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Politics and Government

Jared Polis nears $20M mark in governor’s race self-funding; oil and gas spending on initiatives tops $34M

Also: Democratic candidates continue to outpace their Republican opponents in key state Senate contests

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, is pictured right, walking and talking with businessman Gary Arnold in September. They met after Polis spoke to a local pipefitters union. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)
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Democratic congressman – and multimillionaire – Jared Polis neared the $20 million mark in terms of his own spending to win the Colorado governor’s office.

That’s according to reports filed Monday tallying fundraising and spending from Sept. 13 to Sept. 26.

Polis’ campaign has spent $19.4 million on his bid to become governor so far, with $11.2 million of that spent winning a four-way primary in late June. Polis spent $2.4 million in the final month of the primary alone.

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who is the Republican nominee for governor. (John Frank, The Colorado Sun)

Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton raised just more than $387,000 during the two-week reporting period, with $120,000 of that coming from the Colorado Republican Party. The state party has now put $250,000 into Stapleton’s campaign.

Stapleton’s campaign has spent $2.3 million and has about $872,000 in cash so far.

Stapleton goes on the air with his own television ads Thursday; Polis has been on TV since August.

Other big news from Monday’s filings:

  • The Republican Governors Association has spent $3.3 million on TV advertising. That compares to $2.3 million worth of TV ads from Good Jobs Colorado.
  • Outside groups have spent more than $13 million supporting the Stapleton or Polis candidacies during the primary and general election. Add more than $7 million spent by super PACs on behalf of two Democratic primary candidates, and you top $20 million in outside spending just for the governor’s contest.
  • The national nonprofit Sixteen Thirty Fund continues to invest heavily in Colorado Democratic campaigns via donations to outside groups. It’s given $3.1 million so far this cycle.

Legislative contests

The Colorado House of Representatives, pictured in September. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Democratic candidates continue to outpace their Republican opponents in key Senate contests.

But perhaps more importantly, national groups are pouring cash into independent spending groups that are airing cable TV ads and sending out scads of mailers.

  • The Sixteen Thirty Fund, the national nonprofit, put $1.1 million into Coloradans for Fairness, the super PAC airing ads and sending mailers opposing GOP Senate candidates.
  • The Senate Majority Fund 527 committee raked in $250,025 from energy business The Williams Companies; $200,000 from Dairy Farmers of America Political Action Trust;  and $100,000 from PDC Energy. The fund donated $38,000 to Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, and sent $498,000 to the group’s independent spending arm.
  • Our Colorado Values, supporting Democratic House candidates, received $400,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund; $300,000 from Everytown for Gun Safety; and $200,000 each from the Service Employees International Union and Education Reform Now Advocacy.

Ballot initiatives

The ballot wars are getting heated and expensive.

Here’s a look at the latest developments:

  • Protect Colorado now has raised more than $34 million, all fueled by the energy industry. Much of that is going to a TV, digital and mail campaign opposing Proposition 112, which would require a 2,500 setback for oil and gas development.
  • Now, Protect is buying $3 million worth of TV ads to support Amendment 74, which would require government to compensate property owners if regulations (like those on oil and gas) devalue their land. The ad buys are reported as in-kind contributions to the Committee for Colorado’s Shared Heritage.
  • Save Our Neighborhoods will be fighting back on Amendment 74, with $1 million from the national nonprofit League of Conservation Voters and about $40,000 from Conservation Colorado.
  • Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg donated $500,000 to Fair Maps Colorado, supporting efforts to turn congressional and legislative redistricting over to nonpartisan commissions. (Earlier in the year, Bloomberg spent $2 million supporting former state Sen. Michael Johnston’s Democratic gubernatorial run.) Nonprofit State Engagement Fund also gave $500,000 to Fair Maps, while Walmart heir Ben Walton kicked in $250,000.

Candidate fundraising

Here’s a chart of candidate fundraising in statewide contests and key Senate races:

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