The National Journal reports today that Jane Norton has already spent $243,000 on TV ads and that a lot of that has been spent in the weeks leading up to tonight’s caucus. Norton is battling back primary challenges from Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and former state Sen. Tom Wiens.
Buck’s candidacy seems to be gaining steam, partly on the ground, where he appears to be the preferred candidate of grassroots conservatives, and partly in the air, where he is benefiting from a $115,000 anti-Norton ad campaign bought by the Declaration Alliance, a group which reportedly supports Buck.
At the end of January, Buck similarly benefited from an expensive ad campaign paid for by a group called Campaign for Liberty.
The National Journal reports that Norton’s ad spending already amounts to more than a third of the money her campaign had in the bank at the end of the year.
Buck’s meager fourth quarter fundraising totals– a mere $40,000– had many political observers writing him off but Buck campaign manager Walt Klein, a veteran GOP strategy man, told the Colorado Independent he wasn’t concerned.
“That’s today’s story,” he said on the day the numbers came out. “That’s one piece of the puzzle. Look what’s happened since the first of the year. Follow the candidate on the trail, watch him in front of people and you see a story of a candidate gaining momentum. Ken Buck is the underdog in this race and he’s proud of it.”
Since then, in addition to winning the backing of the semi-mysterious Campaign for Liberty and the even more mysterious Declaration Alliance, Buck pulled down the endorsement of the founder of the influential right-wing blogsite RedState, Erick Erickson.
“There are two campaigns going on,” Klein told the Colorado Independent recently. “One that flows from the FEC reports and the one happening day to day. The candidates are showing up every day and making their case to the activist voters, who are the ones paying attention at this stage of the game. There are no reporters there. There’s virtually no coverage and that’s the part of the campaign that matters.”
The caucus tonight is a test mostly for the frontrunners and Norton is spending to win.