State House and Senate races starting to add up, dollar-wise

Colorado State Capitol dome

Updated: to include statement from Colorado Education Association on why they endorsed Republican Katy Brown in House District 3 over her Democratic opponent, Jeff Bridges.

Democratic candidates for statewide office have taken the advantage in 2016 in fundraising, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

Tuesday marked a deadline for updating contribution information with the Secretary of State’s office. Disclosures show that Democrats now lead with close to $3.2 million in donations. Republican candidates have taken in about $1.8 million.

Those numbers reflect fundraising for state House and Senate races, county commissioner contests, state Board of Education and University of Colorado Board of Regent races.

What’s at stake this year: control of the state House and Senate. Democrats hold a three-seat lead, 34 to 31, in the state House. Roughly nine seats are considered competitive and could change who controls the House. In the Senate, Republicans have a one-seat lead, with three seats considered competitive, and that could decide which party controls the Senate.

Related: Zenzinger v. Woods state Senate race heats up

While the top race for fundraising is in Laura Woods’ Senate District 19 (Arvada/Westminster), a close second is the Senate District 26 race that encompasses part of Arapahoe County, including Englewood, Greenwood Village and Littleton. Democratic Rep. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village leads his Republican opponent, Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty by about $40,000. But Doty has more cash on hand – $92,590 to Kagan’s $87,680 – heading into the election season’s final two months. The two have now collectively raised $313,772.

The Senate race between Republican Rep. Kevin Priola of Henderson and Democratic former Rep. Jenise May of Aurora is nearing the quarter-million-dollar mark, with a total of $245,919 raised between the two candidates. May, whose background is in human services, leads Priola in fundraising, with $130,952 raised to Priola’s $114,996. Priola’s contributions include $11,000 transferred from his House campaign account.

With just two months left before Election Day, Priola, who owns a real estate company in Henderson, has spent less, and has $88,529 on hand – $35,000 more than May.

In the House, the biggest fundraising battle is in southwestern Colorado’s District 59. The candidates are incumbent Republican Rep. J. Paul Brown, a sheep herder from Ignacio, and Democrat Barbara McLachlan of Durango. The two have collectively raised $216,486, with McLachlan, a retired teacher, holding a slight edge.

The contest between Democrat Jeff Bridges of Greenwood Village and Republican Katy Brown, also of Greenwood Village, in House District 3 has raised just a few thousand dollars less.

The two have raised a total of $209,608, but much of that was spent by both candidates in their contested primary races. 

Bridges, whose background includes working for both former U.S. Rep. John Salazar and former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar when they were in Congress, has raised $57,164 since June 22, the last reporting period prior to the June 28 primary. Brown, a small business owner who specializes in web development for the tourism industry, has taken in $37,796.

In an unusual twist, Brown is at the receiving end of contributions from teacher unions. The Public Education Committee, which is backed by the Colorado Education Association, has contributed $4,850. The Fund for Educational Progress, which is housed in the same building as the Aurora Education Association, kicked in the same amount. The Aurora Council for Teachers and Parents, also housed with the Aurora Education Association, put in $2,000.

CEA President Kerrie Dallman told The Colorado Independent this week that Brown won their endorsement because of her willingness to partner with teachers and school support staff to improve opportunities for students. “Our members interview candidates before making an endorsement and found Katy to be the superior candidate in this race, very strong on the public education issues that matter the most to our 37,000 members across Colorado.”

Bridges’ largest donation since June 22 is $5,000 from the state Democratic Party. He has also received money from pro-choice, conservation groups and trade unions, but not from teachers’ unions.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.