Leonard leads fundraising efforts in state Senate race | SummitDaily.com

Leonard leads fundraising efforts in state Senate race

SUMMIT COUNTY – Colorado Senate candidate Tim Leonard has raised about five times as much campaign money as either of his fellow candidates in the District 16 state Senate race.

As of May 3, Leonard, a Republican from Evergreen, reported raising $52,820. He estimated Tuesday that his campaign had collected more than $60,000, or about half his overall goal.

“I think people are very motivated to make a political difference, and that’s what contributions do,” Leonard said. “We have had a tremendous response, and we’re getting people who have never donated to a political campaign before to donate.”

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, Leonard’s opponent in the Republican primary and a Summit County resident, reported raising $10,200 by May 3. Gilpin County Commissioner Jeanne Nicholson, the only Democrat in the race, reported raising $6,810.

The three candidates are all vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Dan Gibbs, a Democrat.

Leonard, an advocate for small government, attributes his early fundraising lead in the race to voter frustration over government spending. He said he hears complaints about “tremendous spending” on the federal level and a lack of checks and balances on the state level, where both the Legislature and the governor’s office are controlled by Democrats.

“In our state, one party has dominated the landscape and gotten its way in almost everything,” Leonard said.

Leonard said he has also attracted significant support for his views on illegal immigration, including the elimination of access to free public education and health care. And as a businessman in commercial real estate, he said he has been able to appeal to voters who don’t want to send another “career politician” to the statehouse.

“People don’t want to see politicians moving from one branch of government to the other,” he said, referring to his opponents, who each currently holds elected office.

Hurlbert said that sentiment hasn’t come across in his campaigning, and he sees his 16 years in the judicial system as an asset.

“As district attorney, I’ve had seven-and-a-half years of managing a budget and using taxpayers’ money wisely, cherishing every single penny,” Hurlbert said. “When my opponent talks about fiscal responsibility, it’s one thing to say it, and it’s another thing to have done it for almost eight years.”

Hurlbert said he’s not worried by Leonard’s early lead.

“He’s been in the race about three months longer, and he’s run a statewide campaign before. We do have to make up some ground, but I think we will get there. I’m not resting on my laurels,” Hurlbert said.

Nicholson, who doesn’t have a primary opponent, is making her rounds throughout the six counties in District 16 as well.

“I think people have been responding to my message extremely well,” she said.

Nicholson said the No. 1 issue voters bring to her attention is job creation.

“People are not able to find jobs right now, and they’re really worried about their financial circumstances. We need to use the power of the state Legislature to create job opportunities that will not only put food on the table today but also be a good investment in the long term. Renewable energy, forestry, construction, public education, health care – those are all good opportunities to get people back to work right away and invest in our future.”

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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