Iowa Democrats nearly swept their Republican opponents in fundraising in the final quarter before Election Day, setting the candidates up for plenty of TV time, mailers and a barrage of social media ads.
The U.S. Senate race between first-term senator Joni Ernst and Democrat Theresa Greenfield provides the most striking fundraising a federal Iowa race has ever seen. Greenfield raised an unprecedented $28.7 million from July 1 to Sept. 30, bringing in more money in one three-month period than Ernst and her Democratic opponent combined when the seat was last up for grabs in 2014. Greenfield closed the quarter with $9.5 million in the bank.
Politico reported this week that ActBlue, Democrats’ online fundraising platform, brought in $1.5 billion for the party’s candidates and left-leaning groups in Q3, contributing to the massive money hauls Democratic Senate candidates are seeing across the country.
Jaime Harrison, running to unseat South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, dominated the field with $57 million raised. Other double-digit totals include Mark Kelly’s $38.7 million in Arizona, $28.3 million for Cal Cunningham in North Carolina and $26.8 million for Steve Bullock in Montana, among several others.
Though Ernst also had her best fundraising quarter to date at $7.2 million, it pales in comparison to the financial heft behind Greenfield as Democrats work to retake the Senate. In the final 18-day stretch, Ernst has $4.3 million in cash-on-hand.
Greenfield wasn’t the only Democrat to out-perform her Republican opponent. Here is a look at how candidates fared in Iowa’s four congressional races.
Iowa House District 1
In Eastern Iowa, state Rep. Ashley Hinson bested Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer by about $200,000 in Q3, raising $1.6 million to Finkenauer’s $1.4 million. Hinson has $729,537 in the bank and Finkenauer has $619,366, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed on Thursday.
As the Republican Party tries to recruit more women to run for office, Hinson has benefitted from national attention and fundraising assists from other House candidates across the country. She also lives in the suburbs of Cedar Rapids, a demographic Republicans are hemorrhaging under Donald Trump as suburban women reject the top of the ticket in poll after poll this year.
But Finkenauer also fits the district well, touting her small town roots and the union household in which she grew up. When likely voters were asked in a September Des Moines Register Mediacom/Iowa Poll whether they intended to vote for a Democrat or Republican in the 1st District, 47% said Democrat compared to 41% who sided with the GOP.
Iowa House District 2
Democrat Rita Hart raised more money in the third fundraising quarter than any 2nd District candidate has in history, recording a $1.5 million haul in the race for an open seat in Southeast Iowa. Hart closed the quarter with $986,396 in cash-on-hand.
State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks also trumped her previous record, bringing in $513,843 and closing with $383,563 in the bank.
Hart is putting her money to use with a new TV ad out today, showing the candidate on her farm in Wheatland as she talks about the “culture of corruption” in Congress “that sprouts up like weeds.”
“Stop insider trading by members of Congress, ban them permanently from ever becoming lobbyists and rein in the corrupting influence of drug and insurance companies,” Hart says.
Miller-Meeks also is slated to be on TV in some of the district’s media markets in the coming days, with ads booked on WQAD in the Quad Cities and KCRG in Cedar Rapids.
Iowa House District 3
For the 10th fundraising quarter in a row, Congresswoman Cindy Axne raised more money than David Young. In Q3, Axne raised $1.5 million compared to Young’s $801,775. In cash-on-hand, Axne has $1.6 million and Young has $1 million.
Axne is appearing today in Urbandale with Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris’ husband, for a GOTV event as she works to keep Central and Southwest Iowa blue.
Iowa House District 4
Despite Western Iowa’s 4th District being a tough seat for Democrats, J.D. Scholten far out-raised state Sen. Randy Feenstra.
Scholten, seeking for a second time to represent the district, raised $815,637 compared to Feenstra’s $456,869. Scholten has $638,964 in the bank and Feenstra has only $275,489 as the candidates head into the final stretch of the campaign.
In a press release about his fundraising, Scholten notes he does not have the financial backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or political action committees. In comparison, 46% percent of Feenstra’s Q3 dollars, Scholten said, came from PACs and “corporate special interests, many of which are sucking the wealth, power, and opportunities out of the district.
“These fundraising totals couldn’t better represent the stark differences between the two campaigns on the ballot,” Scholten said in a statement. “Our grassroots, people-powered campaign doesn’t take a dime from corporations or the DCCC and we’ve earned donations from folks across the political spectrum in all 39 counties of the district.”
Scholten recently completed his 374-town tour of the 4th District and is set to debate Feenstra for the first time on Oct. 21.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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