Show Me the (Q2) Money – Part II

The second quarter fundraising period ends on Saturday, and now that Colorado has a larger slate of candidates, it’s worth taking a look at the money expectations (click here for the first part of this series).

For the first time in a long time Democrats are going to have a primary for the right to take on Republican incumbent Marilyn Musgrave. After spending millions of dollars to defend Musgrave in 2004 and 2006, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is no doubt hoping Musgrave raises a lot of money on her own. Musgrave brought in $266,000 in Q1 of this year, and the more money she raises early, the less likely it is that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will have CD-4 on its target list next summer. Musgrave has worked hard to change her image in recent months, and if she can start raising big money, she may have an easier time at re-election than she ever has.

On the Democratic side, 2006 candidate Angie Paccione needs to prove that she can raise money in the midst of a primary. Paccione raised a good amount of money in 2006, but much of that came in to her campaign not because of who she was but because of who she was running against; because of Musgrave’s strong conservative background, including her anti-gay rights rhetoric, any candidate who opposed her in 2006 would have been heavily funded. Paccione has an advantage of better name recognition than Betsy Markey in a Democratic primary, and if she can raise a good amount of money, it will help establish her as a favorite to win the nomination.

Markey made a strong entry into the CD-4 race last month with several high-profile endorsements, and a strong fundraising start to her campaign will certainly give her momentum among national interest groups. In a Democratic primary, Markey will probably need to outspend Paccione in order to counter the latter’s name ID in the district, so every dollar is going to be important. Perhaps most important for Markey is that she establish herself as a solid contender by showing that she has the fundraising chops to compete at a high level. Markey had a late start here, but anything near $100,000 would be impressive.

Incumbent Doug Lamborn essentially won this seat last summer when he emerged from a bitter six-way Republican primary, but bad feelings still linger from that race. Lamborn raised only $75,000 in the first quarter, and he needs to start really bringing in the cash if he is going to dissuade potential primary challengers like Jeff Crank in 2008. If Lamborn has another weak fundraising quarter, it will only encourage a primary; conversely, a few quarters of $250,000 could be enough to scare away a top challenger. If Lamborn reports a weak Q2 – anything less than $100,000 – then expect to hear more buzz coming out of Colorado Springs about another GOP primary.

Democrat Ed Perlmutter won this seat last fall by a surprisingly wide margin, and he sent a clear message by raising $267,000 in the first quarter of this year. It’s no coincidence that CD-7, which last year was one of the hottest seats in the country, didn’t make the early “protect” list for the DCCC. Perlmutter’s big victory in 2006 combined with a continued strong fundraising performance will likely scare away any serious Republican challengers in 2008. Perlmutter seems to be taking a page out of the John Salazar playbook, when the Western Slope Democrat brought in more than $1 million in 2005 in his first year in office and effectively kept a top GOP challenger from emerging. If Perlmutter keeps up a $250,000 per quarter pace through the rest of 2007, he should only see token opposition on the ballot in 2008.