High-flyers, high-rollers and hog barons


HR King
May 29, 2001
Todd Dorman
Oct. 27, 2022 9:00 am

Well, the big picture didn’t change much in the race for governor with the latest campaign finance disclosures turned in last week. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds raised a bunch of cash and Democrat Deidre DeJear trails far behind the incumbent.

Reynolds raised $2.4 million between July and mid-October, tossed onto the $5.2 million pile of dough she already had in the bank. DeJear raised $805,000 on top of the $503,000 she had on hand. Reynolds spent $5 million compared to $942,000 for DeJear.

DeJear did finally receive some large donations from prominent Democrats and allied groups. Des Moines developer Bill Knapp, a longtime large Democratic donor, contributed $30,000 and well-known Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin donated $25,000. The Iowa State Education Association, Iowa’s largest teachers’ union, contributed $25,000, along with some other union backing.


DeJear has been able to run a couple of TV ads recently, including a solid introductory ad. But she needed to make her introduction to Iowans months ago. She still is little known. Reynolds is well known, but despite that, still is the favorite.

Reynolds donated nearly $300,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa for use in other GOP races. So Democrats’ inability to help DeJear become more competitive is the mistake that keeps on giving to their opponents.

Reynolds’ report offered some interesting storylines.

Come fly with me — Reynolds was kept airborne by a string of donors offering flights as in-kind contributions, adding up to $84,238 for 10 flights.

The governor’s sky king is Board of Regents member David Barker of Iowa City, who contributed three flights totaling more than $44,000. That includes an Aug. 5 flight costing $25,337.

Illinois state Rep. Tim Ozinga donated a $17,400 flight on Aug. 23. Ozinga is the co-owner of a ready mix and construction materials business in Mokena, Ill.

Disclosures don’t include destinations for these flights. They should.

Whole hog — Reynolds affinity for all things hog continues to pay off.

Deb Hansen, co-founder of Iowa Select Farms, the nation’s fourth-largest pork producer marketing 5 million hogs annually, donated $50,000 to Reynolds on Aug. 2. Her son Michael Hansen donated $25,000. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation PAC chipped in $50,000.

Gamblers — Earlier this year, Reynolds signed as bill placing a new moratorium on new casino licenses for at least two years. It stopped Cedar Rapids’ latest bid for a casino in its tracks, which was good news for Elite Casino Management, which owns and operates the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. Riverside stands to lose a sizable chunk of its profits of Cedar Rapids opens a gambling parlor up I-380.

On Aug. 20, Elite Casino’s CEO Dan Kehl donated $25,000 to Reynolds. On the same day, his brother, Robert Kehl, a board member for Elite Casino Resorts, also donated $25,000.

Sometimes, you have to pull a slot arm to win big. But sometimes a few strokes of a bill-signing pen can help you hit the jackpot.

So high-flyers, high-rollers and hog barons. The Reynolds coalition will be expecting a big payoff during the next four years.