The Denver Post
Lynn Bartels
May 7, 2014
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper crushed his GOP gubernatorial opponents in fundraising for the first four months of this year, outraising all four of them combined.

In addition, Hickenlooper has $1.6 million on hand for his re-election campaign, while the Republicans appear to be short of funds to win the GOP primary on June 24, let alone knock off the governor in November.

Fundraising reports for the gubernatorial candidates, showing contributions and expenses from January through April, were due Monday.

“At this point in an election, cash on hand is absolutely critical. No matter how much money you’ve raised, if you don’t have money in the bank it’s going to be tough,” said Dick Wadhams, former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

“Having said that, we’re in a new age. Campaigns don’t control their destiny anymore, with the advent of outside spending and independent groups.”

But even that it’s-a-new-day logic comes with a twist that suggests trouble for one GOP candidate. Former Congressman Tom Tancredo said he has been told conservative outside groups will spend money to make sure he doesn’t win the primary for governor, rather than helping him afterward. He said Republican “fat cats” are worried his tough stance on illegal immigration might repel voters.

The fundraising reports show:

• Tancredo spent more money than he raised during the first four months of the year. His donors — more than 10,000 since he kicked off his campaign — have contributed an average of $67.52.

• Former state Sen. Mike Kopp won the delegate vote at the state GOP assembly last month and helped keep two Republicans off the ballot. But he raised only $106,189 in the first four months of the year and has the lowest cash on hand of any of the GOP candidates, almost $34,000.

• Former Congressman Bob Beauprez, who announced in early March, raised $218,387 in just 58 days and loaned his campaign $220,000. Beauprez has $118,399 on hand, having spent nearly $270,000 to collect signatures to get on the ballot.

• Secretary of State Scott Gessler reported receiving 955 contributions this period, with an average of $128 per contribution.

Republican strategist Kelly Maher said she believes the reports are an indication that donors are waiting to see which Republican wins the primary before opening their wallets. She maintains Hickenlooper is vulnerable.

Said lobbyist Mike Feeley, a Democrat and a former lawmaker: “If they think they’re going to win this race, they should check with President Romney.”

Beating Hickelooper won’t be easy, not just because he raised $962,658 in the first four months of the year and polling shows him beating his Republican challengers. The last time Coloradans defeated an elected incumbent governor was in 1962, when Republican John Love unseated Democrat Steve McNichols.

Jennifer Duffy, senior political editor at the Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C., has listed Colorado’s governor’s race as “likely D.”

“It’s definitely not at the top of people’s list of vulnerable governors,” she said.

But Duffy said the Republican Governors Association has raised $60 million — almost three times as much as the Democratic Governors Association — to help GOP candidates.

The next fundraising report is due May 19.