Most Republican candidates in Colorado this year are burning through their campaign cash faster than their Democratic rivals, campaign finance reports filed this week show.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, raked in nearly $2.1 million from April 1 through June 8, while his two GOP competitors brought in a fraction of that.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Garfield County Republican, was in second place when it came to money raised from donors at $624,000, which is considerably more than her primary opponent, state Sen. Don Coram, and the three Democrats vying to replace her in the 3rd Congressional District.
Boebert is the lone Republican at the federal or statewide level in Colorado excelling at raising money.
Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who is running to represent Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District, raised more money than all four of her potential Republican opponents combined.
The fate of some of the congressional contests, particularly the 8th District race, could decide the balance of power in Congress come 2023.
Federal candidates were required to file pre-primary reports with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday. State candidates and committees filed reports on Monday, with a final report due the day before the June 28 primary.
Joe O’Dea and Ron Hanks battle for U.S. Senate nod, while Bennet amasses cash
Democratic outside groups are outspending the two Republican candidates — state Rep. Ron Hanks and Denver construction company owner Joe O’Dea — running to challenge Bennet, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 and elected in 2010 and 2016.
The super PAC Democratic Colorado reported spending nearly $2.5 million, mostly on TV ads boosting Hanks’ conservative bonafides. Other TV ads being run by the group note that O’Dea donated to Democratic candidates in the past and supported federal infrastructure spending.
Democratic Colorado won’t have to report its funding source until July 20, nearly a month after the primary.
Reports filed with the FEC Thursday show O’Dea put another $513,000 of his own money into his campaign, bringing his total investment to $1.1 million. The new infusion came as the ads boosting Hanks began. O’Dea raised about $373,000 from others and ended the reporting period with $1 million in the bank.
Hanks had the best fundraising period since announcing his campaign last fall, but still raised only $67,000. He had about $21,000 in cash as of June 8, a paltry amount for a candidate running in a race that will likely end up costing tens of millions of dollars.
Hanks and O’Dea’s numbers pale to the nearly $7 million in cash Bennet had at the end of the reporting period. However, O’Dea’s wealth, between $17.5 million and $77.4 million, means he could continue to self-fund his effort should he win the primary.
Hanks spent money on radio advertising and text messaging, as well as T-shirts and “campaign can insulators,” commonly known as koozies.
Bennet spent heavily on direct mail and digital advertising. He has yet to advertise on TV, however, which is unusual for an incumbent at this stage of the campaign.
8th Congressional District
In the highly competitive 8th District, none of the four Republicans vying for the nomination topped $100,000 in fundraising during the last campaign finance period. Democratic nominee Caraveo topped the fundraising hauls of all four, raking in $286,000. The Thornton pediatrician had nearly $428,000 in the bank on June 8.
State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer led the GOP pack by bringing in nearly $90,000. But she also finished the filing period with the least amount of cash, about $62,000. Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann raised about $78,000 and still had nearly $189,000 in cash.
Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine raised $54,000 and had $113,000 in cash in her campaign account, while former Green Beret and political newcomer Tyler Allcorn raised $44,000 and had $189,000 in cash.
The candidate cash isn’t the only factor in the 8th District, however. Americans for Prosperity Action and Let America Work, two federal super PACs, respectively spent $270,000 and $216,000 supporting Kirkmeyer.
Additionally, two Democratic groups are airing cable TV ads that appear aimed at helping Saine in the primary and hurting Kirkmeyer’s chances.
Allcorn this week joined the other three GOP candidates in the district in advertising on TV. The ads appear to be shortened versions of a YouTube video in which Allcorn emphasizes his Green Beret experience by blowing things up.
Bobert builds big lead in 3rd District, Pettersen leads in 7th District
Boebert has raised $5.3 million since January 2021, when she first took office, and had $2 million in cash in her campaign account on June 8 after spending heavily on mailers and other advertising.
Coram, the Montrose Republican trying to unseat her, raised about $137,000 and had $112,000 in cash after spending on radio and digital advertising.
Three Democrats are vying to challenge Boebert or Coram, with former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch loaning his campaign another $700,000 during the last filing period. That came after he repaid an earlier $1.5 million loan. He had about $628,000 in the bank on June 8.
Alex Walker, a first-time candidate and engineer living in Avon, brought in $121,000 and had about $24,000 left in his campaign account at the end of the filing period. Sol Sandoval, a Pueblo activist, raised more than $106,000 and had about $29,000 left.
Frisch is the only candidate in the 3rd District airing TV ads. He also spent money on mail and digital ads. Walker’s biggest expense was polling, while Sandoval spent on digital consulting and phone calls.
In addition to advertising, Boebert paid Post Hill Press in Tennessee $36,000 for books, and $1,070 to DC Private & Investigative Security in Pueblo for security consulting.
Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen raised $350,000 in her bid to represent the 7th Congressional District and replace retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. She had $649,000 in cash remaining at the end of the filing period.
Three Republicans are vying for the nomination in the 7th District, which spans Jefferson County and mountain counties to the south and west.
Economist Tim Reichert raised $160,000 and had about $410,000 in cash left in his campaign account, spending on direct mail and cable TV. Veteran Erik Aadland raised about $98,000 and had $39,000 in the bank. Laurel Imer of Jefferson County raised $14,000, and had $5,700 in cash left.
GOP continues to lag in state-level contests
While four Democratic statewide incumbents reserve TV ad time in the fall and stockpile their cash, Republicans are raising a fraction of the money their opponents have amassed.
University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, raised nearly $35,000 between May 26 and June 8. Her primary opponent, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, raised about $12,000 over the two weeks and had about $17,000 in the bank.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, a self-funding candidate worth hundreds of millions of dollars, is sitting on nearly $4.8 million in campaign cash. He’s booked nearly $3 million worth of ads for the fall, based on contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission.
Indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters brought in nearly $31,000 for her secretary of state primary and had about $22,000 in the bank on June 8. Her campaign spent $50,000 on internet advertising and $6,500 on radio ads. Her campaign also reimbursed her campaign manager nearly $2,000 for “Mar-A-Lago Travel Expenses” for a trip Peters took to former President Donald Trump’s Florida resort.
Peters’ two opponents raised considerably less but had more cash on hand. Mike O’Donnell, a Yuma County nonprofit executive, raised about $8,500 and had nearly $30,000 in the bank. Former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson raised $4,400 and had nearly $40,000 in cash.
Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold has $283,000 in cash in her campaign account and about $1.7 million in TV advertising reserved, based on Federal Communications Commission contracts.
Prosecutor John Kellner, the GOP nominee for attorney general, raised $5,800 and had about $78,000 in cash. Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser still has nearly $900,000 in cash in his campaign account after booking $1.5 million in TV ads for the fall.
In the state treasurer’s contest, Democratic Treasurer Dave Young raised nearly $16,000 compared to Republican Lang Sias’s $500 over the two-week filing period.