Election 2018News

DeGette primary challenger Rao tops $250,000 in 1st-quarter fundraising

Author: Ernest Luning - April 2, 2018 - Updated: April 4, 2018

Democratic congressional candidate Saira Rao (Courtesy photo)

DENVER — Saira Rao, the Denver Democrat mounting a primary challenge against 11-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, will report raising just over $250,000 for the quarter that ended Saturday, her first in the race, Colorado Politics has learned.

Rao’s campaign said she received contributions from more than 950 individual donors since launching her campaign in January and hasn’t taken any money from corporate political action committees. She plans to report roughly $170,000 on hand at the end of March.

“This campaign is about bringing people together. I’m proud of the coalition we’re building of Democrats and independents who want a more representative government,” Rao said in a statement.

“If Democrats are going to take back Congress, we need to build a party that answers to everyday people, not corporations. We can’t fight Trump’s anti-worker agenda if the same donors are funding both parties.”

Rao learned last week that she submitted enough valid signatures on nominating petitions to land a spot on the June 26 primary ballot.

The first-time candidate is a co-founder of the media and publishing company In This Together Media. If elected, the daughter of Indian immigrants would be the first woman of color sent to Congress from Colorado and one of the few Asian-Americans ever to hold office in the state.

DeGette, who was first elected to the heavily Democratic 1st Congressional District in 1996, has raised just under $430,000 for her reelection bid — roughly $200,000 from individuals and $230,000 from political action committees — through the end of last year, according to FEC reports. For the quarter ending Dec. 31, DeGette reported raising $121,465 and had $65,984 on hand.

The deadline for congressional candidates to file campaign finance reports covering the first quarter is April 15.

DeGette faced a rare primary challenge in the last election from geologist Charles Norris, a Bernie Sanders supporter. Norris reported raising $25 during his campaign’s initial quarter and brought in $14,275 total. DeGette won the primary with 86 percent of the vote and went on to defeat Republican nominee Casper Stockham by 40 points.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.