Former Obama administration U.S. Ambassador Dan Baer raised more than $300,000 in two weeks since entering the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Colorado Politics has learned.
The Baer campaign confirmed the impressive fundraising haul, though it said that it has not yet analyzed where the money is coming from. Baer said only a handful of donations came from phone calls, and the rest have come from email and social media efforts.
“It’s been a mix of people,” Baer told Colorado Politics on Wednesday.
The fundraising effort eclipses three other Democrats who have been running in the primary for months, including state Sens. Andy Kerr of Lakewood and Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood.
Kerr, Moreno and Pettersen combined for $358,000 in their first financial reporting periods, though more money has been raised since those numbers were reported at the end of the last quarter.
Pettersen topped the first fundraising period for the race, with more than $170,000. Her campaign said fundraising was restricted by her work in the legislature this year, with more than 80 percent of donations coming after the conclusion of the legislative session in May.
Kerr raised more than $104,000 in his first fundraising period. Kerr said 88 percent of the total he raised was accomplished after the legislative session ended in May.
Moreno, who had just five weeks left in the fundraising quarter since jumping into the race at the end of May, raised nearly $85,000.
The three campaigns highlighted that much of their money came from individual donors within Colorado. Supporters of Kerr, Moreno and Pettersen have privately commented that Baer benefits from a wealthy national network.
“I am not independently wealthy,” Baer responded.
A Colorado native who previously served as a U.S. ambassador under President Obama, Baer moved to Arvada after President Trump took office.
Much of the fundraising efforts in the 7th Congressional District for Democrats has been hampered by recent news that Perlmutter is reconsidering whether to run for re-election. Some financial supporters are withholding donations as they wait to see what Perlmutter will do.
A $300,000 start in just two weeks offers Baer a bit of comfort. He must still battle name recognition in Jefferson and Adams counties.
The Republican field for the seat is still developing, though no competitive candidates have yet entered the race, despite the somewhat politically mixed nature of the district.
Baer said his campaign launch video – a “bootstrap” effort, as he described it – helped kickoff fundraising efforts. The video features his work as an ambassador, taking a tough stance on Russia, while also fighting for people to “pursue happiness.”
Born in Denver, Baer grew up in the western suburbs of the city. Before serving as a U.S. ambassador – which began in 2013 – Baer advised corporations and nonprofits as a project leader at the Boston Consulting Group.
He also taught business ethics during the financial crisis, and served in the State Department during the Obama Administration.
Obama tapped Baer to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where he was responsible for implementation of arms control agreements, addressing international conflicts, and working on human rights issues.
Baer, a 40-year-old candidate, is married to Brian Walsh, an environmental economist who advises the World Bank.
Baer said he was “stunned by the response” to his campaign launch video and social media efforts. A former professor at Georgetown University, the Democrat said he has seen contributions from former students, from colleagues he worked with at the State Department, and from other colleagues “who saw me in action in the Obama administration.”
“It’s been both within Colorado and across the country, I’ve been really touched,” Baer said of the contributions.
Shad Murib, campaign manager for Kerr, responded, “We look forward to seeing how many of his donors are from the district or the state of Colorado.”
The Moreno and Pettersen campaigns declined to comment.
When asked about the impressive fundraising haul, Baer said, “Money is necessary but not sufficient to run a good campaign.”
He added, “We have to make democracy deliver. I believe that the first step in solving problems, or the first step in addressing problems, is understanding them… I think it is right and proper that I spend several months listening before I start opining on situations. I am focused on spending as many hours of every day as I can either listening to voters or making sure that I’ll have the resources in place.
“The other thing that people have told me, ‘The only way you can win as an outsider in Colorado is if you’re able to self-fund.’ What I have asked people to do so far is invest in this campaign and invest in a different approach to the moment that we’re in.”