In case you were wondering if the news could get even worse for vulnerable incumbent Congressman Rod Blum, you have your answer: it can. Abby Finkenauer, his Democratic opponent, will report raising a cool $1.6 million for the 3rd Quarter reporting period, her campaign tells Starting Line. That more than doubles her previous quarter’s haul of $765,000, which was already an all-time record for an Iowa Democratic congressional candidate for one quarter.
It comes on the heels of several impressive quarterly reports announced today from Democratic challenger candidates from around the country. Both Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s 6th District and Joshua Harder in California’s 10th District brought in more than $3 million apiece.
Finkenauer’s Iowa record-breaker gives her yet another edge in what Democrats see as one of their best pick-up opportunities in the country. If elected at age 29, the two-term state representative from Dubuque will be one of the youngest-ever women elected to the House (only New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a few months younger). A House majority for the party likely doesn’t happen without Finkenauer flipping Iowa’s 1st, and she’s gotten significant national attention for her run.
This fundraising total will ensure that Finkenauer is well-prepared for the final five weeks of the campaign regardless of what happens on the national level. The DCCC pulled their ad buys for a few weeks in September based on Finkenauer’s strength, but appears to be back up to help for most of October. Finkenauer and allied groups have still been significantly outspending Blum, though Blum’s been up on TV plenty.
Finkenauer’s total for the entire cycle now rises to $3.49 million. Compare that to some of Iowa’s biggest congressional finance records in past cycles (Tom Latham raised $3.4 million in 2012, Steve King got $3.75 million in 2012), and it’s very likely that Finkenauer ends 2018 as Iowa’s best congressional fundraiser ever.
Finkenauer’s campaign also notes that their average individual contribution for the whole cycle is $20.51, and 92% of individual contributions was less than $20. As Starting Line pointed out last week, Finkenauer has been running many online ads soliciting small donations in Iowa and around the country.
It all caps a good day for Finkenauer. She was endorsed by Barack Obama this morning in the former president’s second round of national endorsements. Obama carried Iowa’s 1st District by 13 points in 2012 before Donald Trump took it by four points in 2016.
Last week, a poll from the New York Times found Finkenauer up 15 points over Blum. Most Democratic operatives in the state believe that Finkenauer probably has an advantage over Blum, but that it’s not nearly that much.
There’s also caution on the race given that Blum was counted out by most pundits before his victories in both 2014 and 2016. Many counties in Iowa’s 1st District swung hard toward Trump and Republicans in 2016; there’s still some uncertainty over whether they’ve swung back just as hard yet for this blue-collar seat that used to be one of Democrats’ strongest in the state. Still, Finkenauer will clearly have the resources to finish strong.
by Pat Rynard