Here are the most expensive primary races for Iowa House…

Gun Rights

A woman stands in a voting booth to mark her ballot at the early voting area in the Lindale Mall food court in Cedar Rapids on Oct. 29, 2020. (The Gazette)
A woman stands in a voting booth to mark her ballot at the early voting area in the Lindale Mall food court in Cedar Rapids on Oct. 29, 2020. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa’s primary elections are next week, when voters choose candidates for the general election ballot in November.

While some legislative primary elections are small, low-budget grassroots affairs, others have seen fundraising of tens of thousands of dollars, TV advertising and endorsements from prominent statewide groups.

Candidates in legislative primary races raised more than $620,000 and spent more than $395,000 in the period between Jan. 1 and May 14, according to reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

Five incumbents in the House and two Senate incumbents are facing challenges from within their own party. In the other 15 legislative primary contests, there is no incumbent running or there are multiple candidates running for the chance to challenge an incumbent of the opposite party in the general election.

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Republicans hold majorities in both the House and Senate, and are hoping to grow their majorities in November.

House Speaker Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, said in a statement the party’s candidates have set their focus on fundraising now that the legislative session is over. He said Republicans have strong incumbents in the Des Moines metro that will help them hang on to swing seats.

“We’re also eager to continue to expand our map by flipping long-held Democratic strongholds across the state and making them solid Republican seats just as we’ve done in Newton and Fort Dodge, for example,” he said.

House Democratic leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights said in a statement that the party’s strong fundraising shows that they will expand their numbers in the chamber in November.

“Iowans are tired of politics. They are ready for more balance in the Iowa Legislature and Iowa House Democrats’ strong fundraising numbers from people all over the state prove it,” Konfrst said.

Tyler Redenbaugh, the executive director of the Senate Democrats’ Iowa Senate Majority Fund, said Senate Democratic candidates are “more motivated than ever to share their vision with voters this summer and win in November” based on early fundraising numbers.

Senate Republicans spokesperson Caleb Hunter said the caucus’ fundraising for the period showed Iowans’ support for their decisions.

“Despite currently holding 34 seats in the chamber, multiple pickup opportunities exist across the state, and Senate Republicans are well-positioned to maintain a supermajority in the Iowa Senate in 2024,” Hunter said.

Polls will be open for the June 4 primary from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and early voting has already begun. Primary elections will be held for seats in Congress, the Legislature and local offices.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most expensive primaries in the state House and Senate, based on spending by candidates between Jan. 1 and May 14.

Senate District 30

Incumbent Republican Sen. Waylon Brown, of Osage, is facing a primary challenge from Republican Doug Campbell of Mason City in this district that covers Cerro Gordo, Worth and Mitchell counties, and part of Floyd County. The winner will face Democrat Richard Lorence.

Here’s how the fundraising and spending breaks down in the primary race:

Waylon Brown:

Cash on hand before period: $147,848

Raised: $44,197

Spent: $55,613

Cash on hand: $136,432

Doug Campbell:

Cash on hand before period: $0

Raised: $17,861

Spent: $11,746

Cash on hand: $6,114

Campbell is focusing his campaign heavily on opposition to carbon capture pipelines, which would sequester the CO2 emitted by ethanol plants to take advantage of federal tax credits and low-carbon markets.

Summit Carbon Solutions is seeking a permit to build a pipeline that will cross all four counties in the Senate district, and opponents of the pipeline have accused Brown of opposing efforts to stop its construction.

“(Brown) wants to put an unconstitutional pipeline through the state of Iowa that has no use at all,” Campbell said in a recent campaign video. “Your money, tax dollars, for a private company, private gain.”

Campbell’s campaign expenses include consulting, sign printing and text message advertising.

Brown had nearly $150,000 in the bank at the end of last year, and raised another $44,000 during the first four-and-a-half months of this year.

Brown’s expenditures include TV and digital advertising, text message advertising and mail campaigns.

In television ads, Brown flexes his conservative record. He points to votes for bills that allow Iowa law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants, impose tax cuts and restrict foreign owners of farmland.

“When it comes down to it, it takes a conservative to get the job done,” he says in an ad titled “Conservative Results.”

