Mar 9, 2023 - Politics

Who's winning the money race for Denver mayor: 5 numbers to know

2023 Denver mayoral candidates' campaign finances
Data: Denver Elections Division; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The money race is defining the crowded contest for Denver mayor one month before the election, new fundraising reports show.

State of play: The 17 candidates in the race have now collected more than $5.3 million in contributions and public financing, and outside groups added another $1.2 million, an Axios Denver analysis finds.

  • Here are the key takeaways:

Top fundraiser: Kelly Brough is emerging as the clear frontrunner in the mayor's race in terms of fundraising and outside support.

  • She raised $1.1 million through the end of February. A Better Denver, a super PAC backing Brough's campaign and primarily funded by realtors and developers, took in $578,000.

Other big money campaigns: Three other candidates remain competitive in the money race with the rest of the pack far behind, John found in his number-crunching.

  • Andy Rougeot is self-funding his campaign, loaning himself $750,000 and taking in just $48,000 in contributions.
  • Leslie Herod, a state lawmaker, and Mike Johnston, a former state senator, each raised more than $700,000 from contributions and taxpayer matching funds.

The intrigue: As the April 4 election nears, Herod and Johnston are the two other candidates getting big-money help.

  • Herod is backed by dark-money political organization Ready Denver. The group β€” which has not disclosed its donors β€” spent $122,000 to produce TV ads and run local advertising.
  • Advancing Denver spent $380,000 on ads to tout Johnston in the reporting period. And Wednesday, the group put another $480,000 into the race. Two donors β€” Kent Thiry, the former Davita CEO, and Steve Mandel, a hedge fund manager β€” each contributed $150,000 to the committee.

The final push: Most of the campaigns are well-positioned to have the resources needed in the final five weeks of the campaign. The exception is Chris Hansen, a state senator who has spent 90% of the $443,000 he collected through February.

  • Ean Thomas Tafoya, an activist, has spent 68% of the $153,000 in his campaign account.

What's next: The campaigns will get their final infusion of public matching dollars on small donations through the Fair Elections Fund by March 15.

  • The fund is a vital resource for candidates with longer odds. Six contenders have received about two-thirds of their campaign money from taxpayers.
  • Taxpayers are providing at least half the campaign cash for all but three candidates: Brough, Rougeot and Johnston.

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