With the roster of candidates in the 2018 Colorado attorney general’s race all but set, Democrat Phil Weiser maintained his wide fundraising lead last quarter, eclipsing all of his four in-party rivals and amassing a war chest that Republican George Brauchler — the only GOP challenger — will be hard-pressed to match.
But with the Republican Attorney General’s Association already wading into the contest in his support, calling the race a national priority, Brauchler is likely to get significant backing beyond his own coffers.
Weiser, a former dean of the University of Colorado Law School and an ex-Obama administration official, hauled in more than $280,000 between Oct. 1 and the end of last year. He spent roughly $45,000 during that span, leaving him with nearly $900,000 cash on hand heading into 2018.
By comparison, Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney who left the Colorado governor’s race in November to run for attorney general, reported raising a little more than $215,000 during that span — about $120,000 of which was rolled over from his now-abandoned gubernatorial campaign.
He spent some $10,000 and had roughly $205,000 cash on hand heading into the new year.
Brauchler’s haul, while sizable and more than what incumbent Attorney General Cynthia Coffman had at the same point during the 2014 election cycle, isn’t staggering, considering he is his party’s sole candidate. It could again raise questions about his ability to fundraise and what resources will be needed moving forward — doubts which dogged him in the governor’s race.
Brauchler didn’t get into the attorney general’s contest until incumbent Coffman announced she was wading into the crowded governor’s race.
The two eventually traded places, a drawn-out process that gave Democrats — namely Weiser, who has exceeded $1 million in fundraising since announcing his candidacy in May — a monthslong head start on amassing funds. Brauchler, shortly after switching races, even said on 9News that Democrats had “been printing their own money in their garage, I mean that’s how much money they’ve been raising.”
But the Republican Attorney General’s Association doesn’t appear to be worried.
“He will have the resources needed to win in November,” Scott Will, RAGA’s executive director, said in a statement.
Denver attorney and Democrat Brad Levin raised about $64,000 in the last four months of 2017, spending roughly $75,000 and reporting just under $150,000 cash on hand heading into 2018. Levin’s campaign says he is trying to get on the ballot through the petition process.
Photo courtesy of Michael Dougherty
Denver Post file
Former state and federal prosecutor Amy Padden, another Democrat, raised about $41,000 over the quarter, spending $10,209 and reporting $92,130 cash on hand to start out the year.
Her format to collect signatures to get on the ballot has been approved by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office (as has Weiser’s, though he is exploring the caucus and assembly process as well).
Padden said she, too, is exploring whether to pursue the caucus and assembly process, thought her campaign has begun the petition process.
Michael Dougherty, a Democrat who is a prosecutor for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, raised just about $19,000, while spending $31,000. He reported having $57,000 cash on hand at the end of the quarter.
Dougherty has sought to downplay fundraising in the race — “this race isn’t about who has the most money or political connections,” he said in a recent statement — and is planning to try to get on the ballot through the Democrat’s caucus and assembly process.
Among those at the bottom of the fundraising pack again was state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, who raised some $24,000 but spent $27,536, leaving him with just under $9,000 heading into 2018. Salazar — whose campaign slogan is “Can’t be bought, Can’t be bullied” — did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.