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Campaign cash is lopsided as congressional candidates self-fund in Colorado’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate

Ron Hanks’ anemic fundraising contrasts with big money for Joe O’Dea, as a super PAC funded by Colorado contractors spends to support him in U.S. Senate contest

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Joe O’Dea, left, and Ron Hanks. (Colorado Sun photos)
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The Republican U.S. Senate primary in Colorado is a David vs. Goliath battle in terms of campaign cash.

First-time candidate Joe O’Dea had about 38 times more cash on hand to begin April than his opponent, state Rep. Ron Hanks. The two are vying to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, but must first survive a June 28 primary.

Both Hanks and O’Dea, who owns a construction company, have donated their own money to their campaigns, a trend across Colorado’s 2022 congressional contests, according to quarterly campaign finance disclosures filed Friday.

Of the 42 candidates contending for Colorado’s eight U.S. House seats and the U.S. Senate, 29 put a combined nearly $4.6 million of their own cash into their campaigns. Of those, 10 candidates who spent nearly $1.2 million aren’t on the primary ballot, though a couple are contesting rejected petition signatures.

Here’s a look at fundraising and spending in the big contests. Scroll to the end for a look at summary numbers for candidates in all the races.

U.S. Senate features big money vs. not much

Hanks was the only one of six candidates to make the June 28 primary ballot at the Republican state assembly earlier this month, appealing to delegates convinced that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Hanks is a 2020 election denier.

But his fundraising continues to be anemic. Hanks raised less than $12,000 from donors in the first three months of the year and put another $18,000 of his own money into his campaign. Hanks has donated a total of about $30,000 to his campaign, which represents two-thirds of his overall fundraising since getting in the race. He had $16,000 in the bank at the end of the quarter.

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Meanwhile, O’Dea put another $107,000 into his campaign last quarter, bringing his investment in his campaign to more than $632,000, about 47% of his campaign’s fundraising total. He raised nearly $303,000 from other donors in the first three months of the year.

O’Dea’s $609,000 cash on hand at the beginning of April represents only 10% of the money Bennet has in the bank. 

Bennet raised nearly $2.5 million from January through the end of March, which his campaign said was a record for the first quarter of an election year in Colorado. The campaign spent about $1.1 million and had close to $6.2 million in the bank to start April.

But O’Dea appears to have plenty more money to donate to his campaign. His assets are worth between $17.5 million and $77.4 million, according to his personal financial disclosure.

O’Dea was the only Senate candidate to gather petition signatures to get on the ballot. And the Greenwood Village contractor’s wealth versus Hanks’ paltry fundraising isn’t all the Fremont County lawmaker must worry about. 

A super PAC is spending nearly $484,000 on TV and digital advertising supporting O’Dea’s Senate run. American Policy Fund reported the independent spending on Friday, and there’s likely more spending where that came from.

Six individuals and companies in Colorado, all tied to the construction industry, gave the group $700,000 over February and March. 

Transwest Automotive Group, Hutchison Inc. and Bruce Wagner of Wagner Equipment each donated $150,000 to the PAC. APC Resources and its CEO Jeffrey Keller each gave $100,000, while APC president John Keller gave $50,000.

American Policy Fund reported paying Square State Strategy $18,500 and Ascent Media $10,000 for “political strategy consulting.” Square State is owned by former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty, a Republican, while former state Sen. Josh Penry, another Republican, is a partner in Ascent. However, Ascent is working on a Texas race for the super PAC.

O’Dea’s campaign separately paid Ascent Media more than $184,000 last quarter, while also paying Blitz Canvassing, another Penry firm, nearly $222,000 for signature gathering. And the campaign paid 76 Group, yet another Penry firm, more than $88,000 last quarter.

Meanwhile, several of the Republican U.S. Senate candidates who failed to make the primary ballot spent significant amounts of their own cash, though none so much as Fort Collins developer Gino Campana, who finished fourth in the assembly voting.

Campana, who also is a former Fort Collins city councilman, spent nearly $542,000 of his own cash on his campaign, amounting to 50% of his total fundraising. It’s possible that he spent even more, which future filings will reveal. Candidates must file their next disclosures on June 16.

Among payments to a range of consultants, the campaign paid $45,000 to KAConsulting, a firm owned by former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. She attended a reception hosted by Campana the night before the assembly and served as an adviser to Campana’s campaign.

Businessman Peter Yu loaned his campaign $50,000 while raising $159,000 from others. Colorado Christian University professor Greg Moore put $5,500 of his own money into his campaign and raised about $8,200 from others.

8th Congressional District Republicans also invest in their campaigns

Some Republican candidates in the competitive 8th Congressional District are also pouring their own cash into their campaigns. 

Tyler Allcorn, a former Green Beret, gave his campaign nearly $162,000 while raising $139,000 from others. He is one of three GOP candidates who made the June 28 primary ballot by petitioning on, spending about $45,000 to gather signatures. His campaign had $208,000 in cash to start April.

Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann put another $20,000 into her campaign in the first three months of the year, bringing her total investment to $45,000. She raised $216,000 from others and finished the quarter with $309,000 in cash.

State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, of Brighton, raised more than $124,000 in the first three months of the year, and had $174,000 in cash. She’s put about $2,100 of her own cash into the contest.

Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, the only candidate to get on the GOP primary ballot through the 8th District assembly, put another $50,000 into her campaign, bringing her total self-investment to $80,000. She raised only about $30,000 from others and finished the quarter with $141,000 in cash.

Jewels Gray, who failed to make the ballot after trying to go through the assembly and to petition on, loaned her campaign $20,000 last quarter, raising less than $35,000 from others.

One of the four Republicans on the June 28 primary ballot will face Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Thornton pediatrician, in November. She is effectively the Democratic nominee in the district since she is the only candidate to make the primary ballot.

Caraveo raised $298,000 last quarter and finished the first three months of the year with nearly $327,000 in the bank, more than any of the GOP candidates.

Boebert continues strong fundraising in 3rd Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Garfield County Republican, maintained her strong fundraising with a nearly $839,000 haul last quarter. She spent a lot of money, too, dropping $706,000 in the first three months of the year. She had $2.2 million in the bank at the end of the quarter. 

Her campaign spent $471,000 on media production and advertising through Grand Junction firm Rock Chalk Media. She also paid MadPax Strategies $34,000 for fundraising consulting. That firm is owned by Shana Banberger, a former executive director of the Colorado GOP. Boebert and her joint fundraising committee paid MadPax nearly $132,000 in 2021.

Banberger continues to consult for the Colorado GOP, where she was paid more than $102,000 from January 2021 through the end of March, records show. The party also paid MadPax $20,000 for consulting in March 2021.

Boebert has a campaign cash war chest that dwarfs her primary opponent. State Sen. Don Coram, of Montrose, raised $89,000 last quarter and had about $55,000 in cash at the end of March after petitioning onto the ballot.

On the Democratic side, two of the three candidates on the June 28 primary ballot are pouring their own cash into the contest.

Former Aspen City Council member Adam Frisch put more than $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign while raising about $231,000 from others last quarter. He spent about $79,000 and had about $1.7 million in cash at the end of the quarter.

“Given Boebert’s national fundraising ability, we know only a very well-financed opponent can defeat her,” said Alvina Vasquez, a spokeswoman for Frisch.

And Alex Walker, an Avon engineer making his first foray into politics, spent $105,000 producing a viral video to kick off his campaign. He then raised $129,000 and spent $60,000 last quarter. He had about $69,000 in the bank at the end of March.

Pueblo activist Sol Sandoval, the only candidate to make the ballot at the 3rd District Democratic assembly, raised more than $264,000 in the first three months of the year, while spending nearly $229,000 and ending with $93,000 in cash. Sandoval hasn’t put any of her own cash into the campaign.

Lawyer Colin Wilhelm of Glenwood Springs loaned $294,000 to his campaign but failed to make the ballot at the assembly. And entrepreneur Scott Yates, who moved to Pueblo from Denver to get in the race, withdrew from the contest after loaning his campaign $68,000.

Other congressional contests

Democratic state Sen. Brittany Petterson raised nearly $566,000 in the first three months of the year as she seeks to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional District. She had $490,000 in cash at the end of the quarter and has no primary opponent.

At least three candidates will face off for the Republican nomination in the 7th District.

Economist Tim Reichert loaned his campaign $500,000 and raised another $339,000, ending the quarter with $712,000 in the bank. He successfully petitioned onto the primary ballot.

Former U.S. Senate candidate Erik Aadland put another $32,000 into his campaign, bringing his self-giving total to nearly $152,000. His effort to make the ballot via petition failed, but he succeeded at the 7th District GOP assembly. He is also paying MadPax for fundraising consulting.

Golden resident Laurel Imer also made the ballot at the assembly. She raised about $26,000 and had $12,000 in the bank.

Two other GOP candidates turned in petition signatures to make the June 28 Republican primary ballot in the 7th District, but the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office found they didn’t meet the 1,500-signature threshold. The candidates, Carl Anderson and Brad Dempsey, may appeal.

Anderson, a Teller County contractor, loaned his campaign $75,000 last quarter, raising only about $5,100 from others. He spent most of that money, including more than $67,000 on petition signatures.

Dempsey, a lawyer, put $52,000 into his campaign while raising nearly $136,000 from others. He finished the quarter with $143,000 after spending $30,000 on petition signatures.

And in the 5th Congressional District in Colorado Springs, state Rep. Dave Williams loaned his campaign $100,000, while raising another $74,000 last quarter. 

Williams and two other Republicans are challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the June 28 primary, while two Democrats vie for the nomination.

Here’s a look at summary numbers for all the campaigns:


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