this post with results throughout the evening. Any comments about any of today’s races, in Iowa or elsewhere, are welcome in this thread.

Many races on the east coast and in the Midwest have already been called. As expected, Republicans picked up the U.S. Senate seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, and South Dakota. Louisiana will go to a runoff in December. Jeanne Shaheen held the New Hampshire Senate seat for Democrats, but Kay Hagan may be in trouble in North Carolina, and in a potentially stunning upset, Mark Warner is behind in Virginia. He needs a strong turnout in the DC suburbs.

As state-level results come in, these are the key Iowa Senate races to watch, and these are the key Iowa House races to watch. For the last four years, Democrats have held a 26-24 Iowa Senate majority. For the last two years, Republicans have held a 53-47 Iowa House majority.

UPDATE: Polls are closed and further updates will be after the jump. News organizations called the governor’s race for Terry Branstad immediately.  

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Election day links and discussion thread

Happy election day to the Bleeding Heartland community. The weather forecast looks good for most parts of Iowa. Polls are open everywhere from 7 am to 9 pm. It’s too late to mail absentee ballots, but you can still hand-deliver completed absentee ballots to your county auditor’s office, or “surrender” you ballot at your regular polling place, then vote with an ordinary ballot.

Three new polls of the U.S. Senate race came out on Monday. Quinnipiac found Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst tied at 47 percent. (That pollster’s previous Iowa survey had Ernst leading by 49 percent to 45 percent.) Fox News found Ernst ahead by 45 percent to 44 percent. Public Policy Polling found Ernst ahead by 48 percent to 45 percent.

All three polls confirmed my belief that the Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll by Selzer & Co was an outlier. No other survey has found Ernst above 50 percent or ahead by such a large margin. If she does win the IA-Sen race by 7 points, I will declare Ann Selzer a polling genius.

Incidentally, the new polls also found Governor Terry Branstad ahead of Democratic challenger Jack Hatch by a smaller margin than in the Register’s final Iowa poll. Quinnipiac found Branstad ahead by 52 percent to 41 percent. That was similar to Public Policy Polling’s finding of Branstad at 54 percent and Hatch at 43 percent. Fox News found a bigger lead for the governor: 53 percent to 36 percent.

PPP has been the only firm to consistently poll down-ballot statewide races in Iowa this year. Its final poll found Democrat Brad Anderson ahead in the secretary of state race, with 44 percent support to 38 percent to Paul Pate and 3 percent each for Jake Porter and Spencer Highland. (Porter, a Libertarian, received about 3 percent of the statewide vote in the 2010 secretary of state race.)

PPP found State Auditor Mary Mosiman leading her Democratic challenger by 46 percent to 41 percent. State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald is ahead of his Republican challenger Sam Clovis by 48 percent to 38 percent, with Libertarian Keith Laube pulling 5 percent. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has a comfortable 51 percent to 33 percent lead over Democrat Sherrie Taha, with a minor-party candidate pulling 5 percent. Finally, Attorney General Tom Miller leads Republican Adam Gregg by 55 percent to 36 percent.

While canvassing in Windsor Heights and Clive on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I didn’t see any Republicans knocking on doors, nor did I see Republican campaign literature on doorknobs or front porches. Another Democratic canvasser in a different part of the state had a similar experience. I would like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers about what you’ve seen of the Republican “ground game” during the final days. As far as I can tell, the GOP has relied mainly on robocalls and perhaps live-caller phone-banking. Republicans paid for many robocalls in the final days.

Speaking of robocalls, many Democratic households in the third Congressional district (including mine) received a call Monday evening recorded by Senator Chuck Grassley, making the case for David Young.

Any comments related to today’s election are welcome in this thread.

P.S. – A testy exchange with a reporter about how President Barack Obama has handled the ebola outbreak underscored why Joni Ernst’s handlers didn’t want her sitting down with most Iowa newspaper editorial boards.