Senate District 38

There is a three-person Republican primary to challenge incumbent Democrat Eric Giddens of Cedar Falls. The district covers parts of Black Hawk, Tama and Benton counties. Here’s how fundraising and spending breaks down in the primary:

David Sires:

Cash on hand before period: $0

Raised: $38,049

Spent: $22,547

Cash on hand: $15,501

James McCullagh:

Cash on hand before period: $422

Raised: $27,555

Spent: $18,000

Cash on hand: $9,977

Steve Schmitt:

Cash on hand before period: $0

Raised: $6,805

Spent: $2,961

Cash on hand: $3,844

Sires, 63, a former Cedar Falls City Council member, leads the race in both fundraising and spending. He told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier in January he wanted to run for Senate to represent Republican values like gun rights, property rights and preventing foreign entities from owning farmland.

“When they (the government) take one link out of your chain, your chain gets shorter and shorter, and you don’t notice,” he said at the time. “These freedoms are slipping away from us, and I’m the guy who’s not going to tolerate that.”

McCullagh, an engineer and entrepreneur, is running a largely self-funded campaign. McCullagh donated $27,002 to his campaign and received $53.13 in individual contributions.

Schmitt, a former Waterloo City Council member, told the Courier in March he wanted to run to focus on the budget and lowering taxes.

Senate District 26

Political newcomers Kara Warme and Gannon Hendrick, both Republicans, are facing off in a primary to represent Senate District 26, which includes Marshall County and part of Story County.

Sen. Jeff Edler, who currently represents the district, is retiring and will not seek re-election. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Mike Wolfe. Here’s how the fundraising in this district breaks down:

Kara Warme:

Raised: $51,133

Spent: $34,248

Cash on hand: $16,884

Gannon Hendrick:

Raised: $24,902

Spent: $6,092

Cash on hand: $18,809

Warme’s top expenses include buying ads on Facebook, TV, and mail campaigns. Hendrick’s expenses included signs and campaign mailers.

House District 34

Democratic Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad announced his retirement this year after nearly two decades in office, opening up his seat in the heavily Democratic House District 34 in Des Moines.

Four Democrats have jumped into the primary, making this seat the most expensive House primary campaign this year. The winner will face Republican Danielle Duggan. Here is how the fundraising breaks down:

Samy El-Baroudi:

Raised: $15,595

Spent: $14,733

Cash on hand: $861

John Campbell:

Raised: $19,883

Spent: $12,641

Cash on hand: $7,241

Rob Johnson:

Raised: $16,045

Spent: $9,693

Cash on hand: $6,351

Dudley Muhammad:

Raised: $2,817

Spent: $2663

Cash on hand: $154

Johnson has notched the endorsement of Abdul-Samad and other prominent Des Moines Democrats, including state Auditor Rob Sand, as well as seven state representatives. He is a faith leader and community activist.

El-Baroudi, a teacher and education advocate, says on his campaign website he wants to prioritize education funding and make the district a “beacon of social justice and inclusion.”

House District 60

Incumbent Republican Rep. Jane Bloomingdale, of Northwood, is facing a primary challenge from Republican John Rosenfeld in this district that covers Worth, Mitchell and parts of Cerro Gordo and Floyd counties. Here’s how the fundraising and spending breaks down:

Jane Bloomingdale:

Cash on hand before period: $101,442

Raised: $40,115

Spent: $21,728

Cash on hand: $119,830

John Rosenfeld:

Cash on hand before period: $0

Raised: $12,370

Spent: $12,132

Cash on hand: $238

Bloomingdale’s main expense during the period was more than $15,000 for materials and postage for a mail campaign. She has highlighted endorsements from the Iowa Farm Bureau and National Rifle Association on her social media pages.

Rosenfeld, of Clear Lake, said in a March news release announcing his campaign that he would advocate for property rights, anti-abortion stances, and gun rights. He gave $5,000 to his campaign, and received more than $7,000 in donations. The Family Leader, a conservative Christian political group, has endorsed Rosenfeld.

House District 51

Two Republicans are facing off in a primary to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Dave Deyoe in this district that covers rural Story County. Nevada Mayor Brett Barker and former Story County Supervisor Martin Chitty are running to take on Democrat Ryan Condon in the general election. Here’s how the fundraising breaks down:

Brett Barker:

Cash on hand before period: $6,228

Raised: $21,042

Spent: $15,438

Cash on hand: $11,833

Martin Chitty:

Cash on hand before period: $0

Raised: $14,389

Spent: $7,733

Cash on hand: $6,655

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