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    Saturday, April 20, 2024

    Boebert’s election switch is shifting money in Colo.’s two largest congressional districts

    U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a member of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in July in Washington. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

    The money train kept rolling for U.S. House hopeful Adam Frisch in the last quarter of 2023. But with erstwhile opponent Lauren Boebert leaving the 3rd Congressional District to run in the 4th, the fundraising dynamics across Colorado’s two largest districts are in for a shakeup.

    Boebert, the 3rd District’s incumbent, raised $540,000 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, according to her newly filed campaign finance report, part of her instant money advantage in the 4th District’s crowded Republican field.

    The new reports show that had Boebert continued to run for reelection to her current seat, she again would’ve been dwarfed by Frisch. The Democrat took in $2.9 million in during 2023’s fourth quarter, crushing Boebert’s fundraising, and he has more than $5 million on hand to Boebert’s nearly $1.3 million — money she’ll now use in the 4th.

    Meanwhile, the best-funded Republican remaining in the 3rd District race, Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, took in $262,000 in the final three months of last year. He had drawn local endorsements and some donors from Boebert late last year as she weathered embarrassments that included her ejection from the performance of the musical “Beetlejuice” in a Denver theater in September.

    Hurd’s campaign said he has more than a half million dollars on hand, but details from his latest report weren’t yet available. The next-highest GOP windfall in the 3rd District race went to Russ Andrews, who took in just over $31,000 in the fourth quarter.

    The deadline for reporting year-end fundraising totals to the Federal Election Commission was Wednesday.

    Boebert, now a resident of Windsor in the 4th District, announced on Dec. 27 that she would abandon her right-leaning Western Slope and southern Colorado seat to run for the even-redder 4th District, centered on Colorado’s Eastern Plains. The switch shook up Colorado’s political world and even sparked frustration among Republican colleagues.

    The 3rd had favored Republicans until Boebert’s controversies made it a razor-thin race with Frisch in 2022. Still unclear is whether he will have as much of a chance this fall, assuming he wins the Democratic nomination, without Boebert on the ballot.

    “We’ve always been proud that we’ve raised more money than she has,” Frisch said in an interview Thursday.

    But the former Aspen city councilman acknowledged that things had dramatically changed — though he maintains a high level of confidence in his “very effective finance team.”

    “We’re starting 2024 without Lauren Boebert but with a really good email list,” Frisch said. “Are we going to rack up as much money as we did in the last nine months in the next nine months? Who knows? It’s obviously a different ballgame.”

    Frisch received a boost this week when Democratic opponent and Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout announced that she was ending her campaign. She appeared to be his most formidable opponent in the June primary, though she badly lagged him in the money game.

    On the other side, Hurd campaign spokesman Nick Bayer said Republicans were starting to consolidate behind the candidate as “the only chance we have to keep the seat Republican.”

    “Jeff continues to lead the pack in grassroots support, fundraising, endorsements and voter outreach,” Bayer said. “He will be able to unify the party and independents in the district to take on the Democrats’ big money machine in Adam Frisch.”

    The money race in the 4th District

    In her new district, Boebert was able to carry over the money she raised in the 3rd District, becoming by far the leading fundraiser in the 4th District’s Republican primary, now a 10-way race, as soon as she stepped in.

    The next-closest is businessman Peter Yu, with $254,000 raised in the fourth quarter, though all but $4,100 of that came from a loan he made to his campaign. Conservative radio host Deborah Flora collected nearly $174,000, while former state lawmaker and current Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg reported nearly $155,000 raised.

    State Rep. Richard Holtorf, a rancher who lives near Akron, took in just over $112,000.

    But quarterly campaign finance comparisons in the 4th District are distorted by the fact that all of Boebert’s GOP competitors had at least a month less to raise money. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who has held the seat since 2015, announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection on Nov. 1.

    While Democrats will have a hard time competing in such a Republican-leaning district, John Padora had the biggest haul for his party in the fourth quarter — at just over $38,000. Ike McCorkle, who ran unsuccessfully against Buck in the last two elections, brought in less than $2,000 in contributions, though his campaign account had more than $163,000 as of September.

    GOP race to take on Caraveo

    In the evenly divided 8th Congressional District, which stretches from Denver’s northern suburbs to Greeley, incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo was top of the board, with $630,000 raised in the final quarter of 2023. She reported more than $1.3 million in cash on hand.

    On the Republican side, Air Force veteran Joe Andujo took in $220,000 in the fourth quarter, though almost all of that was a loan he made to the campaign. State Rep. Gabe Evans raised $170,000 during the period while Weld County Commissioner Scott James landed $40,000.

    In the Colorado Springs-centered 5th Congressional District, Rep. Doug Lamborn announced last month that he wouldn’t seek reelection, setting off a scramble by Republicans that isn’t yet reflected in fundraising reports.

    The rest of Colorado’s congressional districts — the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th — are held by Democratic incumbents and are considered less competitive in this year’s election.

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