Iowa caucus hopefuls eager to serve as campaign surrogates

With the 2016 caucuses only a bit more than a year away, many potential presidential candidates have been paying their dues in Iowa this fall. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is headlining events for Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids and Davenport on Wednesday, while her husband, President Bill Clinton, will campaign with Braley in Des Moines and Waterloo this Saturday. Vice President Joe Biden was in Davenport today with Braley and Representative Dave Loebsack.

Others who might run for president (if Hillary Clinton opts out) have been here lately too. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got large crowds of Democrats going in Iowa City and Des Moines last weekend. This past Saturday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently visited Iowa for the fourth time since June, headlining events for Braley, Loebsack, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and Steve Siegel, the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 41.

On the Republican side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did an event for Representative Steve King before headlining Governor Terry Branstad’s “birthday” bash in Des Moines on Saturday. (King helped Christie out of a jam once.) The New Jersey governor will be back later this week to campaign with Branstad, Senate nominee Joni Ernst, and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Burlington. Last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky came to Cedar Falls for an event with IA-01 GOP nominee Rod Blum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry made stops in Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids area for attorney general nominee Adam Gregg, Blum, and Ernst. Former Senator Rick Santorum did an event for King last week too, and Donald Trump did earlier in October. Senator Marco Rubio is coming back to eastern Iowa tomorrow to raise money for the Scott County Republicans and for Blum.

I’ve heard that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have recorded radio ads for Sam Clovis, the social conservative favorite who is running for state treasurer. However, I haven’t heard those spots on the radio yet. Speaking of social conservative heroes, Dr. Ben Carson (possibly the new “flavor of the month” for Iowa Republicans) is slated to keynote the FAMiLY Leader’s fall fundraiser on November 22.

Any comments about the next presidential race in Iowa are welcome in this thread. P.S. Imagine if any Democratic candidate or elected official followed Branstad’s lead and moved his “birthday party” up from November 17 to October 25 for political reasons. There would be a chorus of outrage from pundits: Phony! Not acting like a real Iowan!  

Catching up on the state treasurer race, with two Sam Clovis tv ads

Mike Fitzgerald is both the longest-serving state treasurer in the country and a Democratic survivor of two Republican wave elections (1994 and 2010). Probably for those reasons, he doesn’t appear concerned at all about winning a ninth term in office. As of this summer, Fitzgerald had not raised or spent much money for his re-election campaign. He’s given few stump speeches around the state, other than his appearance at the Des Moines Register’s Iowa State Fair soapbox. I have not seen so much as a campaign website or Facebook page, let alone any commercials for is candidacy. That’s no surprise, since Fitzgerald doesn’t have a large war chest and didn’t start advertising for his last re-election bid until late October 2010.

No Republican stepped up to run against Fitzgerald this spring, but in June, Governor Terry Branstad recruited unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis to run for treasurer in an obvious attempt to boost enthusiasm among social conservatives. GOP primary turnout was surprisingly low despite several hard-fought races around the state. (Incidentally, fellow Senate candidate Matt Whitaker agreed to chair Clovis’ treasurer campaign. Whitaker was the GOP nominee for state treasurer in 2002.)

Branstad promised to help Clovis with fundraising, which had been a major problem for him throughout the Senate primary campaign. The July financial report didn’t show big money coming in to Clovis’ state treasurer campaign yet, but a press release from the Clovis campaign this week leads by crediting Branstad with helping secure the resources for two television commercials. The first spot has supposedly been running on eastern Iowa tv stations for about a month, as well as in Des Moines (though I haven’t seen it yet). The second spot is reportedly going on the air this week. I’ve posted both videos after the jump, with my transcripts.

Clovis has virtually no chance to win this election. Public Policy Polling’s Iowa survey in August showed him trailing Fitzgerald by 47 percent to 33 percent, with 5 percent supporting Libertarian nominee Keith Laube. The latest PPP survey in Iowa from this past weekend shows little change: Fitzgerald still has 47 percent support to 35 percent for Clovis and 5 percent for Laube, with the rest of respondents undecided.

