Iowans don’t often pay much attention to the election for State Auditor every four years. They certainly will be watching in 2018, thanks at least in part to Democrat Rob Sand’s continued fundraising success.
Sand’s campaign will report raising $179,000 in the January 1 – May 14 report that is due on Monday, bringing his total raised for the race up to $380,000 (he brought in $200,000 in the first seven weeks of his campaign). That $179,000 figure means that he once again brought in more money in one fundraising period than incumbent Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman raised for her entire 2014 race.
Mosiman has now ramped up her fundraising effort some after seeing Sand’s initial haul. Her finance report is already online; she brought in $60,991 during this reporting period. That’s better than most of her past reports, but it still trails Sand by a three-to-one margin this time. Terry Branstad kicked in $1,000 to her from overseas.
But there will be several big, extra warning signs for Mosiman in Sand’s report, including the names of many well-known Republicans who are contributing to Sand instead of the incumbent. Joan Beebe, John Wheeler, Jim Cownie, Doug Moore, Sue Kirke, Keith Uhl, Phyllis Hansel, Stan Reynolds, James Gilliam and Mollie Baker all donated to Sand.
Frank Brownell is helping out both sides in this race. He gave $10,000 to both Sand and Mosiman.
The office of State Auditor is largely free from partisan politics, though the office-holder can certainly use it to provide cover for members of their own party, as many Democrats have accused Mosiman of doing for Reynolds. But most of the fundraising in these races fall along party lines. So it ought to be troubling for Mosiman for this many Republican donors to be backing Sand early on.
Sand also has plenty of your Democratic leaders kicking in, including Tom and Christie Vilsack. He also has Don Timmins, a CPA leader in Iowa, Adam Skaggs, the chief counsel for Gabby Gifford’s anti-gun violence group, and Alice Rivlin, the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office. One other notable name on Sand’s list: Rhea Perlman, the actress from Cheers.
That financial advantage will be crucial in this down-ballot race. There’s not typically a lot of news coverage of this race (although Sand has been generating some tough press for Mosiman over the Iowa Finance Authority scandal and other auditing misses). So, the only way many voters ever hear about this state office is if the candidates have enough resources to get on TV and in the mail.
Sand already has one very well-produced digital ad that’s been running online for several weeks now. It highlights his work in taking down the biggest lottery scam in American history:
by Pat Rynard