U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff at last announced his fundraising totals for the first quarter. An anonymous Colorado Statesman reporter posting at blogsite Colorado Pols late Monday night said campaign spokesman Roy Teicher reported the campaign raised $385,647 and spent $363,376 through March 31. The campaign reports $501,959 cash on hand.
Romanoff has proven a surprisingly weak fundraiser. The totals for the first quarter, although not embarrassing, remain unimpressive. He raised far less than incumbent opponent Sen. Michael Bennet, who raised nearly $1.5 million in the same quarter and has more than $3.5 million in the bank. Indeed, it’s hard to know what to make of the Romanoff totals and the spin coming from the campaign with their release.
Romanoff had almost no traction coming into the New Year. His campaign had floundered, turning over staffers and managers and raising little money. The candidate himself seemed to cast about for a message, feeding the idea that he was motivated more because he wanted the seat than by any vision or plan for Colorado constituents. But last month Romanoff, as predicted, won the caucus and seemed to somewhat find his legs. He turned over staff again, including replacing spokesman Dean Toda with the more practiced Teicher.
Teicher told the Statesman that the fundraising this quarter was meaningful beyond the raw figure. It was a strong quarter, he said but, more important, the figures also “tell the story of what’s going on right now in the campaign. Since the caucuses, the contributions have increased significantly. There’s a real turning point to be found in mid March, and that’s backed up by the contributions as well as the results of the caucuses themselves.”
Teicher said the cash raised in March totaled more than the amounts raised in January and February combined. In other words, the alleged “Romentum” coming from the caucuses is now backed up by campaign finance numbers.
Problem is the figures aren’t very high and it’s late in the game. In fact the figures are very low compared to Bennet’s figures and very low for a U.S. Senate race, in which winning candidates on both sides, Democrat and Republican, should expect to spend more than $10 million at least.
Also, there is an obvious comparison to be made with the Ken Buck candidacy on the Republican side. Weld County DA Buck is running chiefly against Jane Norton who, like Bennet, has tapped the “grasstops” donors, or reliable big money Party funders. But Buck has pulled all kinds of positive attention his way through the first quarter. Like Romanoff, he won the caucus straw poll in March, but he has also picked up key outsider and “national grassroots” endorsements that are now translating and will continue to translate into cash.
Third party conservative groups have paid for expensive Buck TV campaigns. The rough and ready popular RedState blogsite endorsed Buck early this year and its founder, Eric Erickson, a national figure with grassroots bona fides, wrote glowingly in favor of Buck. Then last week “new Republican” Tea Party favorite South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, endorsed Buck and pledged the financial support of the Conservative Senate Fund he founded with Erickson to focus on select races around the country.
Romanoff hasn’t matched Bennet but he hasn’t come close to matching Buck or Norton at this point, either.
The biggest news of the Romanoff campaign for the last ten months came just last week, when the Denver Post reported that a staffer photoshopped an African American woman into a crowdshot montage banner at the Romanoff website. It was a silly minor scandal badly handled that surely cost him in voter confidence and campaign donations.