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Two wealthy Colorado Republicans running for U.S. Senate each injected more than $500,000 into their campaigns

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet raised $2.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2021. 8th Congressional District candidates posted similar fundraising numbers.

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Two wealthy Republicans aiming to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in November each injected more than $500,000 dollars into their campaigns in the last three months of last year.

Those loans and personal contributions put Gino Campana, a former Fort Collins city councilman, and Joe O’Dea, a Denver businessman, near or over the $1 million mark for campaign revenue from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Four other Republican candidates vying to take on Bennet significantly lagged behind the two multimillionaires in fundraising.

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State Rep. Ron Hanks, a Fremont County Republican, raised just $28,000 last quarter for his U.S. Senate bid, including $12,000 he loaned to his campaign

Meanwhile, Bennet raised more than $2.1 million during the last quarter and finished the year with a hefty $4.7 million in cash in his campaign account.

Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic candidates running in the highly competitive 8th Congressional District raised modest amounts in the $100,000 range, while 3rd District Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, of Garfield County, continued to handily outraise all of her competitors.

GOP Senate candidates begin by self-funding

O’Dea reported more than $1 million in contributions during his first three months on the campaign trail, $525,000 of which came from his own pocket. Another $57,000 came from people who listed his construction company, Denver-based Concrete Express, as their employer. 

His biggest expense last quarter was the $100,000 he spent on broadcast advertising after announcing his candidacy in October. The campaign spent a total of $153,000 in the last three months of the year.

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O’Dea’s net worth is between $17.5 million and $77.4 million, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of his personal financial disclosure.

Campana brought in $956,000, including $500,000 he loaned to his campaign and another $24,000 he directly donated to his campaign. Many of Campana’s large donors were fellow north Front Range business people, including executives from contractor Hensel Phelps and Otterbox, the cellphone case maker.

Campana reported spending $171,000 last quarter, nearly $39,000 of which went to consultants.

O’Dea still had $888,000 in cash at year-end, and Campana $784,000. But both Republicans owed campaign contractors at the end of the year. O’Dea owed four contractors a total of $127,409, while Compana owed four of his contractors about $21,000 total.

Gino Campana, left, and Joe O’Dea, right. (Handouts)

They weren’t the only Republicans hoping to challenge Bennet who spent their own cash last quarter or reported debts owed to consultants.

Deborah Flora, a conservative radio host and actor, loaned her campaign $50,000, and the $254,000 she raised included another $53,000 she donated directly to her campaign. She reported spending only about $33,000, but she ended the quarter owing several consultants more than $46,000. She began 2022 with $471,000 in cash in her campaign account.

Eli Bremer, an Air Force veteran and former Olympian who was the first Republican candidate to enter the race, reported raising more than $153,000 last quarter, but spent nearly $185,000. He had $178,000 in cash at the end of 2021. He hasn’t spent any of his own money on his campaign thus far.

FILE – In this April 14, 2008, file photo, modern pentathlon athlete Eli Bremer poses for a portrait during the USOC Media Summit in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Peter Yu, a Weld County businessman, raised about $73,000, spent $57,000 and had $157,000 in cash at the end of the year. He’d previously loaned his campaign $50,000.

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The poorest showing among the GOP candidates came from state Hanks. Portrayed as the frontrunner by some Democratic operatives, Hanks loaned his campaign $12,100 and raised only $16,000, about 45% of that from donors of $200 or less. 

Bennet, meanwhile, spent only $884,000 of the $2.1 million he brought in last quarter. Some 22% of Bennet’s campaign contributions came from donors who gave $200 or less, a contrast to his Republican counterparts. 

Bennet is still owed $375,000 from loans he made in his initial Senate campaign in 2010.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet speaks at a news conference at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office in Boulder on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

8th Congressional District candidates

Three Republican and two Democratic candidates running in the 8th District each raised between $124,000 and $156,000 in the final three months of the year. 

The new 8th District is seen as one of the most competitive U.S. House districts in the nation. It’s centered in the high-growth suburbs north of Denver, which have a heavy Latino population. 

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Here’s a look at the top contenders:

  • Democratic Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco raised nearly $156,000 in his first three months on the campaign trail, but spent about 44% of that. He ended the year with about $88,000 in cash.
  • Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo raised $155,000 and ended the year with $179,000 in her campaign account. About 20% of her donations came from those giving $200 or less. Her donors included physicians, current and former lawmakers, and several lobbyists.
  • Republican Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann raised $155,000, contributing $25,000 of her own cash to her campaign. She spent little last quarter and had $154,000 in the bank at year’s end. She owed a consultant $5,700.
  • Republican Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine raised nearly $133,000 and loaned her campaign $30,000. She had $129,000 in her campaign account at the end of the year.
  • Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer raised about $124,000, including nearly $18,000 from statehouse lobbyists. She had nearly $116,000 in cash at the end of 2021.

3rd Congressional District

For the fourth consecutive quarter, Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert outraised any other U.S. House incumbents or candidates in Colorado, bringing in nearly $808,000 for a total of $3.8 million raised over the course of 2021. The campaign had $2 million in the bank at the end of the year.

Boebert’s campaign spending last quarter included $3,523 at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas in early December, and $1,623 at the Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa in Palm Beach, Fla., in December and early November. 

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert holds an end-of-year press conference at the Home Loan Bank community room in Grand Junction on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. (McKenzie Lange, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat who withdrew from the contest in October after being drawn out of the district, which includes all of western Colorado and stretches east to Pueblo, still had $431,000 in the bank at year’s end. She returned nearly $35,000 in contributions and raised $41,000 before exiting the race.

Pueblo activist Sol Sandovol was in the best financial position of Boebert’s remaining  Democratic challengers, with $208,000 raised in the last quarter. But she had only $56,000 in her campaign account at the end of 2021.

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State Rep. Don Valdez, D-La Jara, raised $55,000 over the last three months of 2021 and had $22,000 in the bank at the end of the year.

Colin Wilhelm, a Glenwood Springs attorney, raised only about $10,000 last quarter while loaning his campaign $100,000, bringing his total loans to nearly $294,000.

State Sen. Don Coram, a Montrose Republican who announced a primary challenge to Boebert last month, won’t report to the FEC until the next filing date on April 15.


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