Major donors, corporate interests support O’Dea’s bid to bridge funding gap with Bennet – Colorado Newsline | Region & Cash

Ultimately, Colorado’s 2022 US Senate race will almost certainly attract tens of millions of dollars in campaign spending from both Democrats and Republicans alike — but bucking a recent trend, it’s unlikely to be the costliest of all time.

As of June 30, incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and his Republican rival, Denver construction chief Joe O’Dea, have reported campaign spending of just over $8 million. Even accounting for independent super-PAC spending — surpassed by the $4 million spent by Democrats to bolster O’Dea’s main far-right rival, Rep. Ron Hanks — that’s far behind the pace of Colorado’s Senate contest two years ago when former GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper and their supporters finally spent a combined $105 million in one of the most-watched congressional races of the year.

While Democrats are widely expected to lose ground in the November midterm election, Bennet isn’t widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats of 2022, with races in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and other states considered more competitive.

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However, Republicans are promising to take the fight to Bennet, and Axios reported this week that GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared at an O’Dea fundraiser in Washington, DC to explain that his party “all in in Colorado”. ”

O’Dea has been criticized by fellow Republicans for qualifying for the June primary by signing petitions — a path that avoided a state GOP convention dominated by far-right conspiracy theorists but cost at least $221,500 in advertising spend. according to reports submitted to the federal election commission.

O’Dea covered these and other primary campaign costs with funds raised in large part from wealthy donors, in addition to self-funding his campaign with $1.6 million in personal contributions and loans, FEC disclosures show. More than half of the funds O’Dea has raised through June 30 came from donors who contributed the maximum of $5,800 under federal law, compared to 29% for the Bennet campaign.

O’Dea, who describes himself as a “working Coloradan running for Working American Champion,” he has received less than 4% of his campaign funds from small donors who contributed less than $200. In contrast, small donors account for 22% of Bennet’s total fundraising.

Among the donors making the biggest contributions to O’Dea’s campaign are established GOP figures such as Bruce Benson and Terry Considine, meatpacker heiress Kaye Monfort, and a long list of executives from his company Concrete Express Inc. and other construction firms in Colorado.

Many of these donors have contributed to a super PAC supporting O’Dea’s candidacy, the American Policy Fund. Notable contributors include construction managers Bruce Wagner and Jeff Keller, as well as ranch equipment maker Hutchison Inc. and Transwest Automotive Group. Super PACs are authorized under federal law to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or disapprove a candidate.

Over the course of a week in late June, the American Policy Fund also received a large cash injection from Colorado’s fossil fuel industry, topped by a $100,000 donation from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association on June 24. Separate contributions from companies and industry insiders, including Steve Struna, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services, DCP Operating and Bayswater, added an additional $190,000.

These funds helped cover the pro-O’Dea Super PAC’s last-minute holiday for ads against Hanks, which totaled over $467,000 between June 21 and June 28, according to FEC- show records.

O’Dea defeated Hanks, a first-term legislator and a leading figure in Colorado’s counterfeiting movement, by nine points in the June 28 primary, according to unofficial results. His win came despite controversial Democrat efforts to boost Hank’s bid with ads calling him “too conservative” and highlighting O’Dea’s history of fundraising for Democratic campaigns.

Democratic Colorado, the super-PAC that funded the ads attacking Hanks and O’Dea, filed its first disclosure of required campaign funding Wednesday, revealing that the group was funded entirely by the Democratic Senate majority. In a statement, Senate Majority PAC President JB Poersch said the group had been working to weaken both (the candidates’) campaigns.

“Our efforts forced O’Dea to burn cash, embrace Trump, and expose his true colors as a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell and a dangerous MAGA agenda totally inconsistent with the voters who will decide the Colorado general election.” . ‘ said Poersch.

In his quest for a third full Senate term, Bennet enters the general election phase with a huge financial advantage, with more than $8 million in cash — nearly 10 times what O’Dea reported after a hard-fought primary win. Though O’Dea is poised to enjoy a fundraising surge after officially securing the nomination — he received a $46,500 referral from the National Republican Senatorial Committee a day after the primary — he still has a long way to go to offset Bennet’s advantage.

Bennet began airing his first television ad of the election cycle on Thursday, touting “common sense” proposals such as a ban on stock trading by members of Congress and his promise not to accept campaign contributions from corporate PACs.

The incumbent Democrat raised $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2021 alone and has gradually increased his quarterly yield to over $3.3 million in the most recent reporting period. Meanwhile, O’Dea, which launched its campaign in October 2021, reported raising just $976,851 from outside donors last quarter, by far its largest yield yet.

With Election Day less than four months away, O’Dea’s campaign has reported just over $2.6 million in spending. In contrast, at the same time two years ago, Hickenlooper reported that he had spent over $10.8 million trying to unseat Gardner.

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