Colorado 2022 election campaign funding, Deep Wells Colorado

Pick a Colorado Democrat seeking a statewide office and chances are they have more money in the bank than the entire Republican field, according to recently filed campaign finance reports.

Gov. Jared Polis entered September with more than $3.3 million in his campaign coffers; Attorney General Phil Weiser had just more than $1 million; Secretary of State Jena Griswold reported $711,000 in cash on hand. The outlier is Treasurer Dave Young — seeking re-election in typically the lowest profile of the constitutional offices — who reported $72,000 in cash on hand.

The entire Republican field, meanwhile, reported having $402,322.51 among the four of them.

Individually, those races breakdown like this: Governor candidate Heidi Ganahl had about $188,000 in cash on hand; Attorney General candidate John Kellner had about $91,000; Secretary of State candidate Pam Anderson had about $33,000; and Treasurer candidate Lang Sias had about $90,000.

The reports, due by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, cover July 28 through Aug. 31. The reports only cover state candidates. Federal campaign finance reports, which cover congressional and U.S. Senate races, aren’t due until mid-October.

But money isn’t everything, Colorado GOP Executive Director Joe Jackson argued. The races are closer than their funding, even as Democrats “try and buy these seats,” he said in an email.

“Money won’t save the Colorado Democrat candidates from their record of raising taxes on families, creating a drug epidemic, failing our students, or serving as a rubber stamp for the Biden agenda,” Jackson said.

Spokespeople for the Democratic Party and the Ganahl campaign didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Polis, a centimillionaire, shattered self-funding records in his 2018 campaign and is again fueling his campaign from his own pockets. He spent more than $23 million on his first bid for governor. As of the end of August this year, he’s spent another $7 million to keep the seat.

Polis’ financial advantages aside — campaign cash-on-hand doesn’t say much about a deep-pocketed self-funder who can replenish their election coffers on a whim — the three other Colorado candidates are far more flush than they were at this point in the 2018 cycle. Then, Weiser, Griswold and Young collectively had just shy of $500,000 in the bank.

Republican candidates this year had less in the bank going forward than their 2018 counterparts. At this point in the 2018 cycle, Republican nominee for governor Walker Stapleton alone reported more than $555,000 in the bank, while the rest of the GOP field for statewide reported another $484,000.

Spokespeople for the state Democratic Party and the Ganahl campaign did not immediately return requests for comment.

Money spent to influence voters doesn’t only flow to and from campaign coffers, of course. Millions have already been spent by independent expenditure groups.

Deep Colorado Wells, which is supporting Ganahl and opposing Polis, reported $5 million in the bank after spending nearly $1 million on banners, radio ads and billboards. It’s almost entirely funded by Weld Country rancher and oil and gas proponent Steve Wells, whose voicemail tells people who support the state’s Democratic leadership not to bother leaving a message.

While that appears to be the biggest independent expenditure committee so far, it’s not the only one. All Together Colorado, which is supporting Democrats, reported $2.7 million in the bank after spending more than $800,000. And that’s just two in a sea of independent expenditure committees.

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