Summit County incumbents do well on fundraising, but sheriff’s race is a near tie |

Summit County incumbents do well on fundraising, but sheriff’s race is a near tie

Jack Queen

With Election Day just around the corner, donors large and small are waiting to see whether or not their investments in candidates paid off. While most local races were bankrolled with small contributions from friends and community members, interest groups, industry political action committees (PACs) and labor unions threw their weight around in the higher-ticket races.

Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons was somewhat of an outlier lower down on the ballot. His run was largely bankrolled by two major contributions: $5,000 each from Hollywood film producer David Ayer and Lubbock, Texas, trial lawyer Davis Smith, who threw in another $750 for campaign T-shirts, according to campaign finance reports.

Those contributions accounted for $10,750 of FitzSimons’ $15,750 war chest, which enjoyed more than $600 from local Democratic candidates, including County Commissioners Dan Gibbs and Thomas Davidson, county manager Scott Vargo and state House representative Millie Hamner.

There was a lot of cross-pollination from these local Democrats, who donated to and received money from each other’s campaigns. Millie Hamner was particularly generous to her down-ballot partisans, also doling out money to Davidson, County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier and state Senate candidate Emily Tracy.

FitzSimons’ opponent, Derek Woodman, narrowly edged him out in fundraising, netting $15,953 as of Oct. 30, according to contribution reports. Woodman’s haul came mostly from small contributions from individuals, but he also accepted $250 from Doug Berg Insurance Agency and $100 from Hebert Chiropractic. Those are both corporations and accepting funds directly form them is a violation of state campaign finance law.

In the county commissioner race, incumbent Davidson brought in $10,665, more than his two opponents combined; independents Bill Wallace and Jonathan Lerner raised $2,650 and $3,070, respectively. Both challengers’ campaigns were largely self-financed. Lerner received $500 from the Summit County GOP but returned the money, explaining in a filing that he didn’t want to be financially tied to the party.

In the other commissioner race, incumbent Karn Stiegelmeier raised just short of $7,000 and did almost all of her spending in September, shelling out $2,274 in that month. Her opponent, independent Gary “GW” Horine, has not reported any revenue or expenditures, which is not required for campaigns that are strictly self-funded.

In the race for District Attorney of Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, Democratic incumbent Bruce Brown nearly outspent both of his rivals with a single expenditure: $20,000 paid to RBI Strategies, a Denver political consultancy, on Oct. 11, according to campaign filings. His opponents, Republican Bruce Carey and independent Sanam Mehrnia, spent $14,500 and $5,587, respectively.

Those races, however, were small ball compared to the statewide contests. Democratic state Senate candidate Emily Tracy raised $91,985 in her second bid to unseat Republican incumbent Randy Baumgardner, who raised $86,708. Tracy got a big boost from the Colorado Democratic Committee, which gave her $19,624, a vote of confidence from a body that tends to focus its donations on candidates it thinks have a good chance of winning. Donations from industry groups generally fell along predictably partisan lines: labor groups and unions threw in for Tracy, while a handful of oil companies backed Baumgardner.

The medical and health care industries, on the other hand, have demonstrated generosity on both sides of the aisle this cycle. Doctor’s unions and PACs associated with health insurance companies and hospitals gave to both Baumgardener and Democratic state House incumbent Millie Hamner, who received more than $10,000 in contributions from groups like the Colorado Medical Society and insurance company COPIC. Both of those organizations also gave to Hamner’s opponent, Republican Bob Schutt, who raised $8,650, according to filings with the Colorado Secretary of State.

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