Some of Colorado’s primary candidates are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into securing seats on the state legislature — unusually big spending typically reserved for the general election.
With less than two weeks remaining until the primary election on June 28, Colorado Politics analyzed the fundraising in each contested primary race for the state legislature, including loans and non-monetary campaign contributions, according to the latest campaign finance reports released on Monday.
The top 10 most expensive races are nearly evenly split among the parties, with Republicans holding six of the top spots compared to the Democrats’ four. House races are noticeably more expensive than Senate races, occupying the entire top five, and seven out of the total top 10 spots.
Here are the top 10 races, ranked from most to least funding:
1.) House District 6, Katie March vs. Elisabeth Epps — $332,345.86
The most expensive race by far is the Democratic primary between Katie March and Elisabeth Epps. In one of the most contentious and dramatic races of the election, both women are seeking to replace incumbent Rep. Steven Woodrow, who was drawn out of House District 6. The Denver district is dominated by Democrats — who make up nearly 48% of active voters — meaning the winner of the primary is all but guaranteed victory at the general election in November.
March — a former legislative aide for House Speaker Alec Garnett — has raised around $156,746, while Epps — founder of the Colorado Freedom Fund — has raised $175,599. Epps has spent $99,645 so far, leaving her with $75,954 in the bank. March has already spent $139,518, with around $17,227 remaining.
2.) House District 45, Bill Jack vs. Lisa Frizell — $129,803.04
Second place goes to the Republican primary race to represent House District 45 — an open seat left by Rep. Patrick Neville, who is term limited. Christian educator Bill Jack and Douglas County Assessor Lisa Frizell are fighting for the Republican nomination as well as the seat itself, considering that 38% of active voters in the Douglas County district are Republicans, compared to 17% who are Democrats.
Jack is leading significantly in fundraising, collecting $46,038 on top of a $1,000 loan; however, Frizell has much more money overall after taking out a $65,000 loan, in addition to $17,764 from fundraising. Frizell has spent over $71,886 so far, dwarfing Jack’s spending of $31,404.
3.) House District 43, Kurt Huffman vs. Robin Webb — $120,553.70
Another Douglas County district, the Republican primary for House District 43 has raked in big money from first-time candidates Kurt Huffman, an engineer and general contractor, and Robin Webb, an accounting manager. The Republican-controlled district was previously represented by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, who left to fill a vacant Senate seat earlier this month. A vacancy committee appointed Huffman to finish Van Winkle’s term through January.
Huffman is responsible for the vast majority of the money in this race, taking out a $100,000 loan and raising $9,205. Webb has raised just over $11,348. So far, Huffman has spent over $65,887 and has $43,317 remaining, while Webb has spent $8,607 and has $2,741 left.
4.) House District 57, Cole Buerger vs. Elizabeth Velasco — $107,061.12
The last six-figure race is the Democratic primary for House District 57 between small business owners Cole Buerger and Elizabeth Velasco. The two Democrats are battling to decide who will face incumbent Republican Rep. Perry Will. The recently redrawn district — containing all of Garfield and Pitkin counties and part of Eagle County — now has a slight Democratic advantage, with 27% active Democratic voters and 22% active Republican voters.
Velasco has raised more money at $48,475, but Buerger has $23,624 in loans on top of his $34,962 in fundraising. Velasco has spent $32,151 so far, leaving her with $16,324. Buerger has spent $39,188 and has $19,397 remaining.
5.) House District 55, Trish Weber vs. Rick Taggart — $92,066.06
Rounding out the top five is the Republican primary for House District 55 — an open seat being vacated by Rep. Janice Rich, who is running for the state Senate. The competing candidates are Trish Weber, a physician, and Rick Taggart, a member of the Grand Junction City Council. The winner of the primary is more than likely to win the general election, given that Republicans make up just under 50% of active voters in the Mesa County district.
Weber and Taggart are neck and neck for campaign fundraising, with the former collecting $33,266 and the latter raising $38,800. However, Weber also took out a $20,000 loan, giving her a funding advantage. After campaign spending, Taggart has $5,473 left over, while Weber boasts over $13,314.
6.) House District 44, Terry Dodd vs. Anthony Hartsook — $87,089.69
The third and final Douglas County district in the top 10 is the race for Republican-leaning House District 44, which will decide the replacement of long-time Rep. Kim Ransom, who is term limited. The Republican primary features candidates Terry Dodd, a real estate broker and construction manager, and Anthony Hartsook, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and director of the Future Freedom Foundation.
Hartsook has brought the bulk of the money into the race, collecting over $23,301 in fundraising and taking out a $50,000 loan. Dodd has raised $3,267 and took out $10,520 in loans. So far, Hartsook has spent $59,114 and has over $14,187 remaining, while Dodd has spent $13,202 and has $585 left.
7.) Senate District 9, Paul Lundeen vs. Lynda Zamora Wilson — $84,040.59
The most expensive state Senate race is the Republican primary for District 9 between incumbent Sen. Paul Lundeen and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lynda Zamora Wilson. This is the first time Lundeen has faced a primary challenge during his nearly eight-year career in the Colorado legislature. Wilson won more votes than Lundeen during the Colorado Republican Party’s state assembly in April to represent the Republican-controlled district in El Paso County.
Lundeen has dominated fundraising for the race, collecting $78,480 compared to Wilson’s $3,884 in fundraising and $1,675 in loans. Also using over $22,623 already on hand before the race, Lundeen has spent more than $82,734 so far. Wilson has spent $4,175.
8.) Senate District 11, Tony Exum Sr. vs. Yolanda Avila — $83,145.62
The Democratic primary for Senate District 11 will decide who goes against Republican Sen. Dennis Hisey in one of the most competitive elections of the session. The Democratic candidates — state House Rep. Tony Exum Sr. and Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Yolanda Avila — are competing to represent the southeastern Colorado Springs district, which is comprised of nearly 50% unaffiliated active voters, 25% Democratic and 23% Republican.
Though both candidates have currently spent around $28,000 each, Avila has just under $10,000 more funds left over than Exum. In total, Avila has raised more than $46,756 so far, while Exum has collected $36,389.
9.) House District 34, Jenny Willford vs. Sam Nizam — $81,695.62
Another open seat, House District 34 will be left vacant by Rep. Kyle Mullica, who is running for the state Senate. The Democratic primary to replace him includes candidates Jenny Willford, program manager at Colorado Sierra Club, and Sam Nizam, a small business owner. The district — which encompasses Northglenn — leans Democratic, meaning the primary will likely decide the winner of the general election, as well.
Willford has been more successful in fundraising, collecting $48,939 to Nizam’s $32,756. Though Nizam has slightly more funds left to work with, having spent only $17,529 so far, compared to Willford’s spending of $34,366.
10.) Senate District 27, JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin vs. Tom Kim — $77,809.42
The final entry in the top 10 is the Republican primary for Senate District 27. Redistricting left the Arapahoe County seat with no incumbent and a slight Republican advantage, though it has a significant unaffiliated population. Two Republican newcomers are battling to take on Democrat Rep. Tom Sullivan, who is currently serving House District 37. First-time candidate Tom Kim, managing director of r2 Advisors, is running against former Aurora Public Schools board member JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin.
Kim has spent more than double Shepherd Macklin so far, with the former’s spending sitting at $35,962 and the latter’s $17,593. However, Shepherd Macklin has more than $14,772 left over after getting $24,128 from fundraising and $8,238 from loans. Kim has raised $45,443 and has $9,480 remaining.