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John Hickenlooper’s Senate fundraising outpaces presidential campaign

Former Colorado governor running to take on GOP Sen. Cory Gardner

Former Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper raised more than $2 million in the third fundraising quarter. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper raised more than $2 million in the third fundraising quarter. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat John Hickenlooper’s latest fundraising numbers show that the former Colorado governor has caught more attention from donors as a top candidate in a critical Senate race than when he was one of two dozen presidential contenders.

Hickenlooper raised $2.1 million in the more than five weeks he has been running to take on GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, his campaign announced Tuesday. That’s a faster fundraising rate than Hickenlooper posted as a presidential candidate, when four months of effort raised less than $3.2 million. The fundraising numbers were first reported by The Colorado Sun.

Hickenlooper jumped into the Senate race in late August, and his fundraising numbers reflect totals through Sept. 30. The figures do not include any transfers from his presidential campaign, a spokesperson confirmed. He ended the quarter with nearly $1.7 million on hand, and 95 percent of the contributions were $200 or less, his campaign said.

“Each and every person who chipped in recognizes that Colorado needs a new independent voice, a senator who reflects our values and will work to bring people together and get things done on issues that matter to Coloradans — like expanding access and controlling costs for health care, and tackling climate change head on,” Hickenlooper said in a statement.

The former governor’s fundraising was likely buoyed by an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“John Hickenlooper’s record-breaking fundraising haul is the latest sign that in Colorado and other key Senate battlegrounds, voters are eager to hold Republican senators accountable,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss.

Hickenlooper had previously said he did not want to be in the Senate, but in launching his Senate said, “This is no time to walk away from the table.” A handful of Colorado Democratic Senate candidates who were among the top fundraisers then dropped out of the race and backed Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper still has to contend with a crowded primary, however. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is still in the race, along with several other Democrats. Romanoff’s campaign chairwoman, Tara Trujillo, wrote in an email that the campaign would release his fundraising numbers on Oct. 15, the deadline for disclosure to the Federal Election Commission. As of June 30, Romanoff had raised more than $1 million and had $734,000 in his campaign account.

Gardner is one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans running for reelection in 2020. He is one of two GOP senators running in states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 — she carried Colorado by 5 points. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Colorado Senate race a Toss-Up.

Gardner is building up his own war chest as Hickenlooper has to contend with a primary. The first-term senator raised $2.45 million in the third quarter and ended the quarter with nearly $6.7 million on hand, according to his campaign. 

“Senator Gardner’s strongest fundraising quarter yet proves Gardner’s grassroots support continues to grow, and Coloradans want to reelect Cory Gardner because he delivers bipartisan results for this state,” Gardner’s campaign manager Casey Contres said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

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