The election is still weeks out, but it’s already been a wave year for Colorado: A green wave.
Candidates in closely watched races in the state pulled down impressive totals this fundraising quarter.
Paperwork filed for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner shows a fundraising haul of $7.8 million, the highest he’s raised in any three-month span this cycle. Seth Masket, professor of political science at the University of Denver, said it’s a pretty impressive number for an incumbent in Colorado.
But it has been dwarfed by Gardner’s Democratic opponent, John Hickenlooper. He raised $22.6 million during the same time period.
Hickenlooper goes into the final stretch of the election with a cash on hand edge. He's got $7.2 million available to spend, while Gardner has nearly $6.8 million left.
“Generally you want more money than less,” Masket said. “But this close to November, these kinds of totals aren’t going to make a huge difference.” He said there’s not that much airtime left to buy and he thinks most voters have already made up their minds. Voting has started in the state; more than 300,000 ballots already had been returned by Thursday.
Where good fundraising numbers can help, Masket said, is in races where candidates aren’t as well known or people haven’t made up their minds, such as in the 3rd Congressional District.
Republican Lauren Boebert raised an eye-popping $1.8 million this quarter. According to her campaign, more than 10,000 individuals from Colorado and across the country donated. And she ends the quarter with more than $450,000 cash on hand.
She thanked her supporters saying, “We are heading toward victory because thousands upon thousands of freedom-loving patriots are joining the fight for our collective freedom and prosperity.”
But like the Senate race, the Democratic opponent outraised the Republican this quarter. Diane Mitsch Bush collected more than $2.5 million and she goes into the final weeks with more than $960,000 cash on hand. Mitsch Bush said she was “humbled” by the support.
“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work on practical solutions that will help people in Western and Southern Colorado have a better future,” she said.
Masket pointed out this is a contest where money spent on advertising or voter contact could make a difference. The two are locked in a tight race, with Democrats hoping to flip the reliably Republican seat.
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Overall the large fundraising numbers aren’t surprising to Masket.
“The single greatest fundraiser right now for Democrats is Donald Trump, honestly. He’s a major motivational issue for them,” Masket said. And that’s helping Democratic candidates down the ballot, especially in competitive races.
Editor's note: The article has been updated with Hickenlooper's correct cash on hand amount of $7.2 million.