An under-the-hood look at where the money goes in the races for governor

Author: Paula Noonan - August 24, 2017 - Updated: August 24, 2017

Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Usually, large campaign expenditures occur in election years.  But in 2017 candidates for Colorado governor from both parties are lining up their campaign consulting firms and spending loads of money now. Voters should brace themselves for the deluge.

Entrepreneur Victor Mitchell, a self-funder, has already sent out a multipage epic to introduce himself to GOPers. He’s picked Go Big Media as his outreach firm with a $73,000 investment.  Former state legislators Al White, Dan Marostica, and Steve Durham, now on the State Board of Education, have added to Mitchell’s $15,676 in individual contributions. He’s loaned his campaign $3,002,700.97.

George Brauchler, district attorney in Arapahoe County, has Jeff and Lis Coors, David and Bonnie Mandarich, and prominent Jeffco politico and candy magnate Rick Enstrom among his contributors.  In a July New Yorker article about Colorado Trump supporters, Brauchler was quoted telling fellow Republicans, “I’m not a rich guy.”  He’s brought in $183,398 so far.

Doug Robinson, a Mitt Romney relative and a rich guy, has garnered $207,532 with a $57,022 loan. He’s hooked up with Strategic Partners Media from Maryland.  No surprise, the company’s principal client is Mitt Romney. Robinson has spent $90,000 so far, with over $30,000 to Strategic Partners.

Walker Stapleton, Colorado state treasurer, hasn’t formally joined the GOP race, but he has $21,273 in his coffers.  When he ran for treasurer, he used Red Print Strategy as his principal media firm. He won a close race against Cary Kennedy, a Democrat also running for governor. Stapleton has already held off-the-books fundraisers so he clearly intends to pick up enough money to compete with Mitchell and Robinson.

If Attorney General Cynthia Coffman jumps into the GOP governor’s primary, she’ll have a lot of catching up to do.  She has $32,267.59 on hand for her AG race. When she ran in 2014, she had about $135,000, so her fundraising was modest.  In 2014 she sent $85,000 to Mentzer Media Services for media buys. Maybe she has the formula for how to run for statewide office on the cheap.

Dem Cary Kennedy is no fundraising chump.  She’s gathered $339,680 already and hired local company 4Degre.es, a firm with plenty of local Democratic clients, including the former candidate for governor Ed Perlmutter. She’s paid over $30,000 to get started.

Even so, Kennedy has lots more money calls to make.  Former state Sen. Michael Johnston has $933,040 from contributors across the nation.  He’s placed $30,000 with 270 Strategies, a firm out of the Obama world. The company takes on “clients who are committed to changing the world,” so Johnston obviously has bigly aspirations for Colorado.

Businessman Noel Ginsburg has $245,164 in total, including a $100,000 loan.  He’s picked local firm Black Diamond Outreach to kick off his campaign.  Steve Adams, Cory Nadler and Mike O’Connell have managed numerous state initiative campaigns and GOTV activities.  Their expertise is in door-to-door walking.  “BDO was founded with that sole mission,” with an emphasis on sole.

US Congressman and multi-millionaire Jared Polis won’t have a problem keeping up with Democrat Ginsburg or any of the wealthy GOP entrepreneurs. Right now he’s showing $273,812.25 in the pot with no loans. He just straight up gave his campaign $250,000.  He’s placed $34,570 with Boulder Strategies, a self described exclusive media company with Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter, Domenick Moreno, and Jeff Bridges, current state representative, as principal clients.

In the past, TV and radio stations and printers had to watch their cash flow in off election years.  Not so anymore.  Lucky them and not so lucky the rest of us.

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.