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Iowa’s U.S. Senate race is all about money this week in light of the FEC filing deadline of October 15th.  Here is what we know so far.

  • Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) leads the money race reporting that he raised more than $900,000 and has more than $2.3 million in the bank.
  • State Senator Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak) currently leads the Republican field.  She raised $252,067.45 with 500 total donors.  334 donors contributed $100 or less signaling grassroots support.  This is her first quarter of fundraising.
  • Conservative radio host and college professor Sam Clovis released his 3rd quarter numbers yesterday.  He raised $75,000 and has $35,000 cash on hand.  Clovis’ campaign manager Michael Biundo said, “Our average donation was $150.00, with over 450 individual donors.  Of that number, 350 donors gave 100 or less – 200 of the contributions were under $50.00. There will be no PAC money in this filing and the overwhelming majority of Sam’s support came right here from hard working Iowans.”

Matt Whitaker raised $110,000 and David Young raised $153,000 in the 2nd Quarter, so it’ll be interesting to see if they improve upon that in the 3rd Quarter.  I’m doubtful though or they probably would have released those numbers already and shouting it from the rooftops.  Clovis last quarter raised only $13,607 so he’s raised less than $90,000 since he launching his campaign.

I’m not concerned about the fundraising disparity – yet.  Braley doesn’t have a contested primary so he also doesn’t have any competition among Democrat donors.  Also there will be PAC money coming to play soon enough as this will be a hotly contested seat.

What Clovis lacks in fundraising ability he makes up with grassroots organizing.  He has over 200 grassroots organizers, whom they call county co-chairs in 40 different counties.  He will need strong volunteer support if fundraising continues to be lackluster.

Schaben won’t even be on the radar.  Mark Jacobs doesn’t have to file since he is still in exploratory phase.

Ernst had a good week with Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds endorsing her candidacy.  It’s not a surprise.  Reynolds told Caffeinated Thoughts that the Branstad apparatus will not be giving Ernst a hand, that her endorsement was a personal one.  That said, Governor Terry Branstad has said on several occasions that she is an intriguing candidate or an interesting candidate.  He hasn’t said that about anybody else so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who he favors in the race.

Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican believes the Branstad campaign could benefit Ernst:

Reynolds’ endorsement will surely help Ernst, but it could also create some heartburn for the Branstad campaign. The chummy relationship between the Branstad campaign and the Ernst campaign has raised concerns in other U.S. Senate camps.  The fact that the Branstad campaign’s communications director, Jimmy Centers, was standing alongside of Reynolds at the Monday press conference only adds to those concerns.

It is also no secret that the Branstad campaign is organizing its supporters to be delegates at the county, district, and state conventions in an effort to elect new leadership at the Republican Party of Iowa.  If no candidate reaches the 35 percent threshold in the primary, state delegates will select the nominee, which could potentially give Ernst a big advantage.

He could be right, but here’s a couple of thoughts.  Branstad won’t be the only one organizing supporters to be delegates.  Even if the liberty camp loses out that doesn’t mean Ernst will have an advantage.  I recognize that Craig said “could” so he wasn’t writing with absolute certainty, but I also look at Branstad’s track record with chosen candidates in contested primaries.  Frankly, it’s abysmal.  So it’s understandable why he said endorsements don’t mean much during last Monday’s press conference because his frankly hasn’t.  Reynolds could be a different story.  All in all I believe it’s a net positive.

Time will tell.  Ernst leads in endorsements which helps to drive a narrative if not votes (which in turn helps with fundraising).

The upcoming debate should be interesting and perhaps will force some daylight in between the candidates.  I predict Whitaker and Clovis to do very well.  Clovis can handle himself in debates, and in a recent forum Whitaker also demonstrated depth in his answers.  I’m not quite as sure about Young and Ernst, debates may not be their strong suit.  Schaben, well, my mother always told me that if I can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.  Watch his performance at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum and you tell me how you think he’ll do.  Of course Mark Jacobs won’t be there so he’ll continue with his biographical tour in order to not discuss issues in depth thus avoiding questions like – why do you donate to Democrats?

Matt Whitaker won Caffeinated Thoughts straw poll which means absolutely nothing, but it is fun.

Those who may get in… Rod Roberts is still kicking the idea around, and he said he’ll make his decision before Thanksgiving and possibly even this month.  He’s run a statewide race and I’m sure still has a network throughout the state so he could make a big splash.  Bob Vander Plaats is weighing a Senate run and could decide by the end of the year.  He has the potential to suck the air out of the race.  He has people who are fiercely loyal, but he also has a lot of people, even within the Republican party, who view him negatively.  He has something that all of the current candidates really lack – name recognition.  The liberty wing of the party could still field a candidate.  I’m pretty confident it will not be Republican Party of Iowa chair A.J. Spiker.  I think it is more likely to be Republican Party of Iowa co-chair David Fischer.  Iowa GOP Finance Chair Drew Ivers has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, but I think Fischer is the most likely of the three former Iowa co-chairs for Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign.

So we have the possibility of a nine-person race.  *Yay*

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