Fundraising efforts favor Democratic Party | VailDaily.com

Fundraising efforts favor Democratic Party

EAGLE COUNTY — If money equals speech, then Democrats running for local and state offices can speak with a louder voice this year.

A look at state records shows a variety of sources of the money going toward candidates for county and state offices. Most donations of $400 or less come from individuals, with a few lobbying or advocacy groups included in the mix. Donations of $400 or more still come largely from individuals, with some notable exceptions.

Leaving out harder-to-track outside groups, here's a brief look at who's raised what for the candidate-linked campaigns:

State Senate

The partisan split in the Senate is 18-17, in favor of Democrats. Senate District 5 is currently represented by Gail Schwartz of Snowmass, but Schwartz is leaving office due to term limit laws. That means Democrat Kerry Donovan of Vail and Republican Don Suppes of Orchard City, a small town in Delta County, are competing for an open seat.

An open seat in a legislature usually draws a good bit of attention, but even more so when the seat could shift partisan control.

As of Sept. 29, Donovan had raised more than $130,000 compared to $82,000 for Suppes.

The state's Democrats have put a total of nearly $19,000 into Donovan's campaign. The Blue Flower Fund, a group dedicated to electing women Democrats, contributed $1,500 in the most recent reporting period.

Other donations of $1,000 or more have come from the state's sheet metal and transportation unions. A pair of Denver-area lobbyists have contributed $400 each.

Suppes' contributions from groups have come primarily from business-related organizations. Since Suppes owns a heating and air-conditioning business, a $400 contribution from the Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors is no surprise.

Other $400 contributions have come from the state's trucking industry, a state Realtors' political action committee, the state's Certified Public Accountants and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The state's "small donor" committee representing Realtors has contributed $4,500, as has a group called "Homes for all Coloradoans."

State Representative

This race is between two Steamboat Springs-area residents, Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush and Republican Chuck McConnell.

Mitsch Bush is running for a second term in the House, and McConnell, who ran against Mitsch Bush in an open-seat race in 2012, is taking another run at the position.

The nation's election system tends to favor incumbents, and that's true at fundraising time. Mitsch Bush has raised more than $46,000 for her run compared to just less than $21,000 by McConnell.

Again, the bulk of donations in this race come from individuals and are less than $400.

Mitsch Bush's donations of that amount or greater have come from groups including CenturyLink employees — $600. The state's trial lawyers small donor fund has contributed $1,000, and Colorado Ceasefire, a gun-control advocacy group, has provided $400.

Other donations have come from the state's chiropractors, a Realtors' group and the One Colorado political action committee, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian and transgender issues.

A note about deadlines

The reporting deadlines are different for state-level and county-level candidates. State-level candidates have to report more frequently, while the last county-level deadline for fundraising was through July 24

County Commissioner

There are four people running for two seats on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.

The District 2 seat is contested by Democrat Kathy Chandler Henry and Republican Courtney Holm.

Chandler Henry as of the last reporting date had raised a total of $3,090, with the candidate herself contributing $2,050.

As of the end of July, Holm had only reimbursed herself $999 for mileage expenses.

The District 3 seat is open — incumbent Sara Fisher is leaving due to term limit laws — and is being contested by Republican Dick Mayne and Democrat Jeanne McQueeney.

Mayne was self-funding his campaign through the last reporting period, contributing a total of $4,290.

McQueeney had raised a total of $6,270 as of the last reporting deadline, with one $1,000 contribution from an individual.

Sheriff

This race is also for an open seat, since Republican James van Beek in June defeated incumbent Sheriff Joe Hoy in a primary election.

Democrat Daric Harvey had declared early for the race and would have faced either Republican in the November election.

As of the July 24 deadline, Harvey had raised more than $16,000, with $11,000 coming from three private donors, two of whom provided Harvey's campaign with $5,000 each.

Total contributions to van Beek's campaign added up to $4,450.

Something to remember

While money often makes a difference in campaigns, it's far from a sure predictor of success. Amendment 66, a 2013 ballot issue proposing an increase in the state's income tax to revise Colorado's school funding system, benefited from millions in campaign spending. Opponents raised a small fraction of the money supporters did.

The amendment was defeated by a roughly 2-to-1 margin.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.