A March 18 deadline looms for candidates to submit the paperwork to be candidates for seats in the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate. Legislative leaders were busy raising money in 2015 to help finance those campaigns.
This is the sixth year Democrats have held a majority of seats in the Iowa Senate and Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock raised more than half a million dollars last year for the 2016 campaign. “Last cycle we had a number of seats that were in districts that favored Democrat registration, Democrat voting history,” Dix says. “This cycle we have seats, about half a dozen actually, that give us an opportunity to go on offense, seats that have a history of voting Republican and have a Republican voter registration advantage, so clearly, the stars may be lining up.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs raised about $218,000 last year to help fellow Democrats run for seats in the senate. “Listen, we have recruited great candidates,” Gronstal says. “That is 90 percent of every election cycle is having great candidates. We have all but one of our incumbents running for reelection…That incumbent is in a safe seat and whoever wins the primary there will more than likely end up being the state senator from that district.”
In the Iowa House, Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake raised about $435,000 last year to help Republican candidates. House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown raised far less, about $119,000. The Republican Party of Iowa says the GOP fundraising totals are records.
Legislators are not allowed to raise money from lobbyists and political action committees during the legislative session, so that high-dollar fundraising stopped on the morning of January 11 when the Iowa General Assembly convened and will resume when the legislature adjourns.