Money race is on for Colorado’s Senate seat |

Money race is on for Colorado’s Senate seat

Associated Press Writer

DENVER – Sen. Michael Bennet maintains a pile of cash for his first election effort, but a pack of Republicans and even a fellow Democrat are gaining on the interim GOP senator.

Bennet, who was appointed earlier this year to fill the seat of current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is expected to report raising more than $1 million in the last fiscal quarter in campaign finance reports that are due Thursday. That brings his haul to more than $3.6 million since taking office.

Bennet’s brisk fundraising pace puts him ahead of his many challengers. But the race has gotten more complicated since the last campaign disclosure.

Bennet had the primary field to himself until last month, when a popular former state House speaker mounted a challenge.

Andrew Romanoff of Denver was considered a likely pick when Salazar’s seat came open early this year, but he was passed over in favor of Bennet, who was superintendent of Denver Public Schools but has never run for public office.

Romanoff’s entry, and the prospect of a pricey primary battle, led ruling Democrats to rally around Bennet. President Barack Obama last month endorsed Bennet, who advised him on education policy during Obama’s presidential campaign. And ruling Democrats in the Senate recently appointed Bennet to a plum committee seat formerly held by Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

But many Colorado Democrats lined up to support Romanoff. He says he’ll report raising more than $250,000. Romanoff is telling Democratic donors he’s the home-grown candidate, not a White House favorite.

“I’ve dedicated most of my adult life to the state of Colorado,” Romanoff said.

Republicans are also taking swipes at the incumbent.

The top Republican fundraiser so far is former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who raised about $550,000 last quarter.

Norton said she’s talking not about her five Republican challengers but about Bennet. Norton said Bennet’s closeness with Obama is an easy sell for getting support from conservative donors.

“Coloradans deserve somebody that’s not going to be a rubber stamp for the administration,” she said.

Another Republican in the race – Weld County district attorney Ken Buck – did not release fundraising total in advance of the federal deadline. Another Republican running, Aurora city councilman Ryan Frazier, did not return calls about his third quarter, but The Denver Post on Tuesday said he may be considering leaving the Senate race to take on a Democratic member of the House.

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