Coffman Can’t Spin His Way Out Of Losing To Romanoff Again

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, time to break out the hip waders in the marquee CD-6 race:

Congressman Mike Coffman’s campaign is claiming momentum after winning the June fundraising period over Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in one of the most competitive House races of the 2014 cycle.

Coffman’s campaign brought in $405,000 between June 5 and June 30, more than Romanoff, who raised $373,000 in the latest reporting period…

The problem is, fundraising performance is generally measured by the quarter.

The press release from Coffman’s campaign didn’t mention that it brought in $742,000 during the year’s second quarter as a whole, which is $100,000 less than the $842,000 quarterly haul Romanoff’s campaign announced Monday. [Pols emphasis]

Mike Coffman's campaign spin notwithstanding, this Q2 of 2014 was the fourth straight quarter in which Democrat Andrew Romanoff has outraised one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbents. Romanoff is almost $400,000 ahead of Coffman now in terms of cash on hand–$2.67 million to $2.3 million. It makes sense, given that Coffman's lackluster fundraising is increasingly casting a shadow on his campaign, that they would try to find some way of spinning this result. In the one month of June, Coffman can plausibly say he barely beat Romanoff.

But as you can see, reporters aren't buying the spin. And when that happens, sometimes the spin becomes the story.

Where Is the “Leveling Point” in CD-6?

The Colorado Pols Leveling Point

Yes, this is absolutely a terrible graphic

We frequently discuss fundraising results here on Colorado Pols, because in politics, fundraising matters more than well…anything, really. You can have all the grassroots and volunteer support in the world, but as many a candidate has found, none of that really matters unless you have enough money to both run a campaign and reach out to voters (largely through television ads).

But as we watch the money continue to pour into the various candidates and issue committees in CD-6, we've started to wonder: When all sides are raising and spending ridiculous sums of money, at what point does the financial piece of ad spending stop moving the needle? In other words, if there is a "Tipping Point" in fundraising, is there also a "Leveling Point?"

As Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post reported today, the race for Congress in CD-6 is getting pretty expensive already:

In an effort to preserve and pick-up as many House seats as possible this November, the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to spend upwards of $30 million in TV ad buys, with the largest buy carved out for the Denver media market.

The NRCC has reserved $3.3 million in TV ad space to aid incumbent GOP Congressman Mike Coffman as he defends his Aurora-based 6th Congressional District seat. Coffman, who is vying for a fourth-term, is being challenged by Democrat Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the Colorado House…

By contrast, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to date has reserved $1.4 million in the Denver market this fall to help Romanoff.

Per the most recently-available campaign finance reports, Democrat Andrew Romanoff has about $2.3 million in cash on hand, compared to $1.96 million for incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, but those figures are starting to become largely meaningless as third-party spending levels increase. According to OpenSecrets.org, more than $6 million has been raised by Romanoff and Coffman — the fourth-highest total of any House race in the country. If we include the money already pledged by the NRCC and the DCCC, respectively, we've already surpassed $10 million — and that doesn't include what has already been spent or pledged by third-party groups.

According to Roll Call, the most expensive House race in 2012 was for Florida's 18th District, with combined spending from candidates and outside groups adding up to $29 million; the campaign for Republican Rep. Allen West raised and spent nearly $18 million alone, however, making that race a bit of an outlier. The next four most-expensive races on Roll Call's list were in the $15-17 million range — a figure that the 2014 race for CD-6 should obliterate by about August.

There was some discussion following the 2012 Presidential Race about the idea that both President Obama and Mitt Romney raised and spent so much money that they were almost cancelling each other out on television; what ultimately made the difference, in terms of resources, was probably the Obama Campaign's unprecedented list-building and voter-ID programs. (This would only be true for the General Election, of course, since fundraising is still vitally important during the long and plodding Primary process).

From our vantage point, it is quite possible that campaign spending in CD-6 will end up being a non-factor in deciding the outcome of the race. If that proves true, it will be other intangibles that make the difference in November. It's difficult to try to guess what will ultimately be the next "Tipping Point" in the race, which is where you come in, Polsters. What say you? If the money ends up being about even, what will push one candidate past the other?

