Government

Union donates $1.8 million to Glasson in Iowa governor's race

SEIU supports her push for higher minimum wage, universal health care

Cathy Glasson of Coralville speaks as she announces her bid for the Iowa governor race at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017. Candidates must file campaign finance disclosure statements by Friday, but early reports show Glasson, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 199, has collected more than $1.8 million from SEIU affiliates. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cathy Glasson of Coralville speaks as she announces her bid for the Iowa governor race at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Sep. 19, 2017. Candidates must file campaign finance disclosure statements by Friday, but early reports show Glasson, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 199, has collected more than $1.8 million from SEIU affiliates. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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The Service Employees International Union and several of its affiliates around the country have donated more than $1.8 million to Cathy Glasson’s campaign for Iowa governor, including $1.1 million since late December.

Glasson, of Coralville, is the president of SEIU Local 199 and one of seven Democrats seeking the party’s primary nomination. Her affiliation with SEIU, one of the major players in Democratic politics, has been seen as an asset to her campaign.

Reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board bear that out. A range of SEIU organizations from across the country have contributed to her campaign.

The biggest donor has been the SEIU International’s political committee, which has contributed about $1.5 million. Most of that came in donations of $600,000 and $500,000 on Dec. 28, 2017, and Jan. 3, respectively, according to the filings.

The figures were first reported Tuesday by the Iowa Starting Line blog.

Glasson’s campaign manager said the contributions demonstrate the level of support for her proposals, as well as the contacts she has made with union leaders across the country.

“Cathy’s been a leader for almost 20 years in the movement. She’s built a lot of relationships,” said Brian Shepherd, her campaign manager.

He said her push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and universal health care is drawing wide support and that SEIU unions “are very excited about one of their own members running.”

Glasson has received contributions from SEIU organizations in states that include California, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.

The donations go back to last June.

After months on the campaign trail, the gubernatorial candidates face an important test this week. Friday is the deadline to report on their fundraising and spending activities.

Glasson’s campaign hasn’t filed her report yet. The SEIU contributions were detailed in separate filings by the unions, which face a different set of deadlines.

Shortly after announcing his campaign last year, Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell announced he had already raised $1 million.

The pace of the governor’s campaign has picked up, with the Feb. 5 precinct caucuses approaching. The caucuses are the first step in picking delegates to the state convention.

On Thursday, the campaign for Iowa Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, unveiled his first television ad. It is running in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets and highlights his opposition to Republicans in the Legislature.

Hubbell, who has already been on television, also released a new TV ad last week.

Shepherd said Glasson was finalizing a new television ad campaign that would begin Thursday.

The seven-person race also includes former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire, former U.S. Department of Agriculture chief of staff John Norris, former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn and Jon Neiderbach, who used to be a member of the Des Moines school board.

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