DENVER, CO – Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) has a tough race on his hands in Colorado’s 4th Congressional district, where he faces first term Republican Congressman Cory Gardner. Not only does the district lean heavily Republican, but a review of Shaffer’s Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance filings indicate he is struggling to gain financial support within the district itself.
Of the $156,436 raised in itemized donations since Shaffer jumped in the race on July 4, 2011, just $19,011 – or just over 10% – came from donors living in the 4th district that Shaffer is campaigning to represent.
Shaffer also raised $65,364 in unitemized donations in 2011 for which addresses were not available.
Campaigns are only required to report personal information for donors who give a cumulative of $200 or more in an election cycle.
In comparison to the $19,000 raised in the 4th Congressional district, Shaffer has raised $70,250 from Political Action Committees (PACs), most of which are located in Washington, DC. The special interest money accounted for 25% of Shaffer’s total fundraising in 2011.
A labor union PAC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Political Action Committee, gave Shaffer $10,000. The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union Active Ballot Club donated $5,000.
“The FEC requires only donors who have given $200 or more to be itemized on the reports,” said Shaffer. “Therefore, we have hundreds of donors from CD4 who are not listed individually on the FEC report. Our opponent, incumbent Cory Gardner, has raised 44% of his money from special interest PAC’s, and an amazing 94% from big contributions of over $200.”
But of the donors listed in Shaffer’s FEC reports in 2011, there is only one person from the Eastern Plains. Of the 22 counties in the 4th district, Shaffer has donations from just four.
“Shaffer’s campaign finance report shows a real lack of a grassroots support in Eastern Colorado,” says state Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “Contrast that with [Congressman] Gardner’s over $200,000 raised in Yuma County alone in the 2010 cycle and you will quickly realize who the people of Eastern Colorado support.”
Noting the high number of registered lobbyists in Colorado who gave to Shaffer’s campaign, Brophy said Shaffer is raising money “by shaking down people who have an interest in what’s going on at the State Capitol.”
Shaffer’s FEC report lists 21 state lobbyists who gave a total of nearly $8,100 in 2011.
Despite that boost from state lobbyists, Shaffer is struggling to keep par with Gardner, who currently has a nearly $600,000 advantage in cash on hand.
Those figures portend poorly for Shaffer’s campaign against Gardner, especially considering Gardner enjoys a 17-point registration advantage for Republicans in the district.
Before redistricting, the process of redrawing Congressional lines every 10 years to account for population shifts, the 4th Congressional district was considered competitive with Democratic Congresswoman Betsy Markey winning the seat in 2008, and current Republican Congressman Cory Gardner winning in 2010.
After redistricting, the 4th district became far more Republican in registration. Large Democratic portions of the district were moved in the 2nd district and additional Republican-leaning enclaves, such as the town of Castle Rock in Douglas County, were added to the sprawling congressional district.
Due to the political makeup of the newly reconfigured 4th district most observers now view the seat as a safe Republican district.
Shaffer, who had flirted briefly with running for Congress in the 6th Congressional district, is currently the only declared Democrat in the 4th CD race.