 

Cough-Coffman…Mike and Cynthia Voting Story Gets Weirder

On Friday we discussed an odd bit of trivia related to Mike and Cynthia Coffman; while Congressman Mike can vote for Cynthia in the race for Attorney General, Cynthia cannot vote for Mike because she doesn't live in his Congressional District. The original story from Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post included an explanation (of sorts) from a spokesperson with Cynthia Coffman's campaign for AG:

“Cynthia and Mike owned their own homes before they were married,” said Sarah Lenti, a spokeswoman for the attorney general campaign. “Mike works in Washington, D.C., but for the weekends, and Cynthia lives and works in Denver as chief deputy attorney general.”

Lenti added that Cynthia Coffman lives in the home “closest to her work.”

We thought that this initial response to a seemingly minor story was oddly unemotional, since this is the kind of query that can often be deflected with a joke. But now we understand why they may have been more cautious. As a search of public voter records makes clear, Cynthia Coffman has indeed voted for Mike, registering to vote at his Aurora address in November 2007. What neither Coffman has explained, however, it why Cynthia changed her voter registration in March 2011 back to her home in Denver.

We've mapped out the changes in the graphic below. It certainly doesn't appear as though the Coffmans are doing anything illegal — though we see no reason why Cynthia would change her voter registration back and forth so often — but as we've said from the beginning of this story, the whole thing is just…weird.

Coffman Family Voting Tree

If you think this is confusing, you should have seen the pie chart.

Mike Coffman’s Wife Can’t Vote for Him

Cynthia Coffman

Maybe Cynthia Coffman just needs more closet space.

Kurtis Lee of the Denver Post has a fascinatingly odd story about Rep. Mike Coffman and his wife, Cynthia Coffman:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman is in the battle of his political career this November where every vote matters but one vote he won’t receive — at least as of now — comes from one of his staunchest allies: his wife Cynthia Coffman.

Cynthia Coffman, the state’s chief deputy attorney general who is the GOP nominee for attorney general, isn’t a registered voter in the Aurora-based 6th Congressional District her husband represents. Instead, she’s a registered voter in the Denver-based 1st Congressional District [6].

Cynthia Coffman has been a registered voter in Denver since 2011. In 2012, she didn’t cast a vote for her husband, who won re-election to his competitive seat that year by about 2 percentage points.

Lee goes on to quote a spokesperson from Cynthia Coffman's campaign with a weirdly antiseptic explanation about how they lived in different houses before they got married and Cynthia lives in the house closest to her office (Mike Coffman's campaign — shocker! — did not return a request for comment). You'd think that either Coffman would want to interject some humor or emotion at some point here, because it just seems a little strange; why would Cynthia not just change her voter registration to Mike's address? This isn't overly complicated.

 

VA Secretary Shinseki Resigns

As CNN reports:

Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday, President Barack Obama announced.

Obama said he would demand accountability if problems were found at VA medical facilities and accepted Shinseki’s resignation. The two met at the White House before the president announced the development, which came as political pressure mounted for the Cabinet officer to step down.

“I regret he has to resign under these circumstances,” Obama said.

Obama said Shinseki “told me this morning the VA needs new leadership to address” widespread problems in the VA system and that Shinseki “does not want to be a distraction.”

Aurora Sentinel Finds Coffman Votes Don’t Match VA Rhetoric

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Coffman will now take your questions…nah, just kidding.

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is one of many Members of Congress to call for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki as part of the ongoing scandal surrounding care at VA Hospitals around the country. But as Aaron Cole reports in the Aurora Sentinel, Coffman's voting record doesn't exactly match his rhetoric:

Aurora U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, as recently as January voted against a spending bill that would have set aside as much as $100 million for overtime and additional training for claims processors to reduce the growing backlog of veterans waiting for care. Coffman joined 66 other Republicans in the House, including Colorado congressmen Doug Lamborn, Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton, in voting against that appropriations bill. VA officials and the Obama Administration are embroiled in a nationwide controversy over shoddy medical care for veterans…

Coffman did not comment on his vote after repeated requests. [Pols emphasis] The Marines veteran and longtime Colorado politician is running for a fourth term to his 6th Congressional District against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a Democrat. The race is predicted to be one of the most expensive and competitive during the 2014 midterm election. Both sides are now targeting VA issues as election fodder.

