Cash keeps freely flowing into the coffers of the Republican candidates in the 4th Congressional District primary race.
Leading the way, according to the latest figures from the Federal Election Commission, is Weld District Attorney and Windsor resident Ken Buck, who has raised $597,810 in his bid for the 4th CD seat.
Fort Collins rancher Steve Laffey is second on the money-raising list with $400,428, while state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, has raised $211,680 and Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer has brought in $46,265.
“Obviously, we’re not short of money here. Everybody’s got a little bit of it,” laughed political analyst Floyd Ciruli of Denver. “There will probably be some attack ads between the top candidates. It looks to me like you definitely need a couple of hundred thousand dollars here to be able to buy the level of radio, some television and, in particular, lots of mail and email and all the direct voter contact material.”
The four candidates are running against one another in the June 24 Republican primary election for the right to run against Democrat Vic Meyers of Trinidad and unaffiliated candidate Grant Doherty of Lochbuie in November.
According to the FEC numbers, Meyers has raised $16,338, while Doherty had raised $673. The FEC figures reflect fundraising through March 31. Ballots will be mailed the first week in June.
The 2013 year-end reports from the FEC had Buck with $262,347 in cash on hand from his Senate race before he switched to run for the 4th CD seat in February. Of the $597,810 raised by Buck, $582,423 has come from individuals and $13,000 from political action committees, including $4,000 from Gun Owners of America. Contributions this quarter for Buck’s campaign were $201,854.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, and we feel like we’re in a pretty good position going forward,” said Tim Griesmer, Buck’s campaign manager.
With so much of the money coming from individuals and not from his pocket, Griesmer said that’s important to note.
“I think it’s a measure of the amount of support that Ken has at the grass-roots level,” Griesmer said. “He’s got a campaign that’s being funded by voters. When we transitioned from the Senate race to the House race, we still had quite a bit of support.”
Political analyst Kyle Saunders of Colorado State University said all the individual donations in Buck’s campaign indicates he has the most name recognition.
“I think with Buck having run for statewide office, he’s probably much more well known,” Saunders said. “People are unlikely to give money to people that they don’t know their name.”
Ciruli said just because Buck has the most financial support in individual donations doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to win, although he did say he has some momentum based on the number of individuals who have donated to his campaign.
“We used to think that would be some kind of important thing and they all use it in their one press release they send out about their money,” Ciruli said of getting money from individuals. “If that was true, there wouldn’t be any rich people in Congress. About half of them are self funded in terms of their starts. We actually like rich people to run, and we vote for them all the time.”
Laffey and Renfroe have self-funded their campaigns to the tune of $350,000 for Laffey and $200,000 for Renfroe, who earned the top spot on the ticket with the most delegate votes at the 4th CD assembly in Broomfield last week.
“There’s an incredible amount of self funding there, so obviously people really feel they’ve got a shot,” Ciruli said. “You hate to spend $200,000 or $300,000 of your own money and not win. You can see they’re going to go flat out at it.”
Saunders said with Laffey and Renfroe putting up so much of their own money, it will signal to donors in the next cycle that they’re serious.
“It shows, ‘I’m committed. I’m in. If you think I’m the best candidate, you should support me,’ ” Saunders said.
Renfroe has raised $6,680 in individual donations, and $5,000 from PAC money, which came from the National Association for Gun Rights, which is based in Windsor.
“Since the assembly, it’s been going great. A lot of excitement and been making a lot of phone calls,” Renfroe said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of money in this race and there’s going to have to probably be a lot of money raised. Our goal is $100,000 to $300,000 more to do the things we want to do, but we’ll be grateful for where we end up and use every dollar wisely.”
He added, “I didn’t concentrate on fundraising through the first month. I was calling delegates, so that was money that came in through emails that we’ve sent and very little fundraising efforts. We’re excited to get started into that phase and move forward. We’ll raise a lot more.”
Kirkmeyer said she’s pleased with her campaign donations, considering that she was the last candidate to enter the race March 3. Most of Kirkmeyer’s contributions ($45,001) are from individual donations.
“Mine is all grass roots. It’s individuals who have come forward and want to support me and put in anywhere from $20 to $1,000,” Kirkmeyer said. “We’re looking at trying to raise about $200,000. I’m a fourth of the way there. We have a lot coming up in the next couple of weeks as far as fundraising goes. I feel very good about it. I feel very confident. I’ve been getting a lot of very positive support from folks throughout the entire district.”
Laffey has the most cash on hand ($343,958), with Renfroe in second ($190,905), Buck third ($153,588) and Kirkmeyer fourth ($44,929). Some of Buck’s campaign cash went to the “Ken Cares” videos that his campaign produced.
“Mr. Buck has had about eight months. Myself and the other two have had 23 days. I think the campaign is going really well. I’ve been all over the district,” said Laffey, who has raised $50,428 from individual donors. “I’m just out raising more money and we’ll do the best we can. Whatever it takes, we’ll do. A campaign has its ups and downs, but I feel good that we’re getting our message out.”