Democratic state Senate President Brandon Shaffer, who is running fpr Congress against freshman Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado’s Fourth District, reported today that he pulled down $112,000 from more than 600 donors in the final quarter of 2011. The report comes as news circulates that Shaffer is testing the waters in the state’s Sixth Congressional District.
Both districts were altered significantly through redistricting last year. Sprawling rural CD4 was made into an even more reliably conservative district while CD6 in the Denver Metro area was transformed from a Republican stronghold into one of the nation’s prime tossup districts, a plum Democrats have been salivating over for months. Shaffer is only one of a rotating and so far fairly haphazard collection of would-be candidates itching to run at CD6 incumbent Mike Coffman, a well-known elected official who has held repeat state offices and who at this early stage in the election cycle controls a nearly $1 million war chest.
Shaffer, a resident of Longmont, has raised $292,000 total since he announced roughly a year ago he planned to run against Gardner.
Gardner swept into office on the Tea Party wave of 2010 and his record matches those of the most far-right Republicans in Congress. He has, for example, voted for the slew of controversial anti-abortion bills introduced last year and he has championed oil and gas development interests by spearheading efforts to gut environmental regulations, even longstanding laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act put into place in the 1970s during the administration of Republican Richard Nixon. In June, Gardner introduced his Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011, which would open up for drilling pristine and largely unstudied Arctic Ocean regions off Alaska’s shores. His record has led Fort Collins-based Clean Water Action to label him the most anti-environmental representative ever sent to Congress from Colorado.
But that pro-drilling record has also made him a magnet for corporate campaign cash. Gardner hauled down a whopping $371,312 in the third quarter of last year, topping his second-quarter take by more than $70,000 to bring his total at the time to $896,176. Large percentages of that money was donated by oil and gas companies or by individuals and organizations tied to the oil and gas industry.
Gardner has yet to announce his take for the fourth quarter but he is sure to announce at least two times as much as Shaffer has raised and likely much more than that. The reporting deadline is January 31.
On the record, at least, Shaffer seems unfazed, sticking to a line he has repeated since he began campaigning in the Fourth District. He told the Colorado Independent last year that Gardner has misread the district’s residents, whom he said are looking not for hard-line ideologues but for problem-solvers who can balance priorities.
“People are angry at the extreme politics in Washington. I don’t know this just because of the media. I know this from conversations I’m having at doors. They’re angry and that’s not going away,” he said. “Gardner has sided with anti-environmental radicals time and time again. We’re all in favor of streamlining red tape, but people understand there has to be balance.”
In the release announcing the fourth quarter totals, Shaffer restated his commitment to the race using the same kind of language.
“Wherever I go, I hear the same thing—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are frustrated with Washington, D.C., and for good reason. I will continue to work hard at the grassroots level and spread the message that Congress needs a new outlook and new leaders, because we just can’t afford another Congress like this one. More than ever, we need to bring real Colorado solutions to Washington, D.C.”