Election 2018Hot Sheet

DeGette primary challenger Saira Rao tops 500 donors, six figures in under a month

Author: Ernest Luning - February 10, 2018 - Updated: February 11, 2018

Democrat Saira Rao, a candidate in Colorado’s 1st Congressional District, poses for a photograph at her Denver home on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. She’s mounting a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat serving her 11th term in Congress. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Saira Rao, a Denver Democrat, said Friday her campaign received contributions from more than 500 individual donors within a month of launching her primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, who is serving her 11th term representing Colorado’s 1st Congressional District.

“We are not taking any corporate PAC money,” Rao said in a statement. “Special interests are robbing people of their voices, and I am not going to play that game. We’re doing this the hard way — dollar by dollar, door by door.”

Rao filed paperwork to run in the heavily Democratic district on Jan. 10; her campaign logged its 500th donor on Wednesday, 28 days in, a campaign spokeswoman said. By late Thursday, the campaign counted 509 donors, she added.

Rao has cleared “six figures” in contributions, her campaign manager, JoyAnn Ruscha, told Colorado Politics, but she declined to elaborate.

Campaign finance reports covering the period are due to the Federal Election Commission April 15.

DeGette’s campaign reported raising just under $430,000 through the 4th Quarter of 2017, including just under $200,000 from individuals and $230,000 from political action committees. On Dec. 31, her campaign had about $66,000 cash on hand.

Rao, 43, is an attorney and co-founder of the media and publishing company In This Together Media.

Two other Democrats, David Sedbrook and Michelle Hudson Hale, are also running in the 1st District, which includes Denver, Glendale, Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village and parts of Jefferson County in the southwest metro area.

Three Republicans are campaigning for the seat — John Field, Jeremiah Vialpando and 2016 GOP nominee Casper Stockham.

Field was the only one of DeGette’s challengers to file a campaign finance report covering fundraising in 2017. His most recent report shows $100 total contributions for the year with $100 on hand Jan. 1.

Sedbrook told Colorado Politics his fundraising for the most recent quarter fell just shy of the $5,000 threshold that triggers a requirement to file a report. He said his campaign passed the mark in early January.

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.