Support from small donors and larger PACS gives Buck advantage in GOP 4th CD primary race
June 25, 2014
Ken Buck had the name recognition going into the Colorado GOP 4th Congressional District race.
Buck, the Weld district attorney, has proven during the campaign that he also has the most financial support in the race with a lot of that support coming from within the state.
As the mail ballot primary election concludes with election day Tuesday, Buck has raised more money this cycle than his three opponents — Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Fort Collins businessman Steve Laffey.
According to federal election records, Buck has collected more than $737,000 this cycle, including nearly $154,000 he raised between April 1 and June 4 in his bid to replace U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, who is running for U.S. Senate.
"I think our message has been clear. I am going to Washington, D.C., to fight against the erosion of our constitutional rights and reduce the federal government spending and reach into our lives," Buck said. "Fundraising is an indicator of support. In our campaign, it's not a self-funded campaign. Two of my opponents have put a lot of their own money into their campaigns. My campaign is based on the support of thousands of folks across Colorado, in particular the 4th Congressional District, who have donated."
Buck has had some national donations and has received nearly $47,000 from political action committees, which leads the other three candidates in that category.
Recommended Stories For You
"There is some national, but I'm honored to have the support of the folks of Colorado," said Buck, who has received $2,500 from KochPAC, tied to the company owned by conservatives David and Charles Koch, and $5,000 from the leadership PAC run by Cantor. "It's gratifying to get the support from folks."
Kirkmeyer said she's not self-funding her campaign, but she thinks she has done well in a short time frame.
According to opensecrets.org, Kirkmeyer has received big support from Principled Conservatives of Colorado out of the Denver area to the tune of $48,508 for her mailing expenses.
"I don't know specifically who all that is. There are rules against that, and I don't get to know who they are and what they do," Kirkmeyer said.
Renfroe loaned his campaign another $70,000 on June 5 to go with the $200,000 he's already put in and he raised another $67,000. Laffey loaned his campaign $350,000 in March and raised another $106,000.
Laffey said he's driven nearly 8,000 miles with his family throughout the district during the campaign, and has had fun during the campaign.
"If we lose, I will have lost an awful lot of money and my investors' money and I'll be sad about that, but I'm not giving up no matter what," Laffey said. "We had a complete budget and that was my budget. There won't be any money left."
Renfroe said in addition to the $200,000 he put in at the start, he wanted to get close to between $300,000 and $400,000.
"We were able to do the TV we wanted and put the mail program out," Renfroe said.
Political analyst and political science professor Kyle Saunders of Colorado State University said Buck has been the most visible candidate because of the name recognition he had and the money he's raised, first in the U.S. Senate race and then when he got into the 4th CD race.
"I still think he was the frontrunner coming into this. I think Renfroe had some momentum from the convention," Saunders said. "If there is going to be a challenger, it's going to be Renfroe to Buck. Buck should have been able to win this race. If he ends up winning, it won't surprise me."
Saunders said Buck had a lot of large contributors such as $10,400 apiece from Mark Bogosian of Colorado Springs and Christian Chisholm of Littleton and $7,500 from Tom Roche of Greeley, but he also had a lot of smaller donors that proves he had a solid base in his support.
"Another sign to me that Buck has a pretty good chance of winning this race is that he could have found more PAC money because he had those connections," Saunders said.
With the recent shocking defeat of outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia to underdog Tea Party favorite Dave Brat, the Tea Party could play a part in the 4th CD race. Buck has been endorsed by Tea Party Express, while Renfroe has the endorsement of the Tea Party Leadership Fund.
"I think the Tea Party is one of many conservative groups, and I think that this is a conservative district and I think that that endorsement helps," Buck said. "I have a lot of the local support of the Tea Party groups and leaders."
Buck said it's difficult to glean a message from that one election in Virginia.
Kirkmeyer said Republican voters are all going to play a part in this race.
"I think Cantor lost because it's that sentiment that's going on, and I think in the 4th Congressional District that they're tired of what's going on in Washington," Kirkmeyer said. "I think I line up very well with folks who are in the Tea Party because they have a tendency to be more libertarian and very fiscally conservative. I think I am very fiscally conservative demonstrated by my actions and my history with the county commissioners."
Laffey said he loved the fact that Cantor lost to Brat.
"I'm the only person in this race who called for (Speaker of the House) John Boehner to resign his position publicly. I am the outsider. I am Mr. Brat," Laffey said. "I'm the guy who taught finance at the University of Rhode Island. I'm the financial guy that believes in free markets, and I'm not the guy who keeps running for office. I have videos of me talking about Eric Cantor back in November and how he should get out of town."
Saunders said it's difficult to tell if the Tea Party will play a part.
"It's a different race than Virginia," Saunders said.
Renfroe said there is a lot of Tea Party support throughout the 4th CD.
"I know I've been endorsed by Tea Party groups, and so has Ken and even Steve has had some Tea Party support from different individuals," Renfroe said. "It's probably been divided that way. I think their turnout is going to be important in this race. I've always considered myself a senator that believes in a lot of the same things that many of the Tea Party groups believe in."
Laffey said it's hard to predict how the Tea Party will play in this race.
"I don't think anybody can tell you what's going to happen Tuesday night," Laffey said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.