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Democrat has strong showing in deep-red Colorado congressional district as candidates file fundraising reports

John Aguilar, The Denver Post on

Published in Political News

DENVER — Colorado’s latest congressional campaign fundraising snapshot — the final one before the June 25 primary — showed new and intriguing dynamics emerging to stir things up in a high-profile presidential election year.

But some things have stayed the same — including in U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s current district, long after she announced she would run in a different part of the state.

Adam Frisch, the sole Democratic contender in the Boebert-represented 3rd Congressional District, once again hauled in the largest take of any Colorado congressional candidate from April 1 to June 5, with just over $1 million collected. That continues a trend of big fundraising by his campaign, which has amassed more than $14 million from donors over the last 18 months.

Across the state, in Colorado’s reddest district — where Boebert is now running — Democratic contender Ike McCorkle brought in an impressive $462,000 since the start of April. He even outgunned Boebert, the top GOP fundraiser in the race, by more than $100,000.

Whether that kind of cash can translate into a McCorkle primary win in the 4th Congressional District is yet to be seen. And a Democratic victory in November, in a district where Republicans have a major numerical advantage, would be an upset.

But it shows a serious play by Democratic backers for a district that hasn’t elected a representative from their party to Congress since 2008. Besides the Boebert effect, McCorkle likely has also benefited from the name recognition brought by two previous runs for the seat.

The deadline for the latest campaign fundraising reports was Thursday. Here are some takeaways from candidates’ filings in the multiple-candidate primary races in Colorado.

3rd Congressional District

Frisch, unopposed in the Democratic primary, continued his dominance in the money game. His $1 million take starting April 1 was far more than all six of the Republican candidates’ fundraising combined during the period.

He came close to beating Boebert in 2022, and his big campaign war chest initially was filled by a desire from Democrats to take her out this year in the sprawling, mostly Western Slope district that encompasses Grand Junction, Durango and Pueblo. Though she left the race at the end of 2023 to try her hand in the more conservative 4th District, Frisch’s fierce fundraising fury continues to outpace everyone else in the state.

The Republican side was led by Colorado State Board of Education member Stephen Varela, who posted $193,000 in receipts in the most recent period. He eclipsed Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, who has attracted several high-profile endorsements from party elders.

Hurd collected $151,000 in the most recent reporting period and still holds a more than 2-to-1 edge in cash on hand over Varela.

4th Congressional District

Boebert is far and away the fundraising leader among the half-dozen Republican candidates fighting for the party’s nomination in the district, which covers much of the Eastern Plains as well as Douglas County. She collected nearly $334,000 since April 1. Her next-closest competitor was former radio host Deborah Flora, of Parker, who reported just over $70,000 in donations.

 

Boebert’s campaign received a boost from an independent poll released earlier this month showing her with a substantial lead over her Republican rivals in the June 25 primary, though a large share were undecided.

State Rep. Mike Lynch landed a cool $54,000 during the latest reporting period, besting Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg’s $43,000 haul. Bringing up the tail were state Rep. Richard Holtorf, with $10,150, and Weld County businessman Peter Yu, who took in just $225 over the last two months.

While McCorkle, a Marine veteran from Parker, did the best of all candidates from both parties in raising money in the 4th District, the Democrat’s cash on hand ($163,000) badly trailed Boebert’s nearly $700,000 war chest, as of June 5.

His opponents in the Democratic primary, Trisha Calvarese and John Padora, took in $99,000 and $55,000, respectively, during the period. Calvarese, a union advocate and National Science Foundation writer, is also running in the 4th District’s special election against Republican Greg Lopez, a former Parker mayor, to fill out the rest of the term of former U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who resigned in March.

5th Congressional District

The money advantage in the district where Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn is retiring belongs to conservative Colorado Springs activist and longtime radio host Jeff Crank. He more than doubled the take of his GOP rival — and head of the state’s Republican Party — Dave Williams.

Crank reported $208,000 in donations in the most recent fundraising period, versus $79,000 for Williams. Those totals were collected before Williams sent out an email to party members disparaging the LBGT community, which has led several county GOP party heads in Colorado to demand he resign.

The two Democrats in the 5th District primary — River Gassen and Joe Reagan — together collected about half of what Williams reported in donations. The district is a Republican stronghold centered on El Paso County.

8th Congressional District

Neither GOP contender in Colorado’s newest congressional district came close to raising what U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo raised over the last two-plus months. The first-term Democrat added nearly $558,000 to her campaign account, ending the period with about $2.3 million in cash on hand.

In November, she will face either state Rep. Gabe Evans, who collected more than $121,000 since April 1, or retired physician and former state lawmaker Janak Joshi, who reported more than $63,000 in donations. Fifty thousand dollars of Joshi’s total was a loan he made to his campaign.

The 8th District race, which includes northern Denver suburbs and Greeley, was one of the tightest congressional contests in the country in 2022, its maiden year as a district. Caraveo beat her Republican opponent by approximately 1,600 votes — a less than 1 percentage point separation.


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