While Clovis’ own race may be hopeless, an advertising push for him could help other Republicans on the ballot by mobilizing social conservative voters. Clovis was a highly visible figure during the 2010 campaign against retaining Iowa Supreme Court justices, and his second-place showing in the U.S. Senate primary was impressive, given his campaign’s meager resources. The ads for his state treasurer campaign are low-budget but feature the candidate and his party affiliation prominently, which is the point.

P.S. – In 2010 as well as this year, Iowa Republicans have accused Fitzgerald of campaigning on the state’s dime because his image appears on State Treasurer’s Office materials promoting programs such as the “Great Iowa Treasure Hunt” or 529 college savings plan. Give me a break. One natural advantage of incumbency is that publicity surrounding official actions raises your visibility and name recognition. If that’s using state funds to campaign, so are most public appearances by Iowa’s governors and lieutenant governors and any number of official documents bearing their images.

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Third-party and independent candidates in Iowa's 2014 elections

The filing period for general election candidates in Iowa closed last Friday, so it’s a good time to review where candidates not representing either the Democratic or Republican Party are running for office. The full candidate list is on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website (pdf(. After the jump I discuss all the federal, statewide, and state legislative races including at least one independent or minor-party candidate. Where possible, I’ve linked to campaign websites, so you can learn more about the candidates and their priorities.

Rarely has any Iowa election been affected by an independent or third-party candidate on the ballot. Arguably, the most recent case may have been the 2010 election in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Final results showed that Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley defeated Republican challenger Ben Lange by 4,209 votes, while conservative candidates Rob Petsche and Jason Faulkner drew 4,087 votes and 2,092 votes, respectively.

Any comments about Iowa’s 2014 elections are welcome in this thread.

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Iowa State Fair tips and speaking schedule for state and federal candidates

The Iowa State Fair opened a few minutes ago and runs through August 17. I’m a big fan of the event, and after the jump, I’ve posted some of my favorite tips for enjoying the fair, along with the schedule for candidate appearances at the Des Moines Register’s “soapbox” on the Grand Concourse. The Register will live-stream speeches by candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, as well as a few nationally known politicians from out of state.

The fair has almost endless free entertainment, but bring cash with you anyway, because the State Fair board had to backtrack on plans to eliminate cash purchases for food. Instead, vendors have been encouraged to accept credit and debit cards. I suspect most will stick with a cash-only system.  

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Sam Clovis will run for Iowa state treasurer

Sam Clovis, who finished a distant second in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, will likely be nominated for state treasurer at the Iowa GOP’s statewide convention on June 14, The Iowa Republican blog reported last night. No Republicans stepped up to run for the office long held by Democrat Mike Fitzgerald in time for the March filing deadline. John Thompson, a native of Jefferson and army veteran, recently declared his candidacy for state treasurer and was hoping to be nominated at the state convention. Earlier this week, Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson published a hit piece backgrounder on Thompson that read like a desperate plea for some other candidate to seek the treasurer’s office.

Today’s exclusive report by Kevin Hall says “Clovis has received a lot of encouragement to run over the past couple of days,” including a “Thursday evening phone call” from Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. They offered to help Clovis raise money for a statewide campaign, and he would need their help, as fundraising was his weakest area by far as a Senate candidate. Apparently the governor does not want to run on a ticket with Thompson, given the “interesting background” Robinson highlighted.

Fitzgerald is the longest-serving state treasurer in the country, having been first elected in 1982, the same year Branstad was elected governor for the first time. He has been re-elected seven times, twice amid huge Republican landslides (1994 and 2010). He defeated Dave Jamison by more than 60,000 votes in 2010.

One of Branstad’s staffers, Adam Gregg, will be nominated for attorney general at tomorrow’s GOP convention. That’s the only other statewide office for which no Republican filed in time to appear on primary ballots.

Final Iowa trivia note: Fitzgerald’s 2002 opponent was Matt Whitaker, the fourth-place candidate in this year’s GOP Senate primary.

IA-Gov: Terry Branstad has primary challenger, Jack Hatch does not

Governor Terry Branstad’s Republican challenger, Tom Hoefling, has qualified for the primary ballot after submitting his nominating petitions on March 14, the final day. I don’t see any way Hoefling could win a primary, but it will be interesting to see how large the conservative protest vote is against Branstad. GOP turnout should be larger than usual on June 3, because of competitive primaries for the U.S. Senate seat and the first, second, and third Congressional districts.

