State Representative Abby Finkenauer’s campaign to take on Congressman Rod Blum continues to pick up steam following her large win in last month’s Democratic primary. Finkenauer will report raising over $765,000 in the second quarter of 2018, which appears to be the most ever raised in a single quarter by an Iowa Democratic congressional candidate.
That brings Finkenauer’s total raised for her campaign up to $1.8 million, ensuring she’ll be one of the best-funded Democrats in the state for her nationally-watched campaign in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Her campaign tells Starting Line that they’ve received donations from over 65,000 individuals with the average contribution amount being $16.
The impressive fundraising amount may be the biggest one-quarter total ever for a Democrat running for Congress in Iowa. Monica Vernon brought in $621,845 in the final quarter before her 2016 race in the same district. Jim Mowrer had $704,669 in donations in the 3rd quarter during his 4th District race in 2014. Christie Vilsack raised $657,818 in the last quarter of her 2012 campaign against Steve King in the 4th District. Finkenauer’s $1.8 million total has already surpassed the most Dave Loebsack has ever raised for an entire cycle (he raised $1.7 million total in 2014).
“Momentum for our campaign to bring a voice for hard-working Iowa families to Washington continues to grow,” Finkenauer said in a statement. “I’m excited to continue fighting for better jobs, better wages, and better healthcare on behalf of people all across this district in the weeks and months ahead. As we face the threat of an escalating trade war that will hurt Iowa’s economy, our families deserve a representative who will stand up for them every single day and won’t forget them.”
Nationally, Democrats see Iowa’s 1st District as one of their top pick-up opportunities in the entire country, even with the recent shifts in party loyalty in Northeast Iowa. The Cook Political Report rates the 1st District as a toss-up.
Both Finkenauer and Blum are from Dubuque, a place where working-class voters shifted from Democrat to Republican in large numbers in 2016 thanks in part to Donald Trump’s candidacy. Finkenauer has staked her campaign on her personal biography, highlighting her upbringing in a blue-collar family in her speeches and campaign ads. Her early TV ads and mailers featured the shirt her pipe-fitter/welder father wore while working, which has burn holes in it from the sparks of the welder.
Blum first won office in 2014 by running as an outsider, and his campaigns have been well-funded thanks to the businessman candidate’s willingness to self-finance. Blum rarely raises much from individual contributors, but he usually drops $500,000 into his account from himself once or twice a cycle. He’ll likely need to do more of that this year and get significant help from national Republican groups to compete with Finkenauer’s fundraising ability. Finkenauer has already out-raised him in the previous three quarters of the race.
Democrats are also optimistic about the race due to Blum’s unforced errors in the past year. His ties to a shady internet company drew significant headlines earlier this year, as did his angry walk-out from a TV interview last year.
National groups like EMILY’s List have been heavily invested in Finkenauer’s race, while she got the backing of many local labor unions during her primary. All of that has put her in a strong position financially to win back this swing district in November.
Finkenauer won her four-way Democratic primary last month with 67% of the vote.
by Pat Rynard