Tim Leonard, the Republican candidate for Colorado state Senate District 16, seized the
momentum from his 71-29 percent May 21 State Assembly victory, and has turned in another impressive grassroots fundraising showing. Leonard, a conservative/libertarian businessman from Evergreen, raised a total of $69,00o as of May 26, according to June 1 campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State. He raised more than any other Republican state Senate candidate in the previous four-month reporting period.
Leonard also used his contributors’ donations effectively, spending only about $12,000. That leaves Leonard’s campaign with over $56,000 in cash on hand to use against his Democrat opponent.
Political watchers certainly expected Leonard to win a majority of delegates at the Assembly, but ousting his opponent was an upset that surprised even the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels – arguably Colorado’s savviest political writer. How has Leonard’s campaign managed such impressive results while spending so little in over five months of campaigning? Leonard credits his large and well-organized team of volunteers, as well as cost-effective, conservative spending habits instilled as a small business owner. And of course being on the right side of the issues helps too.
Tim Leonard’s fundraising shows broad support for the Republican state Senate candidate. Leonard raised money from 333 donors, 122 of whom live in the district. Leonard’s contributions also include $2,000 from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners PAC.
With the post-Assembly ramp-up of the campaign season, candidates are required to provide fundraising reports monthly instead of every four months. The most recent reporting period is April 26 through May 26. Leonard raised about $8,100 for this period from 53 donors, 33 of whom live in Senate District 16.
Nicholson’s contributions came from about 15o donors, with roughly 40 percent from people who live in the district. Many contributors are teachers, health care workers, and government employees. Nicholson also raised $1,000 from a Democrat small donor PAC. Though she has only $9,300 in cash remaining, this will change soon as the Democrat war chest and 527 groups kick in as anticipated and lavish Nicholson’s campaign with financial assistance. Nicholson did not face a Democrat Assembly opponent.
Tim Leonard’s Republican Assembly opponent, Mark Hurlbert, failed to make the primary ballot after garnering only 29 percent of the delegate votes. Hurlbert is the Eagle County district attorney, best known for prosecuting L.A. Lakers basketball star, Kobe Bryant, for sexual assault charges. The case was eventually dismissed.
Hurlbert made a stealth, 11th hour attempt to petition on the ballot – ExPat ExLawyer broke the story. He is the only Republican who participated in the Assembly to try the petition route. Even Hurlbert’s supporters, including state Senator Al White (R-Hayden), with whom I spoke, think Hurlbert’s signature-gathering effort will fall short.
Hurlbert’s campaign has been “lazy and complacent,” according to a knowledgable GOP official who commented off-the-record. He raised only $10,200 through April 25, compared to
Leonard’s $62,000. Hurlbert obtained about $5,100 this past month – mostly from Denver party insiders like Pete Coors, Hank Brown and Jordon Perlmutter, but spent $5,900. And at least $3,000 went to paid signature collectors.
Most telling, only 17 of Hurlbert’s contributors live in the district. This should dispel the notion held by supporters such as state Senator Josh Penry, who recruited Hurlbert to run and now manages Jane Norton’s U.S. Senate campaign, that Hurlbert would bring home the frozen bacon from his home base of Summit County. Perhaps people from other parts of Colorado mistook the lack of critical coverage of Hurlbert in the local media as a sign of popularity.
Political analysts consider Senate District 16 a must-win for Republicans to regain control of the state Senate from the Democrats, who hold a 21-14 majority. Democrat Dan Gibbs now holds the seat, but is not running, and is instead seeking a Summit County Commission slot. The lack of an incumbent, combined with Democrat fiscal mismanagement nationally and in Colorado, provides the perfect storm for Tim Leonard.