Romanoff out-raises Coffman, despite eschewing PAC money

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]NDREW Romanoff, Democratic challenger in the race to represent the south-Denver Sixth Congressional District, out-raised incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman by more than $100,000 between April and June.

Romanoff now has $2.3 million to spend on the tight race, compared to Coffman’s $1.96 million.

Big fundraising numbers do two things: They give a campaign needed fuel and make a statement about candidate support and viability. In this case, they also advertise the feasibility of a fundraising strategy Romanoff has adopted and which has been criticized as unrealistic.

It’s rare for a challenger to out-raise an incumbent and it’s nearly unprecedented in a competitive race where the challenger has eschewed money from political action committees or PACs, as Romanoff has done. Indeed, 25 percent of the funds incumbent Coffman raised this quarter came from PACs, just over $86,000.

When Romanoff is out raising money at house parties — which is often, he has attended more than 130 so far — he likes to tell an anecdote about the power of PAC money in politics and why he’s the only challenger in the country in a tight congressional race to refuse anonymous corporate donations.

It goes like this: Romanoff was chatting with a voter at a fundraiser, a businessman who said he liked Romanoff’s values and supports his candidacy. The businessman makes a private donation to Romanoff’s campaign and then he makes an apology. He says his company is watching an approaching vote in the U.S. House that will influence business, so his company plans to cut a PAC check that will support the Coffman campaign.

“He’s not beholden to any special interest, just the people who elect him,” said Romanoff spokeswoman Denise Baron.

Look for a campaign ad along these lines to appear on your radio, TV or internet sometime soon.

[ Photo by Nikola Radoshevich ]

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