Powered in part by billionaire investors, business titans and a few famous musicians, John Hickenlooper topped the U.S. Senate race’s fundraising battle during the first three months of 2020.
Hickenlooper, a Democratic former governor, raised about $4.1 million and had nearly $5 million on hand to begin April. Incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, raised $2.5 million last quarter and had $9.6 million to spend when an unexpected and unprecedented March came to a close.
As has been the case since Hickenlooper announced his candidacy in August, many donations in the first three months of 2020 came from wealthy individuals who live outside Colorado, including at least 10 billionaires who gave the maximum amount allowed by law.
They include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Kind Bar founder Daniel Lubetzky, Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and former Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, along with several others.
Also making maximum donations to Hickenlooper were director Steven Spielberg and his wife, along with director J.J. Abrams. Eagles drummer and singer Don Henley gave the $5,600 maximum. Satirist Tom Lehrer donated $2,600.
“Nearly 35,000 donors chipped into John’s campaign to change Washington last quarter, including a soap maker, a violinist, 10 truck drivers, 17 ranchers, 35 veterinarians and 175 teachers,” said Ammar Moussa, a Hickenlooper spokesman.
The first quarter of 2020 marks the second straight quarter in which Gardner was beaten in fundraising by Hickenlooper. Of the $2.5 million the incumbent took in from January through March, $242,080 came from political action committees and $376,650 was transferred from other fundraising committees.
Oil and gas PACs continue to give to Gardner, as they have in prior years. PACs for the American Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute sent $2,500 his way last quarter, and Halliburton’s PAC contributed $3,000.
Among tech companies, Microsoft’s PAC gave $10,000 and Dropbox Inc.’s gave $2,800. In pharmaceuticals, a PAC for Johnson and Johnson donated $5,000, Merck’s PAC sent $3,500, Sanofi’s donated $5,000 and a PAC for Novartis handed over $4,500. Walmart’s political action committee donated $4,000 to Gardner.
Casino businessman Michael Gaughan and his wife each gave $5,600. Cleveland Browns owner Susan Haslam gave $2,800. Four owners of Mineral Resources Inc., a Greeley oil and gas company, each gave $2,000. Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s top lobbyist, donated $5,000. Oil and gas billionaire Bryan Sheffield gave $5,600, and Sam Zell, another billionaire businessman, gave $2,600.
“Every day, our grassroots supporters continue to keep our momentum strong on the path to November,” said Casey Contres, Gardner’s campaign manager. “What’s clear from Senator Gardner’s Q1 fundraising numbers is Coloradans want a common sense conservative who delivers results, not a liberal socialist bent on changing America as we know it. Our campaign’s cash on hand advantage will allow us to have the necessary resources to defeat the far left in 2020.”
Hickenlooper is one of several Democratic contenders hoping to face Gardner this November. Andrew Romanoff, who is expected to win Saturday’s Democratic state assembly and find his name on June 30 primary ballots as a result, raised $421,533 last quarter and had $805,675 to begin April. His first-quarter fundraising was propelled overwhelmingly by small donors who live in Colorado.
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