Fund-raising gap emerges in commissioners race
EAGLE COUNTY – Richard DeClark has reeled in $21,170 in contributions supporting his campaign for a county commission seat. Roughly half of that money has come from the candidate himself.With more than two months left before the Nov. 2 election, DeClark appears to be on track to break spending and fund-raising records for an Eagle County commissioner campaign. Commissioner Tom Stone set that record when he spent around $30,000 on his campaign in 1998.
While political candidates for state and national office strive to gather the most money possible, money doesn’t necessarily guarantee victory – particularly in a local race, said Deb Marquez, a chairwoman of the local Democratic party. More telling, she said, is the number of individuals who have contributed to a campaign and who those individuals are. Marquez used James Johnson, a former county commissioner, as an example. Johnson limited campaign contributions to $25 per individual, Marquez said, and received donations from many.”I think it says they have broad support, and I feel that’s important to people in the county to think that candidates have broad support,” she said. “Broad support is usually interpreted at the voting booth.” DeClark, the Republican candidate from Edwards, has pitched in more than $11,000 for his campaign. His largest donation to date was $2,500 from Suzanne Gallegos. Local attorney Bret Heckman and contractor Richard Nelson also have contributed to DeClark’s race against Democrat Peter Runyon for the District 1 seat representing eastern Eagle County. Runyon, also from Edwards, has collected $6,040 in contributions. Local residents Sandra Donnelly and Ellen Eaton have donated to his campaign, $500 and $200 respectively. His largest donation thus far was $1,000 from Pat McConathy. The lion’s share of donations for Runyon and DeClark have been for under $500. DeClark and Runyon are vying for the seat being vacated by Eagle County Commissioner Michael Gallagher, who is not running for re-election.Fund raising, while an important tool, does not take the place of getting to know voters, said Don Lemon, co-chairman of the county’s Republican party.”Certainly fund raising allows a candidate to do mailings,” Lemon said. “Mailings are expensive and with a county this size you are going to do a lot of mailings. It’s important, but that’s not a substitute for the personal contact with the public.”The race for the District 2 seat, which represents the middle half of the Eagle Valley, has been far less expensive so far. Commissioner Arn Menconi, a Democrat who is seeking re-election, has reported $5,048 in campaign donations. Most donations have been for $100 or less. Local real estate developer Harry Frampton, along with Christina Wright and Kathryn May, pitched in $1,000. Open space proponent George Wiegers also contributed $1,000. Republican candidate A.J. Johnson, the former sheriff, reported no new contributions since the last filing period in which he reported $3,625 raised. Notable contributors include Nottingham Ranch Company, which contributed $500, local rancher George Jouflas and Vail businessman William Jewitt, who donated $250 each. Unaffiliated candidate Buz Reynolds, Jr. reported no contributions for the second time. Reynolds, a contractor, has said he wants to fund the campaign on his own. Candidates may put as much of their own money into their own campaign as they want, said Lisa Duran, spokeswoman for the Colorado Secretary of State office. But candidates must report any and all contributions, even if they are funding their campaign entirely on their own, she said.
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado