In Colorado, attack ads hit your mailbox the same week as ballots: Who’s slinging the poo?

With ballots hitting mailboxes this week across Colorado three weeks until the June 26 primary elections, outside groups are targeting voters with advertisements in the mail, on TV, and through the radio waves.

And not all of them are of the positive variety.

In the Democratic primary for governor, a Super PAC-style group called Teachers for Kennedy is taking shots via mail pieces at Boulder Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and with internet ads against Polis and former State Sen. Michael Johnston.

Meanwhile, a similar group backing State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is going after businessman Victor Mitchell on the GOP side.

And in the treasurer’s race, a Super PAC-style group supporting Republican state Rep. Justin Everett is taking swings at his two opponents in internet ads.

Outside groups must report independent spending within 48 hours in the 30 days before the primary election.

Who’s slinging the poo?

Teachers for Kennedy reported spending $200,600 on a TV ad and more than $30,000 on internet ads supporting former Treasurer Cary Kennedy in the governor’s race, while opposing Polis and Johnston. The group also reported spending more than $44,000 on mailers opposing Polis. Those mailers accuse Polis of supporting vouchers for private schools and point out he is spending millions of his own money on his campaign. Polis denies the former claim. The state-level PAC is funded by teachers unions, a federal Super PAC affiliated with Emily’s List, and a state Super PAC aimed at electing Democratic women.

Related: Gloves off as modest contrasts roil the Democratic primary for Colorado governor

A group called Real Colorado Conservatives reported spending nearly $107,000 on mailers opposing Mitchell.

Funded by Better Colorado Now and run by the same political operative, the group received $150,000 from Real Colorado Conservatives on May 30. It’s the same group that created a nasty website aimed at Attorney General Cynthia Coffman before the April GOP assembly, where Coffman was kept off the ballot. The group originally said in paperwork it filed with the state that it opposed “Cynthia Coffman and every Democratic candidate for governor.” Coffman has now been replaced with Mitchell.

A group called Colorado Liberty PAC reported spending $1,440 on internet ads supporting Everett and opposing state GOP Rep. Polly Lawrence and businessman Brian Watson in the Republican primary for treasurer.

Victor Mitchell appears to be the only actual gubernatorial candidate campaign going negative with his whimsical cartoon ad attacking Stapleton for being part of the Bush dynasty. On Monday, Mitchell’s campaign released a much tougher ad against Stapleton, accusing him of lying. Candidates don’t have to report specifics on their spending beyond periodic reports.

Who’s keeping it positive?

The Sierra Club’s independent spending committee is sending more than $71,000 worth of mailers supporting Polis. The group didn’t have much money two weeks ago, but we should know more soon.

As we reported last week, Coloradans for Fiscal Responsibility is spending nearly $50,000 on TV ads in Colorado Springs supporting Stapleton. The group hadn’t reported any recent contributions, but a filing is due today.

Justice Colorado paid nearly $47,000 for radio ads supporting Democratic attorney general candidate Phil Weiser in his contest against state Rep. Joe Salazar. That group’s biggest donors are Chad Asarch, a real estate professional, and James Taylor, a Denver retiree, who each gave $10,000.

A group called A Strong Colorado spent nearly $10,000 on radio ads supporting Republican state Sen. Ray Scott, who faces a challenge from state Rep. Dan Thurlow in the Grand Junction-based district. The super PAC received $10,000 from Extraction Oil and Gas earlier this year.

Denver Democrat Zach Neumann is getting significant outside support in his three-way Senate District 32 primary. Assuring Quality Healthcare Access for Colorado, the super PAC for the state’s primary medical malpractice insurer, spent more than $20,400 on two different mailers supporting Neumann, while the National Association of Realtors PAC and their state affiliate, Prosperity Through Property Rights, reported spending nearly $39,000 on mailers supporting him. It’s unclear if each group spent that much, or if it’s a total. The report comes past the filing deadline for today’s campaign finance reports.

The Colorado Working Families Party reported spending nearly $9,000 on canvassing in support of Democratic attorney general candidates Salazar and Julie Gonzalez, who is in a three-way primary in Denver’s Senate District 34.

Meanwhile, in examining TV advertising, in the treasurer’s race, Lawrence is spending nearly $86,000 on nearly 5,300 TV ad spots statewide, while Watson is spending more than $39,000 on nearly 2,000 TV spots around the state.

And Thurlow is spending nearly $8,000 on more than 200 TV ads in the Grand Junction area.

Here’s a look at TV ad spending based on contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission through June 1:


  1. Polis was Founder and CEO of New America School (NAS), a charter network in Colorado and New Mexico. His website doesn’t mention some of the larger funders such as Carnegie, Knight, Ford, Goldman Sachs.

    He hired McMinnime as his superintendent for NAS, who although was allowed to finish his term in Jeffco public schools, was associated with the recalled school board of 2015.

    The Colorado Education Association (teachers association) didn’t endorse Polis, but endorsed Kennedy.


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