DENVER – Democratic candidates for Colorado’s governorship in 2018 far out-raised most Republican candidates in the third quarter of 2017 fundraising, though two political action committees are making splashes in the race already as individual fundraising tops $7.3 million.
All five Democratic candidates out-raised their Republican counterparts this quarter, which covers the period between July 1 and Sept. 30.
Rep. Jared Polis led all candidates by raising $437,755 this quarter, though he contributed $370,000 of that money himself in a single contribution.
Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, who entered the race halfway through the fundraising period, brought in $374,269.
Former state senator Michael Johnston raised $321,348 after starting the quarter with more than $650,000 in cash. After he spent nearly $250,000 this quarter, he ended September with $724,509 in on-hand cash.
And a PAC linked to Johnston, Frontier Fairness, which is Johnston’s campaign slogan, brought in $300,000 from just two donors: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, who contributed $250,000, and Vestar Capital founder James Kelley.
However, Johnston’s campaign maintains the two entities aren’t linked. “We did this without raising one dollar of special interest or PAC money,” an email from the campaign sent out Monday evening said.
Former state treasurer Cary Kennedy brought in $225,758 and spent nearly $200,000, ending the quarter with nearly $254,000 cash on hand. Her campaign manager said the fundraising shows her campaign “has continued to gain momentum.”
And Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg raised $216,558 while spending $235,130 to end the quarter with $172,862.
“Every single Democrat running for governor out-raised every single Republican running for governor, reflecting a nationwide trend of higher enthusiasm on the Democratic side,” said Eric Walker, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Colorado, which has yet to endorse a candidate.
Republican fundraising lags behind Dems, but Stapleton PAC does well
On the Republican side, George Brauchler raised the most amount of independent cash, though it was half the amount Ginsburg received: $104,612. After spending $68,841, he ended the quarter with $173,970 in cash on hand.
That was slightly less than Doug Robinson ended the quarter with ($184,252) after he raised $75,417 and spent $65,467 in the quarter.
Victor Mitchell, who is mostly self-funding his campaign after a multi-million-dollar loan to himself to kick off his campaign, raised only $15,291 and spent almost $350,000 to bring his end-of-quarter cash-on-hand amount to $2.31 million. He started the quarter with $2.65 million in cash.
Greg Lopez and Stephen Barlock each raised less than $8,000 this quarter, ending it with less than $1,300 in on-hand cash each.
And Walker Stapleton, who officially entered the race with only a few days left before the end of the fundraising period, raised $18,000, which included a $10,000 loan from himself. His campaign committee spent only $210.
But Better Colorado Now, the PAC that has been working to raise money and is expected to be the main financial engine for Stapleton’s campaign, though it has to remain separate, brought in $625,000 in donations during the period, which included money from John Elway, Jeb Bush, and Jim Dewitt, among other high-profile donors.
It ended the quarter retaining most of that cash after spending only $27,000.
Stapleton’s campaign manager, Michael Fortney, said that the PAC’s fundraising figures were telling when compared to Brauchler’s PAC, Colorado Strong, which raised no money this quarter.
Brauchler was up early into Tuesday morning, when he tweeted “Right to Rise 2.0,” in regards to Better Colorado Now – a reference to the PAC that financed Jeb Bush’s failed presidential campaign. (Bush is Stapleton’s cousin.)
But Stapleton’s team says it isn’t worried about Brauchler’s social media digs; Fortney says they have a bigger goal.
“Right now, we’re focused on beating Jared Polis. That’s what this is about. That’s where all our focus is.” Fortney told Denver7. “Jared Polis has a track record of spending what it takes to win, and that’s why from Day 1, we were laser focused on beating Jared Polis and making sure he’s not imposing his liberal agenda in Colorado.”
In all, $7.31 million of independent expenditures have already been raised in the race, and $2.95 million has been spent. When adding in the PAC money flowing in, the race is approaching $10 million in fundraising, which it is expected to top in the last quarter of 2017.