To run a successful statewide campaign, candidates need time, a deep network of contacts, and these days, a lot of money.
Incumbents often are at a financial advantage when running for re-election — Republican Joni Ernst raised more than $1.1 million in the second fundraising quarter of this year — but that doesn’t mean her challengers don’t still have time to make the U.S. Senate race competitive.
Here is what we found digging through second quarter Federal Election Commission [FEC] data on Democrats Theresa Greenfield, Eddie Mauro and Kimberly Graham:
A DSCC Endorsement Helps
Greenfield, a small business owner from Des Moines, secured an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee within days of her June candidacy announcement. In Q2 (April 1 to June 30), Greenfield raised $628,080 and had $594,082 in cash-on-hand.
With the help of a DSCC endorsement, Greenfield brought in high-dollar donations from a variety of Democratic Political Action Committees [PACs] from other senators.
To date, EMILY’s List, a well-known national fundraiser for Democratic women that also quickly endorsed Greenfield, has routed $15,095 from its donors to Greenfield’s campaign.
Its money machine also is contributing to new Democratic House members like Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Lauren Underwood of Illinois.
Greenfield has received contributions from labor groups, including: the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees, $5,000; International Union of Operating Engineers, $10,000; and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $10,000.
She also has gotten a boost from her 2018 3rd Congressional District run, transferring $36,942 from that unsuccessful race to her Senate campaign.
Greenfield received a number of $2,800 donations (the most individuals can contribute per primary/general election cycle) from Iowans, including Des Moines businessman Fred Weitz and Cedar Rapids attorney Thomas Wertz.
Fred and Charlotte Hubbell donated a combined $5,600; former lieutenant governor Sally Pederson contributed $1,000; and multiple members of the Knapp real estate family gave $2,800.
Fred Eychaner, a well-known LGBTQ activist and Democratic donor from Chicago, contributed $2,800 in June.
Greenfield also had an assist from family members, securing $5,600 each from Kevin Greenfield of Alaska and Kimberly Greenfield of Colorado.
For Mauro, a businessman from Des Moines, the largest individual donations he received were from himself. Of the $204,587 contributed to his campaign, $100,000 was his own money.
Charlotte Hubbell also donated $2,800 in June to Mauro. And Des Moines businessman Frank Cataldo III contributed $2,800 to his primary and general election campaign funds.
Several members of the Mauro family contributed $2,800 or more to the campaign, and he had some help from Hollywood.
Basil Russo, the father of Marvel movie producers Anthony and Joe Russo, donated $2,800 to Mauro’s primary and general election campaign funds.
Graham, an attorney from Indianola, has built her campaign largely with small-dollar donors. Other than the individuals listed, she received $2,714 through the fundraising platform Democracy Engine. Graham raised a total of $8,712 in Q2.
All three Democratic candidates also utilized the Democratic fundraising engine ActBlue to bring in money.
What’s That PAC?
Nowadays, many Democratic candidates are averse to donations from Political Action Committees, especially those associated with banks, pharmaceutical companies and other large industries.
But many still accept donations from leadership PACs tied to specific politicians or issue groups.
Scrolling through FEC data, a number of amusingly-named PACs jumped out this quarter.
The Nutmeg PAC, for example, based in Stamford, Connecticut, donated $10,000 to Greenfield. The PAC is tied to Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and his efforts to elect more Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Officially known as The Constitution State, “The Nutmeg State” is another nickname for Connecticut.
New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich’s Lobo PAC donated $5,000 to Greenfield and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s Great Lakes PAC contributed $10,000.
Here are some other PACs from Democratic senators who have contributed to Greenfield:
MurphPAC, $5,000 – Chris Murphy of Connecticut; Friends of Maria, $4,000 – Maria Cantwell of Washington; Dakota Prairie PAC, $2,500 – former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota; Forward Together, $10,000 – Mark Warner of Virginia; All For Our Country Leadership, $10,000 – Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada; Getting Stuff Done, $10,000 – Krysten Sinema, Arizona.
This is a typical fundraising tactic used when the DSCC backs a specific candidate in a state – most of the other incumbent senators’ PACs all send over funds.
PAC donations were not among the funds raised for Mauro and Graham.
By Elizabeth Meyer
Photos by Julie Fleming