Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman is not off to a great start in her reelection effort in 2018. Campaign finance reports released last week showed the incumbent having only raised $28,392 through all of last year, and she’s currently sitting on $62,458 cash on hand. Her Democratic opponent, Rob Sand, posted a record-breaking $200,854 haul, which he raised in just seven weeks after announcing in November. Sand has $166,148 cash on hand.
Judging from her contribution listings, Mosiman appeared to have one or a few fundraisers right in late August and early September last year which accounted for the bulk of her totals. She raised just $275 after Sand’s announcement, despite the fact that it was obvious at that point that she would face a tough Democratic challenger. Only two large checks came in for Mosiman – $2,500 from Ying Sa, a CPA from Des Moines, and $2,000 from Connie Underwood of Ames.
Also troubling for Mosiman is that several of her large donors from her last run have begun contributing to Sand, both in this report and in the past few weeks after the deadline. Sand has a couple of personal connections in some donor circles that typically give to Republicans like Mosiman.
Sand himself impressed many in Iowa political circles with his $200,000 total raised, and his finance report shows he drew from a couple of key sources for Democrats. The Des Moines donor crowd, including people like Bill Knapp, Rich Eychaner, Michael Gartner and Michael Simonson, pitched in with checks from $2,500 to $19,000. He had dozens of personal friends from around the country in states like California, New York and the D.C. area donate $1,000 or more. Sand donated another $10,000 from himself into his campaign.
Sand also received exactly 100 donations from his hometown of Decorah, totaling $16,401 in all. Not a bad fundraising base from the Northeast Iowa town of about 8,000 people.
Several members of the Mandelbaum family contributed to Sand. Newly-elected Des Moines City Councilman Josh Mandelbaum is a neighbor of Sand, and Mandelbaum’s former campaign manager is now running Sand’s operation. Much of the donor network for the high-spending council race has now migrated over to Sand’s run.
And he also had a strong small donor base, with 609 donations of $100 or less. Over 800 people in all gave to Sand during the seven weeks he was in the race in 2017.
The campaign spent $34,706 in its first report, with a big chunk of that going to a $10,000 digital media investment through GPS Consulting. Plastering Iowa social media and websites with online advertising is the new go-to way to quickly get a new candidate’s name out there.
Also, in case you’re one of those activists who wonders how you keep getting emails from all kinds of new candidates, Sand’s expenditure list explains that a little. His campaign paid $4,000 to acquire a 60,000-person email list from Jim Mowrer’s campaign – that’s at a cost of 6.6 cents per email.
It all looks like a campaign well-positioned to run a strong and competitive effort through November, with enough funds to get on TV in the final month or two. That kind of head start might cause some Republican donors to question how much they should invest in Mosiman given all the other must-win races on the ballot this year.
That’s probably the biggest problem for Mosiman – in her 2014 race, she received $50,000 from the state Republican Party. That was a decent percentage of her $178,166 total raised for that cycle. With the competitiveness of this year’s governor’s race and control of the Iowa Legislature at stake in a potential wave year, Republicans may not have enough extra funds to prop up Mosiman this time.
by Pat Rynard