DA Mark Hurlbert posted dismal fundraising numbers for 2010 in his bid to become the Republican nominee for state Senate District 16 – a total of $10,200, according to the Secretary of State’s Tracer website. Hurlbert is competing for the nomination against conservative/libertarian businessman, Tim Leonard , of Evergreen. Leonard has raised six times Hurlbert’s total, and did so with mostly small donations from 280 contributors.
Hurlbert and Leonard will face off on May 21 at the Republican State Assembly in Loveland. Only candidates gaining at least 30 percent of the delegate votes will appear on the ballot for the August primary. The winner will face Democrat Gilpin County Commissioner, Jeanne Nicholson, who has no primary opponent.
Hurlbert’s itemized contributions report reveals about 20 percent of his contributions, $2,000, came from one source: Treasurer candidate Muhammed Ali Hasan and his family. Ali Hasan and four family members each contributed the legal maximum of $400 per individual. Not to be completely outdone by the Hasan clan, the Hurlbert family also contributed its own money to the campaign, to the tune of $3,200. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t amount to 30 percent of such paltry fundraising.
Surprisingly, neither Mark Hurlbert nor his wife, attorney Cathy Cheroutes, put any of their own money into Hurlbert’s campaign. Contributors want to see that a candidate has enough confidence about winning that he bets on himself, that he’s got skin in the race (but not so much that he’s buying it, either). It’s like the CEO of a company who doesn’t own any of its stock – what kind of signal does that send to potential investors?
Of the $3,200 of Hurlbert’s family’s money, $400 is from a member of the Democrat-activist Cheroutes side of the family. That mean $5,200, more than half of the $10,200 raised, came from the Hasan and Hurlbert families.
So that would leave $5,000 from committed rank-and-file Colorado Republicans, right? Not exactly. Closeted Hurlbert-endorser, term-limited liberal “Republican,” Senator Al White, kicked in the $400 max. Hurlbert’s old boss, Democrat Mike Goodbee’s wife, Michelle, tossed in $100. Democrat Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson also contributed $100. Another of the three Summit Dem commissioners, Bob French, endorsed Hurlbert, but did not give money.
Bottom line: Based on the Secretary of State report, Hurlbert raised less than $4,200 bucks from outside his inner circle in four months from 27 people. And this is the GOP party boss’s idea of “electability?”
Do Hasan Contributions Raise a Potential Appearance of Impropriety?
The financial support of the wealthy health care scion is troubling because of Hurlbert’s criminal investigation of Hasan in 2008. Hurlbert failed to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor, and also declined to file charges against Hasan. Both Hasan and Hurlbert were highly active Republicans at the time in the same district. Hasan was running for House District 56, and both admit Hurlbert helped Hasan in his campaign. I wrote about the saga here and also here, and the posts have links to other sources. But with the campaign reports only coming out last night, I had no idea back then whether Hasan had contributed to Hurlbert’s campaign.
After my stories, but before the release of the campaign contributions reports, Mark Hurlbert responded to some of my questions about his relationship with Hasan and the failure to appoint a special prosecutor. Hurlbert’s not-yet published discussion with me necessitates a second installment of this article. I hope to publish that piece shortly.
Tim Leonard Bests Hurlbert Fundraising by 600 percent – Trounces GOP and Democrat Opponents Combined
What Tim Leonard’s fundraising lacks in melodrama and intrigue, he more than makes up for in totals and in breadth of grassroots support. The report posted by the Secretary of State shows Leonard raised $62,800 since the start of the campaign. $20,000 of that came from Leonard himself to jump-start the campaign’s up-front costs ($10,000 is a loan). Unlike Hurlbert, Leonard has serious skin in the race. Leonard raised an additional $42,000 from about 280 contributors. Hurlbert had only 39 contributors, which drops to 27 after deducting the 12 Hasan and Hurlbert family donors.
Most of Tim Leonard’s fundraising came from small contributions, few hit the $400 maximum. 89 of Leonard’s contributions came from voters in Senate District 16; only nine of Hurlbert’s contributors were from the district. The Secretary of State’s report also shows Leonard attracted some small PAC money. He received $2,000, for example, from a Second Amendment rights group. They apparently know who the real gun rights supporter is in the race.
One of the most impressive numbers, is the $39,000 Leonard raised during this first quarter reporting period. Leonard raised more than any other Republican state Senate candidate in Colorado, including incumbents.
In a press release, Leonard stated, “our strong fundraising quarter is indicative of the support I’ve found on the campaign trail.” And Leonard must have really been on the hustings to gain all this support, because he spent only $7,000 to do so. That leaves him with a whopping $52,000 in the bank heading into the May 21-22 Assembly. Compare that with Hurlbert spending about half of what Leonard spent, but with little to show in results and only a $7,167 bank balance-less than 14 percent of Leonard’s campaign cash-on-hand. Put another way, for every dollar in campaign funds expended, Leonard generated over $7.00. For every dollar Hurlbert spent, his efforts generated only $1 dollar. A wash in other words, a rate of return of zero.
Why does Leonard think his campaign efforts have been such a success? “People are fed up with career politicians and lawyers constantly making new laws while being incapable of cutting enough spending. Voters are focused on reining in their out-of-control government spending, and I am honored that they show their support for me to get that job done.”