Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser tops quarterly fundraising haul for state candidates in Colorado

Author: Ernest Luning - July 19, 2017 - Updated: July 20, 2017

Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser mingles with the crowd at the Mizel Foundation's anual dinner on May 24, 2017, at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser mingles with the crowd at the Mizel Foundation’s anual dinner on May 24, 2017, at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Democrat Phil Weiser, a candidate for attorney general, raked in more contributions than any other state-level candidate in Colorado for the just-completed fundraising quarter — including candidates running in both parties’ primaries for governor — but one of his primary opponents said Tuesday it’s nothing to cheer about.

Weiser, a former dean of the CU Law School and a one-time Obama administration official, reported raising $355,535 in the three-month period ending June 30, putting his receipts ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy, a former state treasurer and deputy mayor of Denver, who posted $339,680 for the quarter.

Weiser’s total is more than any other attorney general candidate has raised in a non-election year since the imposition of strict campaign finance limits on state races more than a decade ago. It’s also more than all four of the other candidates for attorney general combined reported raising, including Republican incumbent Cynthia Coffman, who brought in the least of any of them.

Former state Sen. Mike Johnston, a Denver Democrat, was the only other state candidate to join Weiser and Kennedy with more than $300,000 raised, reporting $301,365 in contributions — a little less than half the $632,721 he took in for the 1st quarter, when he set a record of his own for off-year fundraising in a state race. (U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter reported raising $339,253 for the quarter but withdrew from the race last week.)

Democratic attorney general candidates Brad Levin, a Denver attorney, raised $117,102, followed by Jefferson County prosecutor Michael Dougherty, who raised $51,845, and state Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton, who reported $13,262. Coffman, who has also said she’s considering a run for governor, raised just $8,050 for the quarter. Taken together, those four candidate raised $190,259, a little more than half what Weiser raised.

“When I began this campaign, focusing on defending our constitutional rights, fighting for opportunities for all Coloradans, and protecting our land, air, and water, I did not know how people would respond,” Weiser told Colorado Politics after the last of the statewide candidates had posted their campaign finance reports on Tuesday. “After receiving tremendous support in our first seven weeks, I am energized, humbled, and inspired by the level of support we have received across Colorado.  To me, this support highlights that so many Coloradans are committed to electing an attorney general who will protect and advance our Colorado way of life during a challenging time for our state and nation.”

Salazar, however, cast a skeptical eye on Weiser’s distinction.

“I’ve run enough campaigns and races to know this is a marathon and not a sprint,” he told Colorado politics, adding that he’s been building up a volunteer base and that his fundraising has been picking up steam.

Salazar said he was “particularly interested and flabbergasted” at the amount of money Weiser raised from out-of-state donors. “‘The Colorado way of life’ is his motto, but apparently it’s being funded by East Coast money.”

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. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.