Shake Ups In Iowa’s Federal Races After New Financial Reports

With this week’s 2nd quarter campaign finance reports out, we now have a clearer look at where Iowa’s federal races stand. Some potential candidates have seen what they’d be up against and decided against a run. Others have added their names to a 2020 primary. Here’s where things stand:

U.S. Senate

Despite the influx of news coming from other points on the congressional map, Sen. Joni Ernst’s re-election race has remained unchanged from when she kicked off her campaign June 15.

Ernst’s latest Federal Election Commission [FEC] filing shows she raised more than $1.1 million in the second quarter (April 1 to June 30), though $385,000 of that was transfers from other committees. The overall number is less than what she raised earlier in the year, but still the most of any candidate in the race.

Theresa Greenfield, a Democrat from Des Moines with backing from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, raised the most of her primary opponents at $628,080. About $36,000 of that came from committee transfers.

Democrats Eddie Mauro and Kimberly Graham round out the primary field. Mauro brought in $204,587, of which $100,000 came from himself. Graham raised $8,712.

Sioux Center native Michael Franken told Iowa Starting Line in June he was considering a run against Ernst. The Northwest Iowa Democrat is a retired Navy admiral who worked in Washington, both politically and militarily. He is expected to make a decision this summer on whether to join the Democratic primary field.

Iowa House District 1

Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s race also has remained steady. She has no Democratic opponent, but two Republicans reported fundraising, with one in particular appearing capable of posing a financial challenge to the incumbent.

Finkenauer outraised the field at $440,911 in Q2, but Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion also broke the six-figure mark at $337,553.

Former congressman Rod Blum, who Finkenauer defeated in 2018 by about 5 percentage points, has not said whether he will attempt a rematch with Finkenauer, but it’s looking unlikely.

Thomas Hansen, chairman of the Winneshiek County Republicans, remains in the race but raised less than $1,000.

Iowa House District 2

Though no official announcement has been made, the race for Rep. Dave Loebsack’s open seat likely will gain another prominent candidate.

State Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks recently told Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, she resigned her seat on the State Central Committee because she was “exploring a congressional run.”

“I think the most ethical decision would be for me to resign while I determine if this is the best course for me, my family and the citizens of the second congressional district,” said Miller-Meeks, in a letter to Kaufmann.

Miller-Meeks, of Ottumwa, was elected in 2018 to represent District 41 in the Iowa Senate. Prior to her election to the Iowa Legislature, she ran three times for Loebsack’s seat in Congress, mostly recently in 2014.

If she were to run again, she would face former Illinois congressman Bobby Schilling in a primary.

Schilling announced his candidacy earlier this month, after the 2nd financial quarter.

Rita Hart, however, raised $279,593 in the first six weeks of her congressional campaign. Newman Abuissa, an engineer from Iowa City who also had said he would seek the Democratic nomination, reported no fundraising numbers.

Iowa House District 3

State Sen. Zach Nunn made news this week in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, putting to rest the possibility of a campaign against Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne.

Nunn, a Republican from Bondurant, embarked on a 16-county “Listening Tour” this year to test the waters, ultimately deciding to pursue an opportunity with the U.S. State Department to help oversee upcoming parliamentary elections in Ukraine.

“I am humbled by the responsibility to help protect democracy in this key geopolitical region,” said Nunn, chairman of Iowa’s International Relations Committee. “This is about ensuring democracy in a place that once experienced first-hand authoritarian Soviet control and hostile puppet governments.”

Without Nunn, that leaves Republican David Young as the presumed frontrunner in the race to unseat Axne, elected in 2018.

Axne raised about twice as much money in Q2 as Young, reporting $603,287. She has $840,766 in cash-on-hand compared to Young’s $342,480.

If Young were to win the primary, the race for the 3rd District seat would mirror 2018, when Axne and Young squared off in a close race that delivered a two-point win for Axne.

Iowa House District 4

The race against Republican Rep. Steve King remains a one-party contest. No Democrat has announced yet whether they will attempt to unseat the nine-term incumbent, though his 2018 challenger, J.D. Scholten, has yet to rule it out.

Despite King’s incumbent status, he lags significantly in fundraising behind his top primary opponent, state Sen. Randy Feenstra of Hull.

Feenstra, who in the past received a campaign contribution from former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, reported $337,314 in cash-on-hand at the end of Q2.

King, however, raised only $91,536 and has $18,365 in cash-on-hand.

Bret Richards of Irwin remains in the race with $19,579 in cash-on-hand, while Jeremy Taylor, a Woodbury County supervisor, has $44,968.

Of the three Republicans challenging King in the primary, all reported more cash-on-hand than the incumbent congressman.


by Elizabeth Meyer
Photos by Julie Fleming
Posted 7/17/19

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