Iowa governor's race: Unions, big-money donors and multimillion-dollar hauls

Gov. Kim Reynolds raised the most of all, with more than $3.7 million

Gov. Kim Reynolds raised more than any other candidate for the job in 2017. About a third of it came from the national Republican Party in its efforts to elect GOP governors. She also has more than $4 million campaign cash on hand. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Gov. Kim Reynolds raised more than any other candidate for the job in 2017. About a third of it came from the national Republican Party in its efforts to elect GOP governors. She also has more than $4 million campaign cash on hand. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — A dozen Iowans hope to become the state’s next governor.

And to help accomplish that, four of them in 2017 raised more than $1 million apiece — some of them far more.

Recently filed campaign financial disclosures reveal how often the candidates reached outside Iowa to obtain donations, how much of the money they raised came from big donors and how much of the cash they still have left on hand as the party primaries loom less than a half year away.

Only one candidate did not meet the deadline for filing a disclosure, Libertarian Marco Battaglia of Des Moines.

It’s likely some of the answers found in the finance reports will be used by candidates to frame their rivals and the race as Iowans prepare to choose their next governor.


Able to draw on the contacts and supporters developed during her time in office — as governor since last summer and as lieutenant governor for the six-plus years before that — Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds raised the most money in 2017 of all the candidates — more than $3.7 million.

She received a big boost — $1.25 million — from the Republican Party’s national organization that works to elect GOP governors.

Democrat Fred Hubbell was not far behind.

The Des Moines businessman raised just shy of $3.1 million to easily outpace the field of other Democratic candidates. The next-highest Democrat rival didn’t raise half of Hubbell’s haul.


Two more candidates, both Democrats, raised seven figures in 2017: Nurse and union leader Cathy Glasson raised more than $1.3 million, and state Sen. Nate Boulton nearly $1.1 million.


Hubbell was far and away the biggest spender in 2017. He devoted more than $1.8 million, including over $255,000 on television and radio advertising. He was the first of the candidate to air TV ads in Iowa.

Reynolds has not yet advertised on TV and thus spent only a small portion of what she raised. That indicates she believes she is in a strong position to survive the GOP challengers without using too many resources before the June primary election.

As a result, Reynolds by far has the most money in her campaign account: more than $4.1 million, almost four times what Hubbell has left. And Hubbell still has to work over the next five months to win a hotly contested primary.

Ron Corbett, the former Cedar Rapids mayor who is challenging Reynolds in the Republican primary, spent at a conservative rate, using up less than a third of what he raised in 2017 and finishing the year with just shy of $579,000 left for the stretch run.

Nonetheless, if he is to make the GOP primary race against Reynolds competitive, he must do so with roughly one-seventh of what the governor has in her account.


CandidatePartyRaised in 2017Spent in 2017Cash on hand
Kim ReynoldsRepublican$3,744,046.95$688,845.45$4,140,180.56
Fred HubbellDemocrat$3,053,257.53$1,821,899.32$1,231,358.21
Cathy GlassonDemocrat$1,323,055.97$593,654.39$729,401.58
Ron CorbettRepublican$844,637.84$265,740.05$578,897.79
Nate BoultonDemocrat$1,078,207.97$596,832.38$481,375.59
Andy McGuireDemocrat$677,584.98$422,478.74$255,106.24
John NorrisDemocrat$302,300.75$158,218.82$144,081.93
Steven RayRepublican$3,190.00$2,744.18$445.82
Jake PorterLibertarian$870.00$910.04$265.00
Jon NeiderbachDemocrat$1,630.35$1,454.60$175.75
Ross WilburnDemocrat$8,624.82$8,517.08$107.74

Source: Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board

* Reynolds started 2017 with $1,084,979.06 in her campaign account
* Porter started 2017 with $305.04 in his campaign account
* Libertarian candidate Marco Battaglia did not file a report

Candidates love to boast about how much of their fundraising came from the people they hope to represent.

Democrats Boulton and Hubbell and Republican Corbett had the highest share of Iowa donors among the candidates that raised at least six figures. Boulton set the mark with 83.7 percent of his donors or donor organizations coming from Iowa; 78.3 percent of Corbett’s donors were Iowans, as were 75.7 percent of Hubbell’s.

Democrat Glasson, on the other hand, received a scant 3.7 percent of her donations from Iowans.


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The Coralville nurse has been endorsed by the Service Employees International Union, whose political groups across the country have donated to her campaign. So the vast majority of her donations came from outside Iowa.


In addition to their support from labor groups, Glasson and Boulton also had the most grass-roots support in the field of candidates, in the form of small donations from individuals.

Glasson got 2,685 donations of less than $20 from individuals, easily the most of all.

Boulton got 1,499 donations of less than $20.

No other candidate had more than 135 such donations.


Boulton and Glasson dominated the field in small-donor support, but their campaign accounts also benefited from high-dollar support from labor organizations.

Boulton’s campaign is top-heavy with support from fundraising committees; 25 of the top 27 donors in 2017 to the lawyer and state senator’s campaign were political action committees. Most are tied to labor groups, and the donations ranged from $5,000 to $30,000.

Glasson’s campaign is even heavier in support from labor-related PACs. The various SEIU groups made to her campaign 43 donations totaling more than $1.3 million.

Hubbell did not rely on political groups, but instead a network of high-dollar individuals.

Hubbell received more than 600 donations of $1,000 or more from individuals. At the very top, he received a pair of $100,000 donations: one from Norwalk’s Art Coppola, chief executive of a retail real estate company; and one from Van Meter’s William Knapp, chairman of a real estate development company.

Hubbell also found another high-dollar donor close to home: himself. He donated more than $118,000 to his campaign, and another $75,000 donation is credited to his wife, Charlotte.

He was not the only self-funder. The top five donations to Democrat Andy McGuire, a physician and former state party leader, came from McGuire herself. Self-funding accounted for more than a third of her fundraising in 2017.


Reynolds received four six-figure donations from Iowans: two totaling $275,000 from the family of Jeff Hansen, owner of the pork producer Iowa Select Farms; and $100,000 each from Deb Hansen, the wife of David North, president of an Eastern Iowa claims management company, and from the family of deceased paving and construction company chief executive Robert Horner.

Corbett also benefited from big-money donors. He received $100,000 from Dyan Smith, the wife of John Smith, who owns the Cedar Rapids trucking business CRST International. Corbett used to work there.

He also received $50,000 donations from a pair of individuals: Chris DeWolf, chief executive of a Cedar Rapids health care drug distributor; and John Bloomhall, chief executive of an animal feed ingredients company who listed his home as Naples, Fla., but also has had a home and office in Marion.

Nearly half of Corbett’s 2017 fundraising came from the 10 biggest donations to his campaign, including a transfer of nearly $42,000 from his former mayoral campaign account.



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