WASHINGTON – Sen. Mark Udall courted attention to his campaigning prowess by releasing the first quarter fundraising figures a week early, but the Colorado Democrat’s ability to shake the money tree is less important than that of his likely Republican challenger, says a political analyst.
Udall’s campaign announced Monday that the freshman Democrat raised more than $2 million from January 1 to March 31, bringing the war chest total for his 2014 Senate reelection to $7 million with nearly $6 million cash-on-hand.
Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, credited Udall for raising a “good amount” of money for a Colorado Senate race. However the key to the campaign will be the amount raised by his likely Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner.
“Gardner is a very energetic, personable guy, very hardworking,” Rothenberg said in an interview Tuesday.
“(Udall’s) going to have to match that. An incumbent needs enough money to get his message out,” Rothenberg said.
The seasoned political analyst predicted that Gardner would need to raise $8 million to $10 million to defeat Udall. Successful Senate candidates since 1986 have raised an average of $10.35 million in 2012 dollars, according to a survey from the Campaign Finance Institute.
First, Gardner has to win the party’s nod at the state assembly in Boulder this weekend where his main challenger for the nomination will be state Sen. Randy Baumgardner.
A Gardner campaign spokesman said their fundraising totals for the first quarter were not yet available. Gardner raised more than $800,000 last year for his congressional reelection. He did not announce for the Senate campaign until late February.
The deadline for filing with the Federal Election Commission is April 15, but it’s not uncommon for campaigns to release the total figure early, minus the list of contributors, to grab media headlines.
In keeping with his current policy of not discussing politically sensitive questions, Udall did not make himself available to reporters at the Capitol Tuesday.
Udall told the Observer he was going to a doctor’s office. “I am happy to talk on the (campaign) trail,” he said.
In his 2008 campaign, Udall raised nearly $12 million and spent nearly $13 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His opponent then, former Rep. Bob Schaffer raised and spent just over $7 million.