Political donors in Southwest Colorado gave more to state Sen. Don Coram than Rep. Lauren Boebert during the first quarter of 2022, though Boebert remains far ahead in total money raised for her re-election campaign.
Coram’s campaign received $24,100 and Boebert’s campaign received $17,178 from residents of the five-county region – which includes Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties – according to a Durango Herald analysis of recent Federal Election Commission financial filings.
Coram is Boebert’s sole Republican opponent for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat. Three Democrats are running to unseat Boebert in a district that hasn’t elected a Democrat in over a decade and is estimated to have a 9-percentage-point advantage for Republicans after recent redistricting.
At least three of Boebert’s 10 largest donors in Southwest Colorado work in the oil and gas industry.
Boebert is a vocal proponent of investing in fossil fuels, and her husband owns an oil and gas consulting firm. At the State of the Union address in March, she sported a shawl featuring the words “Drill Baby Drill” in gold lettering.
Hesperus resident Randy LeFever, who owns oil-drilling equipment company Peak Compression Services, donated $1,000 to Boebert’s campaign in January, making him one of the campaign’s largest supporters during the first quarter of 2022 in Southwest Colorado.
“She supported oil and gas production in the whole state of Colorado and in the states around, whether it be mining or drilling or anything like that,” LeFever told the Herald.
LeFever said Boebert’s support for expanding and deregulating the fossil fuel industry greatly influenced his decision to donate to her re-election campaign. Even actions as simple as installing a compressor on an oil well can be met with dozens of regulations depending on the age and location of the well, LeFever said.
“I’m for clean air because I have grandbabies,” he said. “But we have so many different laws, it’s convoluted. If we have one clean emissions law, it’d be so easy to do and we could save so much money but there’s too many levels of regulations and that’s really where she’s at, too, is eliminating all the regulations and hindrances and still be clean at the same time.”
In total, Boebert raised about $838,000 during the first quarter of the year and has over $2.1 million on hand. Most of her donors live outside Colorado.
Coram has raised over $89,000 in the first quarter and has about $55,000 available to spend.
JD Key, Coram’s campaign manager, said the campaign has now raised over $100,000 from more than 520 individual donors, but he declined to provide a specific dollar figure.
“Fundraising is secondary to getting out, meeting the people and talking about the real issues,” Key said. “If people believe in the message, we absolutely encourage them to invest in what we’re trying to do here, but talking to the people is the most important thing and that is what’s going to win elections.”
From January to March, the Coram campaign was focused on obtaining enough signatures to petition onto the June primary ballot and did not actively fundraise, Key said.
“Obviously, since April 1 and especially since we were certified on the ballot, we have absolutely plussed-up our efforts to bring in money because we know we need it to get out our message,” Key said. “All the money in the world doesn’t win, people do. People voting do, your message does, and I think that’s what we rely on most.”
Democratic candidates for CD3 struggled to raise money anywhere near the amount of Coram and Boebert’s campaigns in Southwest Colorado, according to FEC filings.
Sol Sandoval, who leads the trio with over $264,000 in contributions for the first quarter, received $2,203 from donors in Southwest Colorado. She was the only Democrat to qualify for the June primary ballot via assembly.
Alex Walker, a Democratic candidate known for his active social media presence, received a single $250 donation from Cortez. Like Boebert, the majority of Walker’s fundraising has come from outside Colorado.
Adam Frisch, who qualified for the ballot via petition like Walker, received no donations from the region. Most of his donations came from his hometown area of Aspen.
Information about campaign fundraising in the second quarter of the year will be made available in July, after the Republican and Democratic candidates are selected for the general election in November.
Skye Witley, a senior at American University in Washington, D.C., is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.