Following the money in the 5th CD GOP primary race

From $36,000 in ads to $11 in Big Macs

By Leslie Jorgensen
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

COLORADO SPRINGS – In the final surge of the battle for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District, the campaigns of incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn, Jeff Crank and retired Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn are deploying electronic ad air raids, early voting mailers and phone banks as they strategize for victory.

The Aug. 12 primary is fast approaching, however, and their advances on the voter front may be constrained by constricted campaign coffers and limited time.

Lamborn’s campaign had $237,132 cash on hand as of June 30, according to the Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports for the second quarter. Since then, the campaign has spent megabucks on radio and television ads.

The Crank campaign reported $105,382 cash on hand, and Rayburn’s campaign had $62,039. Their cash reserves were tapped last month when the Crank campaign bought $36,500 in advertising on radio and TV, and the Rayburn campaign purchased $16,000 worth.

Last fall, the Crank and Rayburn campaigns hired key campaign staff, created Web sites and campaigned throughout the district. Lamborn selected Robin Coran to manage his campaign, but waited to throw the throttle wide open until late May. This month, his re-election campaign Web site debuted, but it’s still “under construction.”

In the second quarter, Lamborn raised $116,491, including $47,000 from 35 political action committees. The incumbent received $1,000 from the Questar Employees PAC, and four Questar executives also pitched in for another $2,500.

Crank received $102,074 in contributions. More than 90 percent were from Coloradans, and 65 percent were from CD 5 residents.

Rayburn reported $71,784 in contributions, which included $10,000 lent by the candidate to his campaign. The campaign reported a debt of $68,604, including $60,000 Rayburn lent his campaign for the 2008 election.

Crank and Lamborn made loans to their campaigns when they ran in 2006 that were not fully reimbursed. The campaigns reported loan balances from 2006 of $57,000 for Crank and $47,500 for Lamborn.

Rayburn camp undeterred

“We’re pleased,” said Mike Hesse, Rayburn’s campaign manager.

Hesse expressed surprise that Lamborn hadn’t made better use of his ability as an incumbent to tap political action committees and high-powered donors.

“Doug Lamborn should have a lot more money than he has,” said Hesse. “Most of Bentley Rayburn’s contributors are new to the political process and, because of that, they tend to give smaller contributions.”

“We plan to continue to wage an aggressive grassroots campaign,” vowed Hesse.

This week, the campaign will release a radio ad of Connie Soloman telling listeners why she supports Rayburn. Soloman was chief of staff to former Congressman Joel Hefley, who has endorsed Crank.

Hesse said he also will implement an “unusual campaign strategy” that incorporates “retail politics” as Rayburn goes out to woo the public one-on-one.

Lamborn camp encouraged

“We are very grateful for the contributions in this past quarter,” said Lamborn campaign manager Coran.

In addition to conducting an advertising blitz, the Lamborn campaign is building a Web site, staffing phone banks and holding several fundraisers.

Crank camp confident

“We’re certain this race is very winnable,” said Amber Glus, Crank’s deputy campaign manager.

“Most of Doug Lamborn’s money came from PACs,” said Glus, “and a small percentage of the individual donors are from the 5th Congressional District.”

The campaign has scheduled new TV and radio ads that feature Crank talking about solutions to such problems as the energy crisis, the economic slump and the federal debt.

Meanwhile, across the aisle

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Hal Bidlack, who raised an astonishing $102,764 in the second quarter and has $77,472 cash on hand.

And, finally, for fans of political trivia

The following are interesting tidbits culled from the second quarter FEC reports.

Who is the most generous with staff salaries?

In the second three months of 2008, Rayburn lavished $25,500 on the combined salaries of two staffers and $25,000 on Hesse. Lamborn paid two part-time staffers a total of about $3,500 and paid $9,369 to Coran. Crank’s campaign is managed by consultants with the help of two part-time campaign assistants who earned about $6,000 between them.

Which campaign spent the most money on an event?

It’s nearly a draw between the Rayburn and Lamborn campaigns. Rayburn’s campaign hosted a “Meet-and-Greet” reception at the Westin Hotel on the eve of the Colorado Republican Party Convention. The tab was $1,308. Lamborn’s campaign dropped $1,092 on an event in April at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C.

Who hosted the cheapest lunch?

The Rayburn campaign spent $11.04 on a lunch for campaign volunteers at McDonald’s.

Who’s been most reliant on political consultants?

Crank has done more than his part to keep the political consulting industry out of the red. His campaign paid $33,500 for strategy from Alan Philp of Patriot Solutions, guidance from Jim Banks of The Wabash Group (Banks managed Crank’s 2006 bid) and marketing by Glus, of O’C Productions.

Which campaigns paid experts to raise money?

Lamborn hired Washington, D.C.-based e2c Consulting in 2006 and this year. Crank contracted the Events and Conference Advisory, LLC. Each campaign paid about $8,500 for their divine guidance in the second quarter.

Who tapped into the rich and famous?

Thanks to the magic of the ACTBlue Web site, Democrat Bidlack snared $1,000 from Adam Savage, host of “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel; $2,000 from one-time John Denver manager Hal Thau; and $250 from mentalist Steven Banachek Shaw.

Biggest in-kind donation?

Lamborn received a colossal contribution from the taxpayers over the past year — franking privileges!