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

Recently those candidates’ fundraising efforts for 2017 were made public by a state campaign finance disclosure deadline.

Who fared well? Who went beyond Iowa’s borders for financial support? Who are the people donating thousands of dollars to these candidates?

The answers lie within hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports.

Who raised most?

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

Reynolds received $1.25 million from the Republican Party’s national organization that works to elect GOP governors.

Fred Hubbell was not far behind. The Des Moines businessman raised just shy of $3.1 million to easily outpace the Democratic field. The next-best Democrats didn’t raise half that. Cathy Glasson raised more than $1.3 million and Nate Boulton nearly $1.1 million.

Who spent most?

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

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

She has more than $4.1 million in her campaign account, almost four times what Hubbell has remaining. And Hubbell still faces a hotly contested Democratic primary.

Ron Corbett, the former Cedar Rapids mayor challenging Reynolds in the Republican primary, used up less than a third of what he raised in 2017, finishing the year with $579,000 left, roughly one-seventh of what the governor has in her account.

Candidates love to boast about how much of their campaign cash comes from the people they hope to represent.

Boulton, Hubbell and Republican candidate Ron Corbett had the highest share of Iowa donors among candidates who 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.

Cathy Glasson, on the other hand, received a scant 3.7 percent of her donations from Iowans. The Coralville nurse and labor leader has been endorsed by the Service Employees International Union, whose myriad political groups across the country have donated to her campaign.

Small donors

Glasson and Boulton also had the most grassroots support in the form of small donations from individuals. Glasson received 2,685 donations of less than $20, easily the most among all candidates. Boulton received 1,499 donations of less than $20. No other candidate had more than 135 such donations.

Big donors

Boulton and Glasson may have dominated small-donor support, but their campaigns also benefited from big-dollar support from labor organizations.

Boulton’s campaign is top-heavy with support from political fundraising committees; 25 of the top 27 donors in 2017 to the attorney and state senator’s campaign were political action committees, or PACs. Most of them 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 43 donations totaling more than $1.3 million to her campaign.

Hubbell relied on a network of high-dollar individual donors.

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

Hubbell also found a 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. Self-funding accounted for more than a third of McGuire’s fundraising in 2017: roughly $255,000 out of $719,000.

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 David North, president of an eastern Iowa claims management company, and his wife, and from the family of deceased paving and construction company CEO 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 for CRST.

Corbett also received $50,000 donations from a pair of individuals: Chris DeWolf, CEO of a Cedar Rapids health care drug distributor; and John Bloomhall, the CEO of an animal feed ingredients company who listed his home as Naples, Florida, 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.


State house reporter for The Courier/Lee Enterprises.

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