Gubernatorial candidates raise record funds

Gov. Kim Reynolds and Fred Hubbell have raised $12.86 million in the last three months leading up to the midterm elections.


Rodney White/The Register

Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell face each other for the first time in a debate hosted by the Des Moines Register and KCCI Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

The last three months have been a whirlwind of fundraising and spending for Iowa gubernatorial candidates, according to campaign finance reports released Oct. 19. The documents reveal record-high contributions and expenditures between the two major candidates.

Throughout the reporting period of July 15 to Oct. 14, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, and Democratic candidate Fred Hubbell raised a grand combined total of $12.86 million. The two campaigns spent $16 million.

The numbers come two and a half weeks ahead of the midterm elections, which will decide Iowa’s next chief executive.

In comparison, $10.7 million were raised in total by the candidates in Iowa’s 2014 campaign for governor.

The campaign-finance reports, which were released by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclousre Board, show that Hubbell raised nearly twice as much as Reynolds with about $8.4 million of contributions in total.

Reynolds reportedly raised $4.5 million since Oct. 15. She spent $6.8 million and has $1.26 millions for the future. The Republican Governors Association was a major contributor, donating approximately $2 million.

Hubbell started off in October with around $2 million. After spending $9.2 million on his campaign, he retains $1.1 million. Self-funding accounted for a portion of his funds, with $900,000 donated in Hubbell’s name.

Iowa gubernatorial candidates also broke records in 2017, when they collectively received $11 million over the year.

RELATED: Hubbell leads in fundraising, polls ahead of primaries

This year’s data continue a trend of increased fundraising and spending among major political candidates.

Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science, said candidates often have to spend much more time raising money than they prefer, because of a wide range of campaign necessities. He said the millions of dollars in campaign funding can go for salaries of consultants and professionals, campaign headquarters, advertising, and items such as T-shirts, bumper stickers, yard signs, and more.

Hagle said paid media, especially television advertisements, plays a prominent and increasingly costly role in campaign spending.

“Especially when they’re more in demand, the rates that television stations will charge will be different during regular years as opposed to around election time, when you have all the campaigns competing to get on the air,” Hagle said.

UI political-science lecturer Kelly Shaw said constraints on the amount of money political parties can donate have also led to candidates seeking out other sources, such as donors and interest groups.

“There is a lot more money coming into campaigns from outside sources, meaning super PACs or regular political-action committees,” Shaw said. “That is driving up the amount of money you need to run a competent and viable election.”

Iowa is unique in allowing unlimited campaign contributions from groups and individuals, said Megan Tooker, the executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

She said only banks, corporations, credit unions, and insurance companies are barred from donating to campaigns.

“We’re among a minority of states that do so,” Tooker said. “Unlike at the federal level, we see fewer independent expenditures, and I think that’s because of the unlimited campaign contributions.”

Tooker said disclosing financial information is important for the public.

“I think the public has a right to know who’s supporting the candidates in a race, where the money is coming from, and what individuals or groups may be influencing their policy positions,” Tooker said.

Here’s a breakdown:

Kim Reynolds — R

    • Cash on hand at beginning of period: $3,629,686.13
    • Raised: $4,501,206.95
    • Cash on hand at end of period: $1,269,302.77
    • Spent: $6,861,590.31
    • Top 5 contributors:
    • 1. RGA Right Direction PAC, $1,000,000
    • 2. RGA Right Direction PAC, $1,000,000
    • 3. Republican State Leadership Committee, $100,000
    • 4. Republican State Leadership Committee, $100,000


Fred Hubbell — D

  • Cash on hand at beginning of period: $1,952,673.06
  • Raised: $8,357,927.45
  • Spent: $9,209,037.34
  • Cash on hand at end of period: $1,101,563.17
  • Top 5 donors:
  • 1. Fred Hubbell, $500,000
  • 2. Fred Hubbell, $400,000
  • 3. DGA Victory Fund, $250,000
  • 4. Iowa Council 61 P.E.O.P.L.E., $150,000
  • 5. Iowa Democratic Party, $123,380