Last night the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicated that Jonathan Narcisse filed papers to run for governor as a Democrat. However, his petitions must not have had enough valid signatures, because his name does not appear on the full candidate list (pdf). The other long-shot Democratic hopeful, Paul Dahl, apparently never filed petitions. That leaves State Senator Jack Hatch as the lone Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

In other statewide candidate news, no Republicans stepped up to run against Attorney General Tom Miller or State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. By this time in 2010, Brenna Findley was already campaigning around the state against Miller, and two Republicans were running for treasurer.

As expected, Sherrie Taha is the Democratic candidate for secretary of agriculture; she will face GOP incumbent Bill Northey. Jon Neiderbach is the Democratic candidate for state auditor; he will face GOP incumbent Mary Mosiman, whom Branstad appointed last year. The secretary of state’s race pits Democrat Brad Anderson against Republican Paul Pate. 2010 Libertarian nominee Jake Porter also plans to register for the ballot this summer.

Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I’ve posted some highlights after the jump. The “news” of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn’t the most interesting part of his speech.

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IA-Gov: State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald not running

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald confirmed today that he has decided against running for governor next year.

“Democrats have three good candidates out there and I look to running on the ticket with any one of them,”  Fitzgerald told Radio Iowa.

He says there wasn’t any one particular thing that made him decide not to run for governor. “I think it was a combination of things and it boiled down to I can serve the State of Iowa better as state treasurer,” he says.

Fitzgerald is the country’s longest-serving state treasurer and will be heavily favored for re-election in 2014. He defeated Republican challenger Dave Jamison by approximately 53 percent to 47 percent despite the massive GOP landslide of 2010.

State Representative Tyler Olson and former State Representative Bob Krause are already running for governor, and State Senator Jack Hatch plans to kick off his gubernatorial campaign with events in several cities on September 17.

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Des Moines Register punts on down-ballot statewide offices

The “newspaper Iowa depends upon” won’t endorse a candidate in this year’s races for attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture or state auditor, Des Moines Register editorial page editor Linda Fandel confirmed to me this week. Fandel told me the newspaper has been inconsistent about endorsing candidates for those offices in the past. She said limited staff time and resources lay behind the decision not to endorse this year. The Register did endorse candidates in the races for governor, U.S. Senate and all five U.S. House seats, as well as the Iowa Supreme Court retention vote, which the editors called the most important election in the state this year.

I understand limits on resources. Compared to previous election cycles, the Register’s newsroom staff is smaller, and its editorial pages contain less content. However, a newspaper that claims to have a statewide profile shouldn’t punt on elections offering such significant contrasts to voters. More thoughts on these campaigns are after the jump.

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First sign of life from State Treasurer Fitzgerald's campaign (updated)

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald has been mostly invisible during this year’s campaign. As the longest-serving state treasurer in the country and a survivor of the 1994 Republican wave, Fitzgerald may have less reason to be worried than other Democratic incumbents. Still, I’ve been wondering when he was going to get around to asking voters to re-elect him.

Today I caught the first television commercial for Fitzgerald’s campaign. As far as I know, it went up on the air this week. I haven’t found a video to embed here, but my transcript and description of the visuals are after the jump, along with the transcript of the radio ad Fitzgerald’s opponent is running. UPDATE: I’ve added the script for Fitzgerald’s radio commercial.

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Iowa GOP all in for AG candidate Findley

The latest round of financial reports for Iowa statewide candidates are available on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board website, and once again Republican attorney general candidate Brenna Findley has turned in strong numbers. Thanks to transfers totaling $547,500 from the Republican Party of Iowa, Findley raised $756,617 between July 15 and October 14. During the same period, Democratic incumbent Tom Miller raised $243,326. The huge support from the Iowa GOP allowed Findley to spend more than twice as much as Miller during the reporting period ($661,252 to $298,604). Most of each candidate’s spending went toward advertising: $564,000 for Findley and $225,000 for Miller. Findley has been up on statewide radio for a month and started running television commercials before Miller did. To my knowledge, Miller has not done any radio advertising. Lynn Campbell listed the largest donors to the Findley and Miller campaigns at IowaPolitics.com.