Locally, Coffman has been critical of the VA’s handling of a replacement hospital being built in Aurora, which is the focus of a controversy about being over budget. Hundreds of millions in funding for the maligned Aurora VA hospital have also been packaged in larger spending bills that have faced opposition by Coffman and other GOP lawmakers. Two large bills that provided nearly $200 million in funding for the hospital in Aurora were opposed by Coffman in the years leading up to this most recent spate of criticism for mismanagement. A funding bill in 2009 for $119 million and a funding bill in 2011 for $42 million set aside for the VA hospital in Aurora were both opposed by Coffman. The 2011 appropriations bill would have been drafted by Republicans in control of Congress.

While it is certainly no real surprise to see Coffman saying one thing and doing another — he is, after all, a man who adjusts ideological positions like the rest of us change socks — but we're perplexed at Coffman's continued inability to deal with the media in an intelligent manner. You'd think Coffman would have learned more from his "Obama is not an American" debacle two years ago, but he and/or his campaign seem incapable of understanding that working with the media is a two-way street.

There are plenty of vanilla responses that Team Coffman could have provided to the Aurora Sentinel, and any of them would have been better than ending up with the sentence, "Coffman did not comment on his vote after repeated requests."

It's difficult to maintain that you have nothing to hide when your default response is…well, to hide.

 

 

DCCC Commits $1.4 Million To CD-6

CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff (D).

CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff (D).

​As reported by the AP via ABC News:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday began reserving advertising time with television stations across the country. Where and when the House Democrats' campaign arm is looking to spend money…

—$1.4 million on Denver broadcast and cable ads from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4 to challenge Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican.

Different media markets have different cost factors, but in absolute terms, only a few races are seeing more investment from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)–races in pricey markets like New York and Philadephia, and a particularly tight freshman protect effort in Phoenix. Once you account for the difference in ad rates for these markets, clearly no practical expense is being spared in the drive to unseat Rep. Mike Coffman. Spending by the DCCC and like entities on the other side is a reliable indicator of where strategists believe their best chances lie.

It's just another confirmation of what our readers already know–CD-6 is the marquee congressional race in Colorado this year.

Why Andrew Romanoff Scares Mike Coffman in One Video

Earlier this week, Democrat Andrew Romanoff's campaign for Congress in CD-6 released its first online video to draw attention to what is already the most closely-watched House race in the country. The fact that Romanoff's campaign made a nice online video is not particularly notable in and of itself, nor is Romanoff's message in said video. But when you watch Romanoff's performance and compare it to the first significant TV ad from 2012 Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi, there is a stark difference; Romanoff is exponentially more likable on camera than Miklosi or Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman.

Both Romanoff and Coffman are raising veritable shitloads of money, and third-party expenditures on each side will push total spending in this race near the $20 million mark when all is said and done. Since both candidates should have plenty of resources for TV, mail, and voter outreach, the outcome in a close race will be decided on points such as likability. And that — more than any other issue in this race — is why Coffman and National Republicans are so concerned about Romanoff. Take a look at Romanoff's video below, then compare it to Miklosi's 2012 campaign ad after the jump:

 

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2006 immigration laws backed by Romanoff deflected hard-line anti-immigration initiative favored by Coffman

(Oops – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Back in 2006, then State Treasurer Mike Coffman stood in font of 200 people on the steps of the state Capitol as they launched a ballot initiative that would have stopped Colorado from providing services to all undocumented immigrants, even children.

Coffman led the group in reciting the pledge of allegiance, and then handed the microphone over to a string of speakers from an organization called Defend Colorado Now, which was organizing the extreme anti-immigrant initiative.

After the rally, Coffman told a reporter from the Longmont Daily Times- Call that he supported Defend Colorado Now’s ballot initiative.

Coffman "said afterward that he supports Defend Colorado Now’s ballot initiative," reported the Daily Times-Call April 28, 2006.

