Libertarian Rick Stewart asks Democratic donors for money, saying he can take votes from Kim Reynolds

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Libertarian Rick Stewart says the "only hope" for Democrats to beat Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in the fall involves him playing spoiler.

And, in an unconventional move, he's seeking donations from Democrats by pitching his ability to win over votes from disgruntled Republicans on Election Day.

But Democrat Deidre DeJear and other Iowa Democrats pushed back on Thursday, saying that Democrats — and their dollars — should directly support her campaign.

Meanwhile, a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll from July suggests that Stewart was, at that point in the race, actually gaining more support from Democrats than Republicans.

Stewart said he sent letters to Democratic donors earlier this month seeking donations. One copy of the letter, dated Aug. 6 and addressed to "Democratic Friends," says that by donating to his campaign, Democrats could help get his message in front of more Republicans who are unlikely to vote a Democrat but could vote for him.

"You can send me a check in the enclosed envelope. You can donate at Heck, you can come to my house, knock on my door, and put bundles of hundies right in my hands," he wrote.

A postscript in the letter says "frankly — I'm your only hope."

"Think outside the box. Think of a 3-way race where 125,000 Iowa voters choose me over Kim Reynolds, and Deidre wins," he wrote.

DeJear shared a copy of the fundraising letter on Twitter Thursday with a message asking supporters not to heed Stewart's plea for more campaign cash.

"FYI — If you want to help me beat Kim Reynolds, securing a governor who will put public dollars in public schools, defend a woman's right to choose and listen to what Iowans want, donate directly to my campaign," her tweet said, along with a link to donate to her campaign.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Stewart confirmed he sent letters to some Democratic donors. He said he's looking for more money and believes that he's well poised to pick up votes from Republicans who may be looking for alternatives.

"I don't have anything against Kim Reynolds personally, but she's made some major missteps," he said. "And I'm the one that can take advantage of them. Deidre's not going to pick up those votes."

He pointed to DeJear's deficit in recent polling, and her significant fundraising disadvantage in the race. Reynolds had more than $5.2 million in cash on hand after the July 19 campaign finance deadline, more than 10 times the $503,315 that DeJear had in the bank. Meanwhile, Stewart had just $17,000.

The July Iowa Poll showed DeJear's with support from 31% of likely Iowa voters, 17 percentage points below Reynolds, who received 48%. Stewart received 5% of the vote in the poll.

The poll showed Reynolds with a larger lead than she enjoyed in an Iowa Poll conducted earlier in the year. That earlier poll, conducted Feb. 28 to March 2 by Selzer & Co, had not included an option to choose Stewart or “someone else" and showed the two candidates separated by only 8 percentage points: Reynolds received 51% versus DeJear’s 43%.

The July poll showed Stewart pulling more Democratic than Republican votes. Stewart had the support of just 1% of likely Republican voters in the July poll but received support from 5% of Democratic voters.

Stewart told the Register he believes that's because he needs to get his message in front of more Republicans. He said he believes it's also a sign that DeJear's support isn't as strong as it should be among Democrats.

DeJear's campaign did not offer additional comment on the letter. Iowa Democratic Party chair Ross Wilburn called the letter a distraction "from the real issues facing Iowans.

"That’s why I’m going to work tirelessly to ensure that Deidre DeJear is elected this fall,” he said.

Reynolds' campaign also did not comment on the fundraising letter. Republican Party of Iowa communications director Kollin Crompton said in a statement that "DeJear and Stewart are two peas in a pod for a lot of reasons, one of them being they will both lose to Governor Kim Reynolds resoundingly in November."

As of Thursday afternoon, Stewart said he wasn't sure yet whether he had received many donations as a response. He said he has been spending significant time at the Iowa State Fair and fallen behind on emails.

Ian Richardson covers the Iowa Statehouse for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at, at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Libertarian Rick Stewart: Spoiler campaign is only hope for Democrats