County Dems’ fundraising lead thinning

With about three months to go until the November election, the Democratic candidates for two La Plata County commissioner seats have raised about double what Democrats had amassed at the same point in the 2008 campaign. But the fundraising lead Julie Westendorff and Gwen Lachelt previously held against their Republican opponents is getting slimmer.

Campaign finance reports filed Thursday show Lachelt, Democratic candidate for District 2, holds the lead in overall fundraising, with a total of $18,188. Her opponent, current commissioner and Republican Kellie Hotter, has raised $12,633. Westendorff and Harry Baxstrom, who are vying for the District 3 seat, are about equal in fundraising, with contribution totals of $13,393 and $12,913, respectively.

Baxtrom, a Republican, raised $6,343 during the most recent filing period from June 18 until July 21. The other candidates raised between $2,100 and $2,600 during that period.

As election season nears, the candidates have ramped up expenditures on newspaper ads, yard signs and mailer printing.

Together, the candidates spent $7,744 on advertising since mid-June. The category includes everything from sign printing to mailers and portrait photography to newspaper ads.

Lachelt and Hotter shelled out $2,223 and $1,224 respectively for “consultant and professional services” during this filing period. Both candidates said those costs mainly paid for advertising and marketing consulting and materials.

Looking ahead to the coming months, the candidates have set their fundraising sights high.

Lachelt said she is looking to raise about $44,000 – the amount Hotter raised in her 2008 campaign. The District 2 seat hasn’t been won by a Democrat since 1988, making the campaign an uphill battle, Lachelt said.

“It’s a David versus Goliath sort of battle for this seat because it has been such a long time since Democrat had it,” she said.

Hotter said she hasn’t determined a final fundraising goal and expects to recycle many of her campaign materials from 2008. She did emphasize the need to “have a good war chest” to speak to increasing accusations from the “extreme liberal” wing.

Baxstrom could not be reached for comment Friday.

Julie Westendorff, who spent the most during the last filing period, said she hoped to raise an additional $25,000 by the end of her campaign. Gaining name recognition costs a lot, but costs of the little stuff also have increased since 2008, Westendorff said.

“Prices have gone up on everything, from print media to postage,” she said. “Even to do the same it costs you more money.”

ecowan@durangoherald.com

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