DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- A recent Supreme Court decision has been forcing some candidates to step up their game.
The US Supreme Court ruled in January corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. That decision could mean additional campaign dollars for some candidates, while others are looking to make an impact even if the funding doesn't change.
Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic incumbent for the U.S. House of Representatives in District 1, is running in a hotly-contested race against Republican Ben Lange.
Braley said at a meeting at the United Auto Workers Local 94 in Dubuque that the new rules have created a silent opponent.
"A lot of anonymous donors are paying money to try to influence the outcome of this election, and they're doing it without having to identify who they are or how much money they're contributing," Braley said. "That's why my race has received such national attention: because it's unprecedented. Nobody in the country has had as much money spent against them by an outside group as I have."
Braley said this campaign season looks very different from his incumbent race for the same position in 2008.
"What it means is I have to work very hard to get out and connect with the people I represent and give them a reason to vote for me," Braley said.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks campaign financing, the most recent reports from June show Braley's campaign committee had raised nearly as much money as it had over the entire course of his 2008 campaign, at just more than $1 million. The same website reports his opponent Republican Lange had raised $168,000. There were no records for two additional candidates in the same race, Libertarian Rob Petsche and Independent Jason Faulkner. The next campaign financing report deadline is mid-October.
Braley's race looks very different from that of State Rep. Chuck Isenhart, the Democratic incumbent for the 27th House District, and his opponent Republican Hank Linden.
Whereas Braley and his opponents are in the midst of a battle involving many types of campaigning that cover a large geographic area, Isenhart said things like television advertising may not be financially feasible for him and others on a more local level.
"It can get kind of expensive when you realize that most of the viewers aren't in your district," Isenhart said.
He said he looks for ways to specifically target the people he needs to win over, such as through door-knocking.
"You get a chance to meet your constituents. You get to answer their questions," Isenhart said. "Other times, what they get through their other sources is not always accurate or complete."
"You see them all on TV, but it's a lot better off when you can actually shake their hand and meet them up close," Dubuque resident Alan Bergman said when Isenhart stopped by his house on Tuesday.
Isenhart's opponent agrees, and plans his own door-to-door campaign.
"I'll be covering my own district as far as door-to-door," Linden said. "Basically, to find out what they want and what they feel is not working."
Depending on how you look at it, door-to-door may be a necessity or a luxury for local politicians, but Braley said he has always made time to visit with constituents and not just during this election cycle, when more money is stacked against him.
In a previous interview with KWWL, Republican Ben Lange had the following to say about his opponent.
"I've never held office before and never run for office before," Lange said. "I think the response to that has been overwhelming. Now, I know Congressman Braley's going to have a check from every trial attorney and labor union across the country...and my support is coming here from Iowans."
Online Reporter: Becca Habegger