It looks like Iowans will see a hotly-contested race for State Auditor this year. Democratic candidate Rob Sand informed Starting Line that he has raised an eye-popping $200,854 in his bid for the oft-overlooked state office. Sand announced back in early November, so this fundraising haul for the 2017 report was accomplished in just seven weeks, a record for any state auditor campaign in that short a time.
For comparison’s sake, Sand has already raised more than incumbent Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman brought in during the entirety of her first election in 2014. She raised $178,166 in all then, $50,000 of which was from the state party. Mosiman had $41,621 cash on hand as of the end of 2016, but she’ll soon file her 2017 fundraising report by January 19.
Sand’s campaign also noted that they have over 800 donors so far, topping the 550 donors that Mosiman had total for the 2014 cycle.
The full report will come out closer to the filing deadline, but the campaign said they’ve been able to reach beyond the traditional Democratic donor crowd in Iowa. One successful avenue has been through the LGBTQ community, an effort headed up by Sand’s co-chair Rich Eychaner. There’s still lingering resentment toward Mosiman from when, as Story County Auditor in 2010, she moved polling locations off of college campuses and into evangelical churches in the county during the vote to remove supreme court justices over the gay marriage ruling.
He’s also been running a somewhat non-traditional fundraising approach online with humorous email appeals, which has drawn some attention in the Twitter-sphere.
— Zach Wahls (@ZachWahls) December 31, 2017
The last time a Democrat held the State Auditor’s office was 1967, and Republicans have typically sailed to victory in most elections for the seat. Mosiman was appointed to the office by Governor Terry Branstad in 2013 after Dave Vaudt resigned. She easily secured her first full term over Jonathan Neiderbach in the Republican wave year of 2014, winning 57% to 43%.
That race, however, got very little attention, and Mosiman is probably the least well-known of any of Iowa’s statewide officials. With Sand’s fundraising strength and an overall better climate for Democrats in 2018, this is emerging as a key race to watch for a potential Democratic pick-up.
At age 35, Sand is also part of a group of younger Iowans running for top offices this year, which has gained some attention and excitement. He saw a turnout of about 200 people at his campaign kick-off in Decorah, one of the larger crowds for any candidate this year.
“Money is a handy measuring stick for a campaign, but it can’t replace ideas and character from a candidate,” Sand told Starting Line. “Someday, somehow, we need to make sure that money becomes less important.”
A native of Decorah, Sand has served as an assistant Iowa attorney general, prosecuting fraud and corruption cases. He’s pitched himself as a watchdog of taxpayer funds during his campaign, aiming to contrast his legal background with Mosiman’s oversight of the worsening state budget crisis.
“The current State Auditor is putting her party ahead of the public,” Sand added. “I’m from a small town, where the truth and integrity matter. I’ve prosecuted Democrats and Republicans at the AG’s office, and as State Auditor I won’t care who is governor: if they try and pull what Governor Reynolds did last session, I will be the first to hold them accountable.”
Sand is likely to be the only Democrat in the State Auditor race.
by Pat Rynard