Bennet Election 2020 Senate Colorado

In this file photo, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., speaks during a car rally for Doug Emhoff, husband of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, at East High School late Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Denver.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet pulled in more than $1.2 million for the year's first quarter and finished the fundraising period with about the same amount on hand, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday by the Colorado Democrat.

Bennet, who has yet to draw a Republican challenger, has banked a total of about $2.8 million since winning his second full term in 2016, including transfers from his 2020 presidential campaign and other related committees.

Roughly 90% of Bennet's donations for most recent quarter were below $200, his campaign said.

Bennet's fundraising and cash on hand trail what former fellow Colorado senator Cory Gardner posted at the same point in his re-election cycle two years ago.

The Yuma Republican, who lost a bid for a second term last November to Democrat John Hickenlooper, raised $2 million for the first three months of 2019 and ended the quarter with more than $3.4 million in the bank.

Election forecasters are slotting Colorado's 2022 Senate race in the solid blue column, citing double-digit wins by the Democrats' top-ticket candidates in the state for the last two cycles.

While the battle for control of the 50-50 Senate is expected to be ferocious next year, strategists tell Colorado Politics that if Bennet is considered vulnerable, Democrats will be in real trouble. That's because nine other states — represented by four Democrats and five Republicans — likely rank as more competitive, according to analysts.

If he wins next year, Bennet will be the first Colorado senator elected to a third term since 1966, when Republican Gordon Allott won re-election.

Just one Republican has taken any steps toward challenging Bennet. Peter Yu, who lost a 2018 congressional race to U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, filed paperwork earlier this month to form an exploratory committee for a 2022 Senate run.

Appointed to the Senate in 2009 following Ken Salazar's resignation to join the Obama cabinet, Bennet won his first full term in 2010, defeating Republican Ken Buck by 1.7 percentage points, and won a second term in 2016 over GOP nominee Darryl Glenn by 5.7 percentage points. (Hickenlooper beat Gardner last year by 9.3 percentage points at the same time Democrat Joe Biden took Colorado by 13.5 percentage points.)

Bennet had a big cash advantage over both Buck and Gardner, outspending Buck $13 million to $4.8 million and swamping Glenn $16 million to $3.8 million.

In 2010, outside spending dwarfed what the candidates spent, totaling about $35 million split roughly equally between the two sides, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Outside groups spent less, just $4.6 million, in Colorado's 2016 Senate race.

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