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Redistricting moves will have financial impact

Gazette, The (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA) - Monday, April 25, 2011
Author: By Ana Radelat, Capitol News Connection
WASHINGTON -- As Rep. Dave Loebsack packs up and moves his personal belongings out of Linn County, he'll leave a key source of political money behind. 

Many of the individuals who have contributed to Loebsack's campaigns over the years live in Linn County. 

Redistricting has cut Linn County out of a reconfigured 2nd District and put it in the new 1st District, represented by Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat. 

Loebsack, also a Democrat, said he plans to move from Mount Vernon to Johnson County -- and most probably Iowa City -- to run in the reshaped 2nd District. 

But in Loebsack's latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, which covered the first three months of this year, the addresses of most individual contributors were in Cedar Rapids, his current hometown of Mount Vernon and other places in Linn County. 

That FEC report shows that Loebsack raised about $155,000 from the beginning of the year through March 31. 

Tom Aller, president of Alliant Energy Investments in Cedar Rapids, contributed $500. He said he'd probably continue to give to Loebsack's campaigns, even if the Democrat won't be his representative in Congress after next year's elections. 

"My business has interests across the state," Aller said. 

Dennis Dietrick, owner of Gary's Foods in Mount Vernon, is a friend of Loebsack and also said he's "going to continue to help." 

But the lawmaker is moving to introduce himself to new donors who live in the 10 new counties in the reshaped 2nd District. 

"Dave is looking forward to the challenge of earning the trust of these new voters over the next year and a half," said Brian Fritsch, Loebsack's political director. 

To that end, Fritsch said, Loebsack has scheduled fundraising events with Braley and Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin in Bettendorf on May 14, and with Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell on May 18. 

"Since he doesn't face an internal party challenger, he'll have no problem raising money," said Cary Covington, a University of Iowa political science professor. 

Loebsack has no opponent -- yet. Christie Vilsack, the Democratic wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, had reportedly considered challenging him. But the Vilsacks announced last week they'd be moving to Ames instead, where Christie Vilsack has formed an exploratory committee and will likely challenge Republican Rep. Steve King to represent the 4th District. 

King has not raised much money, just a little more than $50,000 in the first three months of this year. Christie Vilsack is expected to be able to raise a lot of campaign cash through her husband's influence and the support of women who want to send the first Iowa woman to Congress. But Covington said King will be able to keep pace. 

Christie Vilsack "comes in from another part of the state, and that's red meat for Republicans in King's district," Covington said. "They'll give him plenty of money." 

The elimination of one of Iowa's five congressional districts because of the state's slow population growth placed both King and fellow Republican Rep. Tom Latham of Ames, who represents the current 4th District, in the new 4th District. But Latham has announced he will move to the redrawn 3rd District, represented by Boswell. 

Covington predicted the national political parties will help money pour into the campaign coffers of both Latham and Boswell. 

"It's a high-stakes race for both parties," Covington said of the matchup between incumbents. 

Latham holds the fundraising edge right now, having nearly $1 million in his campaign war chest. Boswell's campaign reported $173,815 in cash-on-hand as of March 31. 

Congressional fundraising totals 

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-1st District$170,265 

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-2nd District121,874 

Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-3rd District173,815 

Rep. Tom Latham, R-4th District983,509 

Rep. Steve King, R-5th District142,610 

Source: Federal Election Commission March 31 data