Heading into a closely watched 2016 reelection campaign, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet has more cash on hand than any Democratic congressional candidate in the country. His campaign raised more than $2 million in the fundraising quarter that ended March 31, with more than 80 percent of his donors giving $100 or less.
Cory Gardner’s victory over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall generated momentum that Republicans hope to carry through to 2016, but, as of now, Republicans are scrambling to find someone to square off against Bennet.
El Paso County Commissioner Daryl Glenn announced his candidacy in January, but his brand of Christian constitutional conservatism is widely regarded as a hard sell in a statewide election.
Several big names announced they won’t be gunning for the seat.
Chief among them was Rep. Mike Coffman who ducked out last month, announcing he’ll seek reelection in his own district instead.
His wife Cynthia — the new state attorney general and top vote-getter in the GOP — was also the subject of Senate speculation, but her prospects have been all but swallowed by allegations that she orchestrated a coup against state GOP chair Steve House.
State Senate president Ellen Roberts of Durango also passed on the chance to unseat Bennet in 2016, telling The Denver Post that the “hurdle of immediate, massive fundraising” was the biggest deterrent.
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler’s name has also been floated by GOP insiders, though he hasn’t made any indication about whether he’ll step up to the plate. Right now, he’s busy trying to get James Holmes sentenced to death in the high-profile Aurora movie theater trial.
Democratic party spokesman Andrew Zucker says uncertainty within the GOP is playing to Bennet’s favor. “They’re dealing with fallout from the blackmail scandal, and as their top choices continue to pass on the Senate race, Michael is in a strong position heading into 2016.”
“At this point in 2013, Colorado Democrats were just as smug about Mark Udall’s chances of winning reelection; we all saw how that turned out,” said Steve House, chair of the Colorado GOP, in an email. “The fact is that Michael Bennet has the same failed record as Mark Udall. Colorado Republicans will put forward a strong candidate to take on Michael Bennet and his legacy as President Obama’s favorite rubberstamp, and we will win in 2016.”
Bennet’s campaign manager Dan McNally said in a release Monday that the fundraising figures bode well. “We’re confident we’ll have the resources we need to build a strong grassroots campaign for 2016.”
Photo credit: City Year, Creative Commons, Flickr.
Correction July 15, 2015: The original article stated that Michael Bennet was Colorado’s junior Senator. He is the state’s senior Senator.