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.
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 on 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.
O’Dea’s campaign spent much of its money getting its message out, buying TV and digital ads as well as text messaging. The campaign reported owing nearly $106,000 to three consulting firms.
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.
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.
The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.