The state party’s massive support for Findley is striking. Republicans have not run a strong challenger against Miller for ages. The party didn’t even nominate a candidate for attorney general four years ago. Also, the Iowa GOP did essentially nothing for state treasurer candidate Dave Jamison or secretary of state candidate Matt Schultz. Jamison received contributions from several of Findley’s high-dollar individual donors and some of the same political action committees backing her (including those created by potential presidential candidates), but the only direct support from the Republican Party came from some GOP county central committees. Schultz received donations from some of those presidential candidate PACs but even less than Jamison from the county central committees and “usual suspect” individual donors.

One could argue that Findley earned the party’s backing through her strong fundraising. She reported far more donations in May and July than the other Republican challengers for statewide offices. Without any financial support from the Iowa GOP, Findley would still have been competitive with her opponent’s contributions and cash on hand totals. She has been an energetic campaigner all year, and serving as Representative Steve King’s top staffer for seven years probably opened a lot of doors for her in terms of fundraising.

Jamison raised $60,479.25 between July 15 and October 14. That was more than the $32,070.52 State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald raised during the same period, but Fitzgerald had $94,073.48 cash on hand as of October 14 compared to $14,608 for Jamison. Schultz raised $25,903.60 since the July disclosure reports, while Secretary of State Michael Mauro raised $52,862.51. Mauro had $64,267 on hand as of October 14, while Schultz had $7,000.94 on hand and $18,174.77 in unpaid bills to himself. If I were Jamison or Schultz, I’d be upset to be ignored by the state party that gave Findley more than half a million dollars. A hundred thousand or two for Jamison and Schultz would have been enough for a bare-bones paid advertising campaign.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad has been praising Findley at just about every campaign stop for months. He makes a brief appearance in one of her tv ads too. Before the June primary, I thought perhaps Branstad was singling out Findley because there were competitive GOP primaries for the other offices. However, even after winning their primaries Jamison and Schultz haven’t received as much attention or help from Branstad as Findley has.

Bleeding Heartland readers, share your own thoughts about the Iowa Republican establishment’s strong support for Findley in this thread.

Final note on the attorney general’s race: Findley and Miller debated yesterday in Iowa City. You can read about the highlights at the Des Moines Register blog, WCCC.com, Radio Iowa and IowaPolitics.com. Unfortunately, the debate won’t be broadcast on Iowa Public Television, but Mediacom cable subscribers can watch it on channel 22 at 2 pm on October 26 and 11 am on October 31. In the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City market, Mediacom subscribers can watch the debate at 7 am on October 24, 8 pm on October 25 or 7 am on October 31.

Schultz snubbed as own county auditor backs Mauro

Matt Schultz, the not-very-informed Republican who wants to be Iowa’s chief elections officer, has been on a tear lately. Last week he launched the Stop Mauro website, which publishes new allegations almost daily about Secretary of State Mike Mauro’s supposedly nefarious doings. A common thread in Schultz’s rhetoric, dating from the Republican primary campaign, is that Mauro engages in Chicago-style politics, which have no place in Iowa.

On October 1 Schultz slammed Mauro for filming public-service announcements regarding new voting technology for the visually impaired. Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson covered Schultz’s joint press conference with Republican state treasurer candidate Dave Jamison. Mauro’s office responded as well. There is an obvious public interest in educating Iowans about new voting equipment during election season. Mauro appears in the commercial, but so do a Republican county auditor and the president of the Iowa Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. More details on the production, funding and script of the ad are here.

Schultz’s attention-getting press conference seems to have backfired. On Monday two more Republican county auditors joined the crowd supporting Mauro for re-election. One of the new endorsers was Marilyn Jo Drake of Pottawattamie County. Schultz is well-known there, having served on the Council Bluffs City Council since 2005. But Drake said in a statement, “I’m proud to support Michael Mauro as he seeks a second term as Secretary of State. Michael Mauro has been a strong and effective partner with county auditors across Iowa. I encourage all Iowans to vote for him this fall.”

