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U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, at an event in Aurora on July 12, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Cory Gardner continues to amass a huge financial advantage in the Colorado’s U.S. Senate race as the Democratic candidates compete for a chance to challenge him.

The Republican incumbent seeking a second term raised $2.45 million from July through September, his best fundraising quarter of the year, the campaign told The Colorado Sun. 

He spent about $690,000 in the third quarter and will report nearly $6.7 million in his coffers to start the month. His full report is due next week.

“Sen. Gardner’s strongest fundraising quarter yet proves Gardner’s grassroots support continues to grow, and Coloradans want to re-elect Cory Gardner because he delivers bipartisan results for this state,” campaign manager Casey Contres said in a statement. “While the slew of far-left candidates vying to challenge him struggle to gain traction, Sen. Gardner will continue to make sure this campaign has the necessary resources to communicate his record of accomplishments to the voters and win in 2020.”

MORE: John Hickenlooper posts top Colorado fundraising marks in his first six weeks as U.S. Senate candidate

Gardner’s financial advantage puts him in a different league than the 10 Democratic candidates battling in the party primary. For the previous two quarters, Gardner raised about $2 million, which exceeded his Democratic challengers, and will help cover the costs for television commercials and an organization to turn out votes.

The only challenger posting similar totals is John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor who entered the race Aug. 22 and raised $2.1 million in less than six weeks, according to his campaign. 

The Democrat’s fundraising haul puts him above primary rival Andrew Romanoff, who raised $1 million in his first five months. Romanoff’s campaign has not yet announced its fundraising totals for the most recent period.

The Democrats will spend the next seven months jostling for attention — and spending money — as they collect signatures to qualify for the June primary or compete in the April 18 caucus to earn a place on the ballot.

Hickenlooper is the favorite among national Democrats to challenge Gardner in the 2020 election. But the two-term governor’s campaign announcement also helped boost small-dollar online donations to Gardner’s campaign, a spokesman for the senator’s campaign said.

MORE: We followed the money to see how Cory Gardner is raising big cash for his reelection campaign

Gardner — who is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the Senate — has aligned himself with President Donald Trump and avoided a once-expected challenge from within the party. He is using his connections as the former head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee to raise big money from donors across the country — both for his campaign and a series of joint fundraising committees.

But it comes at a potential political cost. The impeachment inquiry is continuing to raise questions about the Trump administration’s interactions with Ukraine, and Gardner remains at the president’s side. 

Last weekend, the Colorado senator attended a three-day retreat in New York for donors to the Republican National Committee and the president’s campaign, drawing criticism from Democrats. And in August, former U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley came to Colorado to raise money for Gardner.

John Frank is a former Colorado Sun staff writer. He left the publication in January 2021.