The Service Employees International Union, which represents healthcare workers, is back in Iowa politics in a big way for 2018. A review of campaign finance reports show SEIU has already directed over $1.8 million to Cathy Glasson, their local president of SEIU 199, who is running for governor in the Democratic primary.
When Glasson initially got in the race in May, the talk in some Iowa political circles was that the major healthcare union had pledged $2 million for Glasson’s race in the primary. But with nearly that much already in the bank for the Coralville-based candidate, it’s possible SEIU could contribute even more than that by the June 6 primary.
Glasson was already gaining traction in the seven-way Democratic primary to take on Governor Kim Reynolds by consolidating support from progressive activists, but this amount of funding will ensure she’s very competitive throughout the race. She faces many contenders who are expected to be very well-funded, as this week’s finance reports should show. Fred Hubbell, a Des Moines businessman, raised $1 million in just his first week in the race. State Senator Nate Boulton has drawn significant support from labor unions, and former party chair Andy McGuire is expected to have serious money for her bid.
“Let’s face it: I’m not gonna be the candidate of the CEOs. I’m not gonna take their money,” Cathy Glasson said in a statement to Starting Line. “I’m running to give a voice again to working people, to the Iowans who have been ignored and left out. And I’m proud that thousands of working people are standing behind me with their votes and with their financial support.”
“Cathy is proud that nurses, home care workers and janitors are voluntarily pooling their hard-earned money together to invest in this campaign,” added Glasson campaign manager Brian Shepherd. “We are doing politics differently by building a long-term grassroots movement, including thousands of individual contributions, folks uniting together to gain political power, because working people deserve elected officials who will be on their side.”
The reports showing SEIU’s contributions have actually been online and public for some time (Glasson’s campaign has not yet filed their 2017 finance report). When out-of-state PACs donate to an Iowa candidate for state office, they have to file a “verified statement of registration” within a short amount of time. Those reports actually show up on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board website, though the data is very poorly organized and difficult to sift through.
Those filings show that a collection of SEIU locals have donated $1,819,931 to Glasson’s campaign so far. The SEIU International Committee on Political Education has contributed the bulk of that, sending just over $1.5 million in various installments over the past year.
They contributed about $55,000 on May 31, the day Glasson announced. $200,000 was sent the day after that. Another large investment of $600,000 was donated on December 28, with an additional $500,000 sent on January 3. That last half a million won’t show up on the January 19 finance report since it was contributed after the start of the new year.
Seventeen other SEIU local and state PACs contributed to Glasson in various amounts, totaling $283,000. They are:
SEIU United Healthcare Work: $25,000 – 6/29
SEIU Local 521 (San Jose, CA): $10,000 – 12/13
SEIU Local 121 RN PAC (Pasadena, CA): $10,000 – 7/6
SEIU Local 1000 (Sacramento, CA): $25,000 – 11/20
SEIU 775 Quality Care Committee: $10,000 – 8/2
SEIU Ohio State Join Council PCE: $50,000 – 7/6
SEIU Minnesota State Council Political Fund: $5,000
SEIU Local 73 Bi-Partisan PAC (Chicago, IL): $5,000 – 9/20
SEIU Local 6 PAC (Seattle, WA): $5,000 – 6/21
SEIU Local 500 DC PAC: $2,000 – 7/27
SEIU Local 49 COPE Fund (Portland, OR): $1,000 – 12/12
SEIU Local 2015 State PAC (Los Angeles, CA): $50,000 – 7/26
SEIU Illinois Council PAC: $25,000 – 7/25
SEIU Healthcare PA COPE: $10,000 – 6/29
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota: $10,000 – 8/22
SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW PAC (Renton, WA): $20,000 – 11/17, 6/29
SEIU Local 1: $10,000 – 6/30
SEIU Washington State Council: $10,000 – 6/6
SEIU’s international PAC also contributed $30,000 to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement on October 5, about a week after the progressive issue advocacy group’s Action Fund endorsed Glasson. They’ve been organizing town hall forums and other events for Glasson around the state.
This level of financial support will make Glasson the best-funded candidate running on the party’s left-most flank in a statewide primary in probably forever. She’s focused her message on $15/hour minimum wage, universal healthcare (including a single-payer system in Iowa if Congress doesn’t do it), a water quality plan that would punish polluters and support of making it easier to join unions. Her campaign has made an effort to win over many of the former Bernie Sanders activists in the state, and they seem to have been rather successful in that.
Campaign finance reports for 2017 are due on Friday of this week, which will show the additional individual contributions and small donor support that Glasson has received as well. It’ll also show what they’ve spent it on, but it’s already been apparent that her campaign has built out a very large field operation. That will be particularly useful for the upcoming Iowa Caucus on February 5 – delegates to the state convention selected through the caucus process could end up choosing the party’s nominee if no candidate receives 35% in the primary.
by Pat Rynard