Heidi Ganahl’s gubernatorial campaign can now spend without limit after the Republican last week backed out of her pledge to cap her campaign spending but accept more money from individual donors.
As the Colorado Sun reported earlier, the spending-limit pledge is rarely used, and candidates often agree to it only in error. But Ganahl and Pam Anderson, a GOP candidate for secretary of state, both agreed to the limits at the start of their campaigns — on purpose.
By agreeing to a $3.4 million limit spending, Ganahl was able to accept individual campaign donations that were double the traditional $1,250 limit.
There’s an out, however, and Ganahl decided to use it Monday. When another candidate files to enter a contest but doesn’t accept the voluntary spending limits, those who are already in the race and have accepted the limits have the option of backing out of their pledge.
So when Republican Bradley Wynn, of Denver, filed to enter the gubernatorial contest on Jan. 19 and didn’t accept the limits, the Secretary of State’s Office sent Ganahl’s campaign a letter giving her the chance to reverse her pledge.
Ganahl backed out of her pledge in a letter filed Monday with state elections officials. “We were trying to do things differently, to put out a challenge to Jared Polis” to limit spending in the race, said Ganahl spokeswoman Lexi Swearingen. “We were hoping he wouldn’t make this about another $23 million investment.”
But then Wynn terminated his campaign on Jan. 28, just short of the 10-day window he had to file his personal financial disclosure with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Wynn, who owns a business in Breckenridge, told The Sun that he entered the contest before realizing how much it would cost to run for governor. He said he didn’t know Ganahl.
Ganahl is far and away the top fundraiser among Republican gubernatorial candidates this year, bringing in $658,000 since announcing her quest to challenge multimillionaire Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.
Ganahl gave $250,000 of her own money to her campaign, which launched in September, while Polis contributed $738,000 of the $964,000 he’s raised thus far. Polis spent more than $23 million to win his first term in 2018.
More than 100 people have contributed to Ganahl’s campaign in amounts above the standard limit of $1,250, allowing her to raise about $138,000 more, or about 21% of the total she’s raised so far. State law doesn’t require candidates to return amounts taken over the traditional limit if they reverse their spending limit pledge.
Anderson, the Republican running for secretary of state, has not taken back her spending-limit pledge even though she had the option to do so after another candidate entered the race on Dec. 23.