After failing to out-raise her Democratic opponent throughout most of the last six months, Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave‘s fundraising hit overdrive in the final week of the election.
In fact, during the last six days, Musgrave has collected $85,050 in donations, nearly twice as much as her opponent, Democrat Betsy Markey, who collected $47,050 during the same period, according to FEC campaign finance reports both campaigns filed this week.
By federal law, campaigns are required to disclose all donations larger than $1,000 in the final days of the election. FEC documents show Musgrave, who failed to out-raise Markey during the last three campaign finance filing periods, has brought in large donations primarily from conservative political action committees and other Republican members of Congress. Markey, who has enjoyed more fundraising success than any other Democrat to challenge Musgrave for the 4th Congressional District seat, also received large donations from Democratic incumbent members of Congress as well as progressive political action committees.
“It may be like a year-end house cleaning,” said Colorado State University political science professor John Straayer. “You got some left over bucks, you shoot it over to another campaign. Impact? Well, always some, I suppose, but with so many already voted, others with minds made up, and with voter fatigue with ads, I am not inclined to see a huge impact.”
Markey outraised Musgrave by a 2-1 margin during the first two weeks of October, according to campaign finance records filed with the FEC last week. Markey, a former Senate staffer, raised an average of $25,546 per day between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, far outpacing Musgrave, who collected $10,001 per day during the same period.
The fundraising to Musgrave from other members of Congress this late in the game is somewhat surprising considering that the National Republican Congressional Committee pulled $400,000 in TV airtime out of the race during the final week, and that a leaked GOP “death list” of seats the party believes are lost or are close to lost includes Musgrave’s name.
The race between Musgrave and Markey has become extraordinarily negative in recent weeks, kicking into high gear after Musgrave’s campaign released a new ad that implies Markey could face jail time for contracts her family business, Syscom Systems, received after Markey became employed with Sen. Ken Salazar’s office. After the ad went up, Salazar called Musgrave “an agent of hate,” and Markey has called for a public apology.
Markey’s campaign has thrown its own mud at Musgrave, running negative ads throughout the campaign. It has also tried to link Musgrave to a convicted executive at Spectrum Marketing Services Inc., a firm Musgrave paid $30,200 for production of yard signs, campaign brochures and business cards.
The latest FEC filings don’t include independent expenditures from outside groups, which historically have been a factor in 4th CD elections. In fact, outside groups have kicked in nearly $2 million this year, primarily for negative campaign ads against Musgrave. The environmental group Defenders of Wildlife has already spent more than $1.4 million for a negative advertising blitz against Musgrave, and smaller buys were made by VoteVets.org and the 527 group Majority Action. In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has poured more than $650,000 into the race in recent weeks, including media buys throughout the last seven days.
A recent analysis by The Fort Collins Coloradoan showed political parties and interest groups have spent more than $3.6 million in the 4th CD this year, the third-highest rate of any House district in the country.