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Polis injects $5.2 million into his campaign as Republicans lag Democrats statewide

Gov. Jared Polis makes remarks during the 100-year anniversary commemoration of the Pueblo flood that killed over 500 people in Pueblo, June 3, 2021. The event also marked the completion of the reconstruction of the levee the town built after that disastrous 1921 flood. (Mike Sweeney/Special to The Colorado Sun)
Democratic incumbents for attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer continue to outraise rivals

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, a multimillionaire, poured $5.2 million of his own money into his reelection campaign in the first four months of this year, signaling that he is willing to open his pockets to secure another four years leading Colorado.

Polis used that infusion to schedule $3.4 million worth of TV advertising for September and October.

The two Republicans running in the June 28 primary for a chance to unseat Polis are significantly lagging behind the incumbent, who spent more than $23 million to secure his first term in 2018, in fundraising.

In fact, all of the GOP candidates for statewide office are lagging behind their Democratic opponents when it comes to campaign cash.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday provide the first glimpse of how the June 28 primary election and the Nov. 8 general election are shaping up in terms of candidates’ financial warchests. They cover fundraising and spending from Jan. 1 through April 27.

Polis and three other Democratic incumbents are using their cash advantage already to line up TV ad time in the weeks before the general election. And super PACs are raising money to support Democrats in three of the four statewide contests.

Meanwhile, two leading GOP candidates – Heidi Ganahl, who is running for governor, and Pam Anderson, who is running for secretary of state – spent significant sums in the first four months of the year to collect petition signatures to make the primary ballot. Both face primary opponents who made the ballot at April’s raucous GOP assembly.

And Republican Tina Peters, the indicted Mesa County Clerk running for secretary of state, had yet to file her campaign finance report as of 9 a.m. Tuesday. The deadline was 10 p.m. Monday.

Two gubernatorial candidates self-fund, one significantly more than the other

In the first four months of 2022, Polis brought his total personal campaign contributions to more than $5.9 million, while also raising about $402,000 from donors despite limiting his contributions to $100 a year from individuals.

His campaign had nearly $5 million in cash on April 27, though that doesn’t reflect his spending on TV ad reservations.

Republican candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl speaks during the GOP assembly at the Broadmoor World Arena on Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Colorado Springs. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun)

Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent and the only remaining statewide elected Republican, put another $150,000 of her own money into her campaign, bringing her total four-month fundraising haul to nearly $377,000. She’s raised $1 million since announcing her candidacy, with $400,000 coming from her own pocket.

Ganahl originally pledged to limit her campaign spending to $3.4 million, allowing her to collect double the $1,250 contribution limit for individual donations to gubernatorial candidates. She backed out of that pledge in late January, but not before she raised $165,000 in larger contributions from 135 donors.

The campaign paid Blitz Canvassing, a signature-gathering firm, more than $212,000 between January and March. The campaign had a little more than $200,000 in the bank heading into May.

Ganahl faces former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez in the primary. He secured a spot on the ballot through the GOP’s state assembly.

Lopez’s fundraising lags far behind Ganahl’s. Lopez raised only $36,000 in the first four months of the year, bringing his election-cycle total to less than $106,000. And he had only $16,000 in cash at the end of April.

Greg Lopez speaks during the GOP assembly at the Broadmoor World Arena on Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Colorado Springs. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun)

Then there’s Danielle Neuschwanger, who failed to make the Republican ballot at the assembly and instead is running for governor under the American Constitution Party banner. She raised nearly $73,000 in the first four months of the year and loaned her campaign another $33,000, bringing her total personal investment to nearly $69,000. She had $15,000 in cash on April 27.

As the candidates compete, the super PAC Strong Colorado for All, which supports Democrats, was sitting on $467,000 in cash at the end of April, some of it from the Democratic Governors Association. That money presumably will be used to support Polis in the fall.

Dems also lead among other statewide campaigns

Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold raised nearly $875,000 between January and April 27, which her campaign says is a record since at least 2000 for a candidate for secretary of state, attorney general or treasurer in a single filing period.

That brings her election-cycle total to $2.5 million. She had more than $301,000 in cash at the end of April after reserving nearly $1.8 million worth of ad time in the weeks leading up to the election.

Peters, Griswold’s most high-profile GOP opponent and perhaps the most polarizing candidate in Colorado’s 2022 election, failed to file a campaign finance report, triggering an automatic $50 fine for each day the report is late.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, left, and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. (Colorado Sun file photos)

A grand jury indicted Peters earlier this year in a security breach of her county’s election system. And Griswold is asking a judge to remove Peters from overseeing this year’s election, as she did in 2021.

Anderson, a former Jefferson County clerk, raised about $51,000 in the first four months of the year, paying Blitz Canvassing $70,000 over that span for petition signatures. She had only about $6,000 in the bank on April 27.

Mike O’Donnell, a former nonprofit executive from the Eastern Plains who also made the GOP primary ballot in the secretary of state’s race via the state assembly, raised only about $3,100 in the first fundraising period of the year, while putting more than $53,000 of his own cash into his campaign. He had about $38,000 in cash on hand to end April.

Once her Republican opponent is set, Griswold likely will get help from Defend Democracy Fund, a super PAC created to support her that raised more than $508,000 in the first four months of the year.

Attorney General Phil Weiser raised $512,000 in the first four months of the year, bringing his election-cycle total to $3.2 million. He reserved more than $1 million in fall TV ad time, and still had $1.6 million in the bank to begin May.

Weiser will face Republican John Kellner, the district attorney in the 18th Judicial District, in November. Kellner raised $106,000 in the first few months of his campaign, and had about $84,000 in cash on April 27.

Weiser can expect help from the DAGA Colorado People’s Lawyer Project, a super PAC that raised $193,000 in the first four months of the year. DAGA stands for the Democratic Attorneys General Association. It’s unclear if Republicans have a similar independent spending committee to support Kellner, though in the past the Republican Attorneys General Association has supported GOP candidates in Colorado.

The state treasurer’s contest is more low-key in terms of fundraising than the other three statewide races, but the Democratic incumbent has a similar cash advantage.

Incumbent Democratic Treasurer Dave Young raised nearly $100,000, bringing his total raised during the election cycle to $387,000. After making a $169,000 TV ad reservation, Young had about $94,000 in cash to end April.

His GOP opponent, former state representative and lieutenant governor candidate Lang Sias, raised $51,000. He had about $59,000 in cash left at the end of last month.

Read more at The Colorado Sun

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.