The history of Defend Colorado Now's initiative is worth dredging up for reporters, for context, as Republicans step up their attacks on former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff for his role is passing legislation in direct response to the ballot initiative.

If you were around in 2006, you may remember a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including then Gov. Bill Owens and Romanoff, agreed on compromise legislation to stop the hard-line initiative from being placed on the ballot.

A set of 2006 laws, passed during a special session by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed by Republican Owens, softened the draconian approach of the Defend Colorado Now initiative, known also as Amendment 55.

The Denver Post reported in July of 2006:

Former Mayor Federico Peña likes the special-session legislation better than the proposed Amendment 55, which would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving state services that are not mandated by federal law.

"It's far better than the negative consequences of 55," he said.

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Romanoff Fires Back At Misleading Pro-Coffman Ad

The Washington Post reports today on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new ad campaign in support of Republican candidates, including Colorado's Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman:

Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber will start running 13 new ads today on behalf of Senate and House Republicans in what spokeswoman Blair Holmes described as a "massive campaign." The chamber on Tuesday dropped almost $660,000 on broadcast and cable ads in the Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction markets on behalf of Senate candidate Cory Gardner. They'll feature a small business owner in a new ad for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, too.

– The Chamber is spending on behalf of former Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), former Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), former Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Tisei (R), Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), businessman Stuart Mills in Minnesota's 8th District, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).

We'll get to the U.S. Chamber's ad for Cory Gardner in due course. You can see the Chamber's ad running on behalf of Rep. Mike Coffman at the top of this post, an over-the-top fluffy, positive 30-second spot–check out the incredibly cheesy grin on the photo of Coffman at 0:13 if you don't believe us. Nonetheless, Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff was quick to respond in a release a short while ago that the ad is seeking to "erase" Coffman's record on immigration:

A new television ad released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attempts to recast one of Colorado’s leading opponents of immigration reform. The ad describes Congressman Mike Coffman as a fighter for “bipartisan immigration reform,” a fabrication at odds with Coffman’s long record of opposition to reform.

“Congressman Coffman has voted against immigration reform at every turn, and no amount of special-interest money can erase his record,” Romanoff spokeswoman Denise Baron said in response to the ad. “Congressman Coffman called the DREAM Act a ‘nightmare’ and voted twice in the last year to resume deportation of 800,000 DREAMers. Congressman Coffman cosponsored a proposal to deny U.S. citizenship to the American-born children of undocumented residents.

“Andrew is the only candidate in this race who supports a comprehensive measure to reform our broken immigration system. Unlike his opponent, Andrew has endorsed the bipartisan Senate bill and has called on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on that bill in the House.”

As we've discussed in this space at length, all salient points. The fact is, Coffman has not signed on to the bipartisan immigration reform bill in the House, H.R.15, though other "pro-immigration" Republicans like Rep. Jeff Denham have done so. That's what most people would think about a supporter of "bipartisan immigration reform," after all–that the "supporter" in question has actually signed on to a bipartisan immigration reform bill.

As of now, Coffman's support for "bipartisan immigration reform" exists only in the form of lip service.

Anti-Obamacare Strategy Leaving Republicans in the Cold

Republicans out in the cold on Obamacare

D’oh!

Longtime Colorado Pols reader Republican 36 posted a fascinating diary last night about Republican Rep. Mike Coffman raising money with a different message on Obamacare. You can read the entire diary here, but here's the key excerpt:

Today I received a letter soliciting a campaign contribution from Coffman that contained a "confidential memo from Tyler Sandberg, his campaign manager, deriding Obamacare and making the usual false claims that "350,000" (everyone else says its 335,000) Coloradans had their health insurance canceled (forgetting to mention 92% received renewal notices in the same envelope with the cancelation of last year's policy) and claiming Obamacare "will be a significant issue this election," and claiming "It is a very real issue causing very real harm to Colorado families." In other words, at least in Mr. Sandberg's opinion, he lines up with the "Old Coffman" and wants Obamacare repealed.

However, Coffman's cover letter takes an altogether different position on Obamacare. In his fear based plea for contributions, he tees off on Nancy Pelosi and makes the following statement