Democratic Governors Association raised big money in 2009

Democratic incumbent governors are facing some tough races in 2010, but fortunately the Democratic Governors Association will be in a position to help in key states:


The Democratic Governors Association raised $23.1 million in 2009, more than ever before in the organization's history, and will start the 2010 election cycle with nearly 12 times as much cash on hand as 2006, the last equivalent election cycle, Chairman Gov. Jack Markell announced today. [...]


The DGA's 2009 fundraising marks the second year in a row and the first off-year in which the DGA raised more than $20 million. Fourth quarter fundraising was by far the strongest, with more than $7 million in contributions received during the period. December contributions alone totaled nearly $4 million. 

The record-breaking fundraising means that the DGA begins 2010, the most critical gubernatorial cycle in a generation, with $17.5 million on hand. In the equivalent election cycle in 2006, the DGA carried over $1.5 million and spent less than $14 million on races that year.

The Republican Governors Association has historically outraised the DGA by wide margins. In spite of the fundraising gap, since 2007, the DGA has won twice as many targeted governors races as the RGA. The DGA's strong cash-on-hand position means that it will be able to spend at a competitive level with the RGA in this critical cycle.


Losing the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia was painful enough, and I am glad to know that those campaigns didn't deplete the DGA's cash reserves.

Here in Iowa, Governor Chet Culver may need the DGA's help to keep pace with Republian expenditures. Culver held lots of fundraisers during the fall, but he also spent money running a couple of television commercials statewide. The leading Republican challenger, Terry Branstad, probably pulled in big numbers during the fourth quarter, although he will have to spend a lot of cash before the Republican primary in June. The other strong Republican candidate, Bob Vander Plaats, has a lot of support from conservative activists and should have the resources to run a solid campaign.

Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 240

Welcome to 2010. Hope everyone had a good break.

In 2010 we still have a long way to go with our economic recovery. And, as I have been saying for more than 5 years, the best way to revitalize our economy is through conversion to a green economy. Focusing on energy solutions like solar, wind, small hydroelectric, methane capture, biodiesel, etc. we create American jobs, produce energy more locally (hence improving the efficiency of energy delivery) and reduce our dependence on nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The United States has dragged its feet on this. As individuals we have generally been reluctant to make the personal decisions necessary to create a sound market for clean energy. And our local, state and Federal governments have been painfully slow to put in the incentives and regulations that would encourage such a shift. In 2010 we have to turn the tide both as individuals and at the level of government. This is critical both for job creation and for addressing global warming.

There's more...

IA-Gov: Branstad robocalling Democrats

An alert Bleeding Heartland reader got a recorded phone call around dinnertime Monday, featuring former Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

Apparently there were a couple of questions about how Governor Chet Culver is doing and his handling of spending and the budget. Branstad's recorded voice touted his own record on economic policy.

The call also asked if the listener would support a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between one man and one woman, and if the listener would vote for Branstad in the upcoming Republican primary.

According to my e-mail tipster, the call said it was paid for by the Branstad for Governor comittee, and gave a phone number as well as the address for Branstad's campaign website.

This particular household has two registered Democrats and no registered Republicans, and the homeowner has had the same phone number for more than 15 years. So I figured either the calling firm was using a bad list, or Branstad's campaign is reaching out to find Democrats who aren't happy with Culver.

Since I posted about this robocall at Bleeding Heartland, a bunch of other Iowa Democrats in households with no Republicans have reported receiving the same call, including State Representative Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids. It seems clear that the target universe for this call was active Democratic voters.

If Branstad's campaign is trying to identify Democrats willing to cross over to vote for him in the Republican primary, it makes me wonder what his internal polling says about the GOP race. I've been assuming that Bob Vander Plaats has virtually no chance of overcoming Branstad's financial and institutional advantages during the primary, but if Marco Rubio can catch up to Charlie Crist in Florida, maybe Vander Plaats can win by running to Branstad's right.

Several polls have shown Branstad leading Culver by a substantial margin, although the latest Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register undercut Branstad's electability argument somewhat by showing Vander Plaats leading Culver as well. Perhaps Republican voters will come to believe they can beat Culver with the man favored by social conservative activists as opposed to Branstad, who was drafted by elite Republican donors.

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Previewing next year's campaign messages on health care

Assuming the House and the Senate pass whatever health insurance bill comes out of the conference committee, Republicans and Democrats are likely to highlight the reform during next year's campaigns. Recent polls have shown that most Americans don't expect action by this Congress to improve the quality of their own health care or reduce its cost. Complicating matters for Democrats, key provisions of the bill won't take effect until 2013 or 2014, giving Republicans plenty of time to exploit fears about the so-called "government takeover" of health care.

After the jump, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Senator Chuck Grassley preview messages we'll hear from GOP candidates across the country, while Senator Tom Harkin summarizes some "immediate benefits" of the health insurance reform.

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IA-Gov: Another prominent conservative backs Vander Plaats

Former Governor Terry Branstad plans to officially declare his candidacy next month. Since he started campaigning for governor in October, I've been hoping that Bob Vander Plaats could capture the attention of national right-wingers looking to "take back" the GOP from establishment types. Democratic incumbent Chet Culver would be much better off facing Vander Plaats in the general election.

Vander Plaats is campaigning as a more reliable conservative than Branstad. Among other things, he promises to bypass Iowa's constitutional amendment process, issuing an executive order on day one of his administration to halt same-sex marriage in Iowa until the public has had a chance to vote on the issue.

Self-styled constitutional expert David Barton is one of the few "scholars" who believes a governor can overturn a state Supreme Court ruling by executive order. Late last week he endorsed Vander Plaats:

"Bob Vander Plaats epitomizes the leadership our Founding Fathers envisioned when they stood up for our individual liberties," Barton said in a prepared statement. "He knows that it's the hard work and unfettered creative spirit of individuals made this country and states like Iowa great. He knows that more bureaucracies, more government employees, higher taxes and increased government spending will crush Iowa. And, he'll articulate that message in winning fashion."

Barton founded the socially conservative WallBuilders organization, based in Dallas. Here's some background on his vision for America, chock full of Biblical interpretations supporting right-wing public policies. Barton gave the keynote address at the Iowa Christian Alliance fundraiser this fall (click that link to watch videos). His organization hosts a large annual "ProFamily Legislators Conference."

Barton's endorsement may help Vander Plaats raise money from around the country as well as recruit volunteers in Iowa. Vander Plaats will particularly need financial support from out of state in order to compete with Branstad, who built relationships with many major donors and local activists during his four terms as governor.

Vander Plaats already has the backing of former presidential candidate and current Fox TV host Mike Huckabee as well as pop culture icon Chuck Norris. Vander Plaats also was featured on the cover of Focus on the Family's national magazine in November.

Could Vander Plaats become the darling of wingnuts nationwide? Branstad is not a social moderate, but he has flip-flopped on some tax and budget-related issues in a way that won't impress the teabagger set. In addition, Branstad's close adviser and confidant Doug Gross is widely disliked by social conservatives in Iowa.

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