Bennet Denver

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is greeted by guests before First Lady Jill Biden opens the White House Initiative Latino Economic Summit Denver on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the Community College of Denver’s Auraria Campus in downtown Denver.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet raised more than $2.475 million for his reelection bid in the first three months of the year and finished the quarter with more than $6.1 million in the bank, the Colorado Democrat's campaign said on Wednesday.

The sum brings Bennet's fundraising total for the 2022 midterm cycle to nearly $11.2 million as Republicans embark on a primary to pick their nominee to challenge Bennet, who is seeking a third full term.

"Michael is working hard and his grassroots campaign continues to grow," Bennet's campaign manager, Justin Lamorte, told Colorado Politics in an email. "He was endorsed by nearly 200 elected officials and leaders across Colorado. He received the overwhelming support of the Democratic State Assembly this weekend. And today, he broke a Colorado fundraising record while refusing to accept donations from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists."

Bennet's haul set a record for the most money raised by an incumbent Colorado senator in the first quarter of an election year, barely edging past the $2,469,739 raised two years ago by Republican Cory Gardner. Six years ago, when he was gearing up to run for his second full term, Bennet posted $1,773,478 in contributions for the first quarter of 2016.

Bennet plans to report that 95% of his contributions this quarter were for under $200, just surpassing the share of small-dollar donations his campaign reported in the previous three quarters.

State Republicans on Saturday teed up a primary for the seat between state Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Cañon City, and construction company owner Joe O'Dea. Neither Republican candidate has yet released fundraising totals for the most recent quarter. Reports for the three-month period ending March 31 are due to the Federal Election Commission by midnight Friday.

Lamorte said the Republicans' primary and schisms in the state GOP don't bode well for their eventual nominee.

"Republicans are engaged in a bitter, costly and divisive primary, and the Republican state assembly picked insurrectionist Ron Hanks as their top candidate," he said. "Hanks and the Republican field are not focused on issues that matter to Coloradans, but on who can run farthest to the right and appease Donald Trump."

Jessica Taylor, an analyst at the Cook Political Report, said this week that Republicans could effectively ensure another Bennet term by nominating Hanks, a leading proponent of Trump's disproven claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, though if O'Dea is the nominee, she added, the seat could turn competitive.

Cook moved the Colorado race from "Solid Democrat" to "Likely Democrat" in February, still two steps away from the toss-up territory occupied by Democratic-held seats in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada and GOP-held seats in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If Republicans net just one Senate seat in this fall's election, the party will take the majority from the Democrats, who currently hold 50 seats plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

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