Thursday, September 28

A gulf of cash divides GOP senate candidates heading into Colorado primary fight, FEC filings show

Heading into the Colorado Republican Assembly last weekend, two GOP U.S. senate candidates were near tied when it came to their war chest.

Both made fortunes in construction and each put it to work in contributions and loans to their own campaigns, recently filed campaign finance records that cover through March 31 show. Each of the candidates’ war chests outweighed the combined total the remaining four Republicans seeking the seat.

But only one of those comparatively well-monied campaigns is still standing — that of Joe O’Dea, a construction company executive who petitioned onto the ballot. The GOP faithful dashed the hopes of Fort Collins developer Gino Campana, the only other Republican candidate to report raising more than $1 million, at the party’s state assembly on April 9.

Instead, assembly delegates backed state Rep. Ron Hanks, a Fremont County Republican and 2020 presidential election denier who also had some of the lowest reported fundraising in the field. The money didn’t matter then, however — with about 39% of the assembly’s vote, Hanks cleared the field to face just O’Dea in the June 28 primary election.

The March 31 campaign finance reports, filed on April 15, are the only glimpse Coloradans have of candidate fundraising and spending before the June 28 primary election. While lots of money can flow between now and that election, those reports show a gulf between Hanks and O’Dea at the start of their post-assembly contest — and that whoever emerges there will face an incumbent with millions to spend and no primary election.

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O’Dea reported $1.45 million raised through March 31, including $632,000 of his own money, and nearly $610,000 in cash on hand. Hanks reported raising nearly $58,000, $30,000 of which came from his pockets. He had $16,000 in cash to close the month.

Michael Bennet, who has been in the U.S. Senate since 2009 and is aiming for his third full term, reported more than $6 million in cash on hand while he waits to see which Republican will win the party’s nomination.

Incumbent Congress members hold strong cash advantage

All of Colorado’s current members of Congress — Democrats Diane DeGette, Joe Neguse and Jason Crow, and Republicans Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn — entered the spring with large cash advantages over their challengers.

Boebert, a prodigious fundraiser who represents the 3rd Congressional District, reported nearly $2.2 million in cash on hand at the end of the first filing period. State Sen. Don Coram, who is challenging Boebert for the Republican nomination for the seat, reported about $55,000 on hand. He petitioned onto the ballot.

The Democrats vying for the 3rd Congressional District nomination similarly start the spring with unequal finances: Adam Frisch reported $1.67 million in cash on hand at the end of March, most of which from a $1.5 million loan he made to his campaign. He petitioned onto the primary ballot, as did Alex Walker.

Walker reported about $69,000 in cash on hand to close out the fundraising quarter. Sol Sandoval, who won a spot on the primary ballot through the Democrat’s caucus process, reported about $93,000 in cash on hand.

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Other than Frisch, only state Sen. Kerry Donovan cracked the $1 million mark in total fundraising, with nearly $1.95 million total raised. However, the congressional redistricting drew her home outside the district and she withdrew her candidacy. She still had $403,000 in the bank from the campaign, however.

Among the remaining Republican incumbents, Buck reported $625,000 in the bank to Democrat Isaac McCorkle’s nearly $171,000 in the race for the 4th Congressional District. In the 5th Congressional District, Doug Lamborn reported $435,000 in cash on hand. Republican challengers Rebecca Keltie and Andrew Heaton each reported less than $4,000 in cash on hand.

Republicans Bob Lewis and state Rep. Dave Williams will appear on the primary ballot for the 4th and 5th Congressional Districts, respectively, after qualifying through the district assemblies. Neither had campaign finance reports filed with the FEC.

In the 5th, Democratic candidates Michael Columbe and David Torres reported ending the quarter with about $16,800 and $3,800 in the bank, respectively.

Democratic incumbents likewise face early advantages. DeGette had $530,000 in the bank to Democratic challenger Neal Walia’s $37,000 for 1st Congressional District seat; Neguse, who has no major party challengers filed with the FEC, had $1.6 million to defend his 2nd Congressional District seat; and Crow had $1.9 million on hand to defend the 6th Congressional District. None of his registered challengers reported raising more than $10,000.

In contests for Colorado’s two open seats, filings show much closer fundraising

In the race for Colorado’s open 7th Congressional District seat, another candidate stands out for self-funding. Republican Tim Reichert reported having more than $711,000 in cash on hand at the end of the quarter, bolstered by a $500,000 loan he made to his campaign.

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