SIOUX CITY -- Matt Campbell earned a political victory on Tuesday, but his goal in November is to be more than a footnote in the Steve King for Congress juggernaut that has surged to Iowa 5th congressional district wins since 2002.
Campbell received 75.8 percent of the vote in a Democratic Party primary Tuesday to win over Mike Denklau of Council Bluffs. He and Republican King will be on the November ballot before voters in the sprawling 32-county western Iowa district that has gone strongly for King four times.
King soundly defeated businessman Paul Shomshor of Council Bluffs in 2002, community college administrator Joyce Schulte of Creston in 2004 and 2006 and minister Rob Hubler of Council Bluffs in 2008.
The strong support King has enjoyed in the previous four contests was shown in the primary vote. Campbell and Denklau split just under 10,000 votes in the Democratic primary contest. Even though he was unopposed, King drew 45,947 GOP votes Tuesday.
King's challengers have been hamstrung not only by a voter registration disadvantage but also a campaign finance shortfall, never having as much as $100,000. On Wednesday in reflecting on his win, Campbell told The Journal he wouldn't specify a minimum dollar figure needed to run a campaign.
Campbell said the focal point in the race should not be on fundraising numbers, but how his experience in leading a division of a national accounting and approach to improving the recessionary economy can benefit Iowans in Congress.
"I fully believe as more residents of the district get to know me, the support will be there," Campbell said. "... My focus on job development and revitalization of rural America is something that people want to hear."
Hubler said the advice he'd give Campbell is to work the Democratic Party's base and garner a lot of campaign contributions.
"The obvious answer is that you've just got to raise lots and lots of money. That is difficult in the 5th District against King," Hubler said.
Denklau raised $35,000 for his primary campaign, and after the loss said in a statement he fully supports Campbell in the quest to defeat King.
"I greatly admire the vision of our Democratic nominee and I am confident that he has the knowledge and foresight to lead Iowa's 5th District to its brightest days," Denklau said.
How 5th District Democrats voted
Democratic primary final vote total:
Matt Campbell: 7,110
Mike Denklau: 2,257
Note: The vote total comes from 416 precincts in 32 counties of the 5th congressional district.