By Lynn Campbell
DES MOINES, IA. -- Candidates in two Iowa congressional races seen as key in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives have amassed several million dollars for their campaigns.
Topping the list is the race between two longtime incumbents, who are facing off in the new 3rd Congressional District in central and southwest Iowa.
*** Latham again tops Boswell in 3rd District ***
U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ames, has accumulated more than $1.9 million in his campaign war chest, according to reports due Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. That's nearly four times as much as U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines, who had slightly less than $500,000 going into this election year.
Latham's campaign said his fundraising, which included $344,804 in contributions in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with Boswell's $181,807, sets a new record for Iowa congressional fundraising. Latham is the only Iowan on the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee and is a close friend of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
"There is a groundswell of support for Tom Latham. The numbers prove that," said Latham campaign manager Annie Kelly. "We continue to see record fundraising and grassroots support for Tom Latham because Iowans know that he is fighting for them every day to build a future of economic security for every single Iowan — from youth to those in their retirement years. Tom is working to find common sense solutions that bring jobs and economic security back to Iowa main streets, small businesses and farms, and Iowans want that to continue."
Boswell campaign manager Grant Woodard did not respond to requests for comment about the latest numbers. This is the third reporting period that Latham topped Boswell in fundraising, after the two were pitted against one another following the redrawing of political boundaries based on population shifts in the 2010 census.
"Yeah, but we went through the last campaign without any debt, and we've always had a challenge here," Boswell said in April. "Anybody that serves Polk County or the capital city, if you will, Des Moines, you're going to have a challenge regardless (of) what party they are. We've always had a challenge. We knew that when we came here."
*** Vilsack tops King in 4th District ***
Former first lady Christie Vilsack, D-Ames, topped U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in fundraising, both in the fourth quarter of 2011, and in campaign cash heading into 2012.
Vilsack raised $394,194 in the fourth quarter of last year, nearly twice as much as the $206,719 taken in by King.
The former first lady also had $751,530 in her campaign war chest going into this year, compared with King's $529,490. The two are vying to represent the 4th Congressional District in northwest and north central Iowa.
But in anticipated votes, King leads Vilsack, 49 percent to 43 percent, according to a recent poll by the House Majority PAC, a super PAC designed to help win back the U.S. House majority for Democrats. Vilsack leads among independents, 48 percent to 37 percent, with a little over nine months to go before Election Day.
The poll of 974 Iowa registered voters was taken Jan. 18-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Vilsack's campaign said she raised more than $1 million last year, before expenses. She continues to travel across the district announcing policy proposals to double apprenticeships for Iowans, advance economic development and job creation by investing in infrastructure, and advocating for Missouri River flood relief.
"The support Iowans from across the state have shown my campaign is truly humbling," Vilsack said. "Their support is also what motivates me to go to Washington to fight every day to ensure the best policies, not politics, are put in place to ensure future generations can work and raise a family in northwest Iowa."
King was in transit from Iowa to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and did not respond to requests for an interview from IowaPolitics.com.
The outspoken, conservative Iowa congressman has been elected five times to represent western Iowa in what's now the 5th Congressional District.
This year, King is being targeted by CREDO SuperPac, a new progressive entity launched by the CREDO Mobile cell phone company that is targeting what the group calls "the most extreme Tea Party Republicans."
King recently told Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal he expects big money will be funneled into the Iowa 4th Congressional District race in 2012.
"I've been convinced for a long time that there would be millions of dollars of super PACs that would come into this race," King told the Journal. "This will be the most expensive congressional race, and probably the dirtiest one, this state has ever seen. I will learn things about me that I don't yet know, from watching the ads."
*** And in other races ***
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, has a sizable lead in fundraising over his potential opponents in the 1st Congressional District in northeast Iowa.
Braley raised $308,852 between October and December, and had $627,426 left at the end of the year. That compares with the $122,793 raised by Ben Lange, R-Independence, who had $120,312 going into this year; and the $71,233 raised by Rod Blum, R-Dubuque, who had $66,065 at the end of the year.
In the race for the 2nd Congressional District in southeast Iowa, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, raised $158,237 in the fourth quarter, bringing his total to $450,961 at the end of the year.
Loebsack's potential opponent, Richard Gates, R-Keokuk, raised $535 last year and was left with a negative cash balance of $47.
See an IowaPolitics.com summary, links to 4th Qtr campaign finance reports: