Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper hauled in nearly $4.1 million in the year's first quarter, outraising U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner by a wide margin, but the Republican incumbent finished the quarter with more than twice as much money in the bank as his leading challenger.
Gardner reported raising $2.47 million for the three-month period that ended March 31, bringing his total fundraising for the cycle to $13.4 million. He had $9.57 million cash on hand heading into what's expected to be one of the top Senate races in the country this year.
Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, reported $4.88 million cash on hand after boosting his total fundraising to just shy of $9 million since he abandoned his White House bid and jumped in the crowded Democratic Senate primary in September.
Gardner's significant cash-on-hand advantage, his campaign manager Casey Contres said, positions the senator to "defeat the far left" this year.
"Every day, our grassroots supporters continue to keep our momentum strong on the path to November," Contres said in a written statement. "What's clear from Sen. Gardner's Q1 fundraising numbers is Coloradans want a commonsense conservative who delivers results, not a liberal socialist bent on changing America as we know it."
Hickenlooper, whose presidential campaign hit a rough patch when he denounced his party's lean toward democratic socialism, expects to be outspent by Gardner and his GOP allies, the Democrat's press secretary said.
"The Republican cavalry is coming for Cory Gardner," said Ammar Moussa in a statement, noting that the major Republican Senate committees have already booked nearly $12 million in advertising in Colorado. (Democrats have booked millions in advertising for the fall and groups opposing Gardner have already spent millions in the state.)
"This current crisis has been hard on everyone but underscores the need for change in Washington," he said. "Our grassroots army has been generous during this difficult time with their money, their time, and their support. With their support, Colorado will send an independent voice with a track record of bringing people together to actually get things done to change Washington."
Hickenlooper's chief primary opponent, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, brought in about $420,000 for the quarter, marking an uptick over the previous period, and finished with about $800,000 cash on hand. His total fundraising since entering the race last winter topped $2.1 million.
A Romanoff campaign spokeswoman didn't respond to a request for comment.
Hickenlooper is the only Democrat guaranteed a spot on the June 30 primary ballot, qualifying by petition.
After winning the preference poll by a wide margin at last month's precinct caucuses, however, Romanoff is almost certain to emerge from Saturday's state assembly with top-line designation heading into the primary. The distinction is conferred on the candidate who receives the most delegate support.
Two other Democrats are vying for delegate votes at the assembly, which is being held remotely due to restrictions on crowd sizes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Former congressional candidate Stephany Rose Spaulding and Erik Underwood, who ran for governor last cycle as a Democrat and for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in the previous cycle, are both hoping to win the 30% support needed to advance to the primary.
Spaulding reported raising about $22,000 for the quarter and had $13,000 cash on hand. Underwood raised less than $500 and had about $600 left over after spending $22,000 of his own money on his campaign.
Another Democrat, scientist and educator Trish Zornio, withdrew from the primary Wednesday morning, citing the state's stay-at-home order as an insurmountable roadblock to her grassroots campaign.
Nonprofit executive Lorena Garcia is awaiting word on her petition from the Secretary of State's Office but said her signature-gathering was hampered in early March when Coloradans began to react to the growing COVID-19 epidemic. She raised $25,000 for the quarter and reported her campaign was about $1,500 in the hole at the end of March.
NOTE: This story has been changed to reflect that the most recent fundraising quarter ended March 31.