The federal government may be shut down, but that hasn’t stopped fundraising efforts for candidates promising to end the gridlock in Washington.
The big winner in the U.S. House 1st District money primary, at least for the July 1 to Sept. 30 quarter, was Swati Dandekar of Marion, one of five Democrats seeking the nomination in the open-seat race.
In her first fundraising quarter, Dandekar, a former member of the state Legislature and Iowa Utilities Board, reported raising $223,747.
That puts her in the same ballpark as Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon and Rep. Pat Murphy of Dubuque, who have raised about $225,000 and $230,000, respectively, since they entered the race.
Murphy raised $78,000 in the third quarter, according to his Federal Election Commission quarterly report.
The October reports were the first from Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien and Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo. He reported raising $103,973 – more than the other candidates raised in their first quarter.
Kajtazovic reported raising $37,051.
Based on her extensive network of business and political connections in Iowa and beyond, Dandekar was expected to put up impressive numbers.
Democrats expected Dandekar to put up impressive numbers based on her work and connections in Iowa and beyond.
“I think it shows that I’m a formidable candidate,” Dandekar said. “I’m a serious candidate – that’s the message.”
There was some question whether Democrats would open their wallets because of bad feelings about her resigning her Iowa Senate seat to accept GOP Gov. Terry Branstad’s appointment to the Iowa Utilities Board. Her resignation, some said, jeopardized Democrats’ 26-24 majority.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Dandekar said when asked if it put that argument to rest. “But not one single person I called said they were mad at me.”
Murphy and Vernon boasted about their labor union endorsements and the number of individual contributors supporting them.
“With his impressive grassroots fundraising, support from labor and his long list of public supporters, “Murphy has established himself as the frontrunner,” according to his campaign. He has received more than 1,600 contributions – 1,200 from Iowans.
Her numbers show it is “clear that people are looking for a fresh perspective — someone who can break through the gridlock to solve problems and get things done,” Vernon said. She has contributions from 730 people.
O’Brien sounded a similar theme, saying his strong fundraising start showed 1st District Democrats looking for a successor to Rep. Bruce Braley want “another strong, progressive voice … who will stand up for the middle class and work to break the gridlock in Washington.”
Her fundraising numbers reflected Kajtazovic’s emphasis on meeting voters.
“While other candidates focused on making money calls, I toured every county in the district,” she said. Her campaign has raised funds from more than 350 individuals including a 66-year-old man from West Union who sent $3 along with a plea to help the poor and working people.”
“I may be outspent in this race, but I will not be outworked and the people of the 1st District will never have to question where I stand,” she said.
On the GOP ticket, Dubuque businessman Rod Blum reported raising $60,000 in the most recent quarter. The campaign said it has received contributions from more than 400 individuals.
The third quarter number is down from the $103,108 Blum reported in July, but more than his raised in the entire 2012 Republican primary race, he said.
With $140,000 cash on hand and a grassroots team of more than 230 precinct leaders “will provide the muscle necessary to run a winning Republican campaign,” according to Blum’s campaign manager Paul Smith.
Steve Rathje, a Cedar Rapids businessman seeking the GOP nod, had not made his fundraising numbers available by late afternoon Tuesday, the deadline for filing with the FEC.
A third GOP hopeful, Rep. Walt Rogers of Waterloo, entered the race after the third quarter ended, so he did not file.