Democrat Jena Griswold busts fundraising record for Colorado secretary of state candidates

Author: Ernest Luning - October 17, 2017 - Updated: October 18, 2017

Democrat Jena Griswold is announcing she's running for Colorado secretary of state on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (Photo courtesy Jena Griswold campaign)Democrat Jena Griswold is announcing she’s running for Colorado secretary of state on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (Photo courtesy Jena Griswold campaign)

Democratic secretary of state candidate Jena Griswold on Monday reported bringing in a record-setting $86,304 in campaign donations for the just-completed quarter — more than any candidate for the Colorado office has raised during a quarter in an off-year or for any candidate’s initial quarter in the race.

Griswold, a 32-year-old attorney and first-time candidate, raised more for the quarter ending Sept. 30 than the total $79,606 Republican incumbent Wayne Williams has raked in all year. Williams reported raising $24,000 during the most recent quarter and had $48,046 on hand after spending $7,246.

After spending $8,975, Griswold, who launched her campaign in July, had $77,328 in the bank for the 3rd quarter.

“I am grateful for the support we have received from voters throughout Colorado,” Griswold said in a statement. “I am running for secretary of state to increase campaign finance transparency, secure our elections and protect voting rights. We need a secretary of state who will stand up to Donald Trump and stand up for Colorado.”

Her campaign noted that Griswold counted 609 individual contributors with an average donation of $123, compared with the 58 individual contributors averaging $406 donations reported by Williams.

A spokesman for the Williams campaign, however, dismissed Griswold’s numbers as meaningless when it comes to next year’s election.

“Fully two-thirds of Griswold’s large contributions come from out of state, while Williams’ report shows the same thing as his election in 2014: the support of regular Coloradans,” Daniel Cole said, noting he was referring to contributions of $1,000 and up. “And ultimately, regular Coloradans are more powerful than Griswold’s out-of-state donors, because we can vote in Colorado’s elections.”

The previous records for an initial or off-year quarter for a secretary of state candidate were also set by Democrats, although Colorado voters haven’t elected a Democrat as secretary of state since 1958.

The Democrat Williams defeated in 2014 held the distinction before Griswold, when Joe Neguse — a Democratic candidate for Congress this year — reported raising $74,136 during the 3rd quarter of 2013. The previous record haul was set by Democrat Bernie Buescher in the 4th quarter of 2009, when he raised $64,174. He went on to lose to Republican Scott Gessler in the 2010 election.

Another Democrat in the race, Gabriel McArthur, reported raising $94. After spending $112, he finished the quarter $18 in the hole. At press time late Monday, two other Democrats who have filed to run for the seat — Phillip Villard and Jerold Munster — had yet to file campaign finance reports.

Quarterly campaign finance reports for state candidates are due to the secretary of state by midnight Monday.

UPDATED: This story has been updated to include a comment from a Williams campaign spokesman.

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.