Elected county officials rarely back statewide candidates from the other party. Schultz doesn’t have the experience to do this job, and his unfounded claims don’t inspire confidence from the county auditors who work with the Secretary of State’s office.

Jamison’s complaints about State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald are no more convincing. Jamison claims “taxpayers” are funding television, radio and newspaper ads featuring Fitzgerald. The ads publicize the College Savings Iowa 529 plan and the “Great Iowa Treasure Hunt,” which encourages Iowans to retrieve unclaimed property from the state. Deputy State Treasurer Karen Austin told me that unclaimed property finances the publicity for the treasure hunt, which state law requires twice a year. Those ads typically appear in May and September. The state’s general fund budget doesn’t pay for the college savings fund commercials either; those are funded by the 529 plan’s assets. Austin told Kay Henderson that many states including Iowa normally promote college savings in September. Jamison accused Fitzgerald of using public funds to promote himself, but

Austin says, “The way that we look at it, is having a state office that does this adds credibility to the program, and that is one thing that gives people comfort in understanding and knowing who is promoting this program, and why should I invest in this program and is that state tax benefit legitimate. So we have always felt that it is very important to make sure that people understand what this program is.”

Similarly, Schultz claimed the commercials on voting technology could have been produced without featuring Mauro. Guess what? Incumbents have some natural advantages in politics–like when Republican office-holders use taxpayer money to fund visits to all 99 Iowa counties every year.

Share any thoughts about the secretary of state or state treasurer races in this thread.

P.S. One point on the Stop Mauro site deserves additional comment. Schultz says Mauro “snubs the law,” citing a 2008 Polk County district court ruling. The court determined that Mauro violated Iowa’s official English law by providing and accepting voter registration forms printed in other languages. Legal scholars Evan Seite and Michael Zuckerman have analyzed this case in detail, and the issues at hand are more complicated than Schultz implies. In fact, the judge who wrote the King v Mauro opinion “suggested that the federal Voting Rights Act […] might require Iowa’s use of non-English voter registration forms” under an exception allowing for “language usage required by or necessary to secure the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” If plaintiffs ever challenge the Iowa English Language Reaffirmation Act in federal court, Mauro’s actions may be vindicated. Zuckerman argues that English-only laws are constitutionally vulnerable as applied to voting.  

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Republican Iowa poll roundup

It’s been months since we’ve had new public nonpartisan polling of Iowa general election matchups, but three Republican polls have come out in the last ten days. None of them hold good news for Iowa Democrats.

After the jump I summarize results from statewide polls done by Rasmussen Reports and Voter/Consumer Research for The Iowa Republican blog, as well as a Victory Enterprises poll of Iowa’s third Congressional district race.

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Iowa statewide candidate fundraising roundup

The latest round of statewide and state legislative candidate financial reports are available on the website of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. For most candidates, these reports cover money raised and spent between June 2 and July 14. Some of the candidates didn’t file a June 4 disclosure report, and in those cases the latest filing covers the period from May 15 to July 14.

Fundraising numbers for Democratic and Republican candidates for statewide offices are after the jump. In addition to money raised and spent and cash on hand figures, I’ve listed the largest donors for each candidate. I am working on a post about the noteworthy fundraising figures from Iowa House and Senate candidates. John Deeth hit some highlights at the Des Moines Register blog. It’s important to remember that leadership committees for both parties will also spend a lot of money in the battleground legislative districts.

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Weekend open thread: Election prediction contest edition

It’s time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. No prizes will be awarded, but winners will get bragging rights. Can anyone dethrone American007, overall winner of our 2008 election contest?

Enter by answering the following questions. To qualify for the contest, your predictions must be posted as a comment in this thread by 7 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. This isn’t like The Price is Right; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low.

1. How many votes will be cast in the Republican primary for Iowa governor? (Hint: about 199,000 Iowans voted in the hard-fought 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.)

2. What percentages of the vote will Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts receive in the Republican primary for governor?

3. What percentages of the vote will Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen receive in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate?

4. What percentages of the vote will Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje and Chris Reed receive in the Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district? Remember, if you expect this nomination to be decided at a district convention, make sure your guess has the top vote-getter below 35 percent.

5. Who will be the top four candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district, and what percentages of the vote will they receive? Again, keep the top vote-getter below 35 percent if you expect this nomination to go to a district convention. Your possible answers are Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees, Scott Batcher, Jason Welch and Pat Bertroche.

6. What percentages of the vote will Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell receive in the Democratic primary in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district?

7. What percentages of the vote will Matt Schultz, George Eichhorn and Chris Sanger receive in the Republican primary for secretary of state? (I covered that campaign in this post.)

8. What percentages of the vote will Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens receive in the Republican primary for state treasurer? (The Iowa Republican blog has been covering this race from time to time.)

9. What percentages of the vote will State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and challenger Clair Rudison receive in the Democratic primary for Iowa House district 66? (Click here for background.)

10. What percentages of the vote will Tom Shaw, Stephen Richards and Alissa Wagner receive in the Republican primary for Iowa House district 8? (Click here and here for background. Keep in mind that although Wagner withdrew from the race and endorsed Shaw, her name will remain on the ballot.)

Don’t be afraid to make some wild guesses. You can’t win if you don’t play!

This is also an open thread, so share whatever’s on your mind.

Findley pulls in big money for attorney general race

Financial reports for Iowa statewide candidates covering the period from January 1 through May 14 are now available at the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board website. John Deeth summarized the numbers for the statewide races other than the governor’s race, which I discussed earlier today.

The biggest surprise to me was Republican Brenna Findley’s haul in the attorney general’s race. She raised $124,078 since January 1 and has $95,528 on hand. Incumbent Attorney General Tom Miller clearly wasn’t focused on raising money, bringing in just $15,748. Because he started the year with nearly $90,000 in his account, he still has more cash on hand than Findley ($105,200), but Findley has a larger donor base (more than 700 donors).

As a long-time top staffer for Representative Steve King, Findley probably benefits from his donor contacts. It can’t hurt that Terry Branstad is talking up Findley at every campaign stop too. Deeth concludes, “We may have found our downballot sleeper race for the general election.” I don’t think Findley has a chance against Miller, who has been elected attorney general seven times. But she will be able to run a statewide campaign and raise her profile substantially. Miller will have to take this race seriously. His campaigning skills may be rusty, since Republicans gave him a pass in 2006. However, he has a strong record, and it’s worth recalling that he was returned to the attorney general’s office in 1994, an atrocious year for Iowa Democrats.

In all the other statewide races, the incumbents have huge financial advantages over their challengers. Secretary of State Michael Mauro has raised $30,021 since the start of the year, more than his three Republican opponents combined. Mauro has just under $128,000 on hand, whereas Matt Schultz and George Eichhorn both have more outstanding bills than cash on hand, and Chris Sanger has only about $400 on hand. Deeth has more on who’s given to Schultz and Eichhorn. Speaking of this race, I learned recently that the Secretary of State Project has endorsed Mauro.

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald hasn’t raised much money so far in 2010 ($4,179), but he started the year with nearly $114,000 and spent almost nothing, leaving about $117,770 cash on on hand. Two Republicans are running against Fitzgerald, and their campaigns have less than $10,000 cash on hand combined. Story County Treasurer Dave Jamison has broader support than James Heavens of Dyersville, who loaned his campaign most of the money raised.

Republican Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey raised nearly $40,000, and even though he spent quite a lot for this early in the campaign ($53,920), he still has $247,535 on hand. Democrat Francis Thicke raised $58,439, including a $10,000 contribution from the candidate, and has an impressive number of donors (at least 300). He spent a little more than $25,000 and has $33,320 on hand. Corporate interest groups will make sure Northey has tons of money to spend. Thicke will have to run a more grassroots campaign.

Share any thoughts about the statewide races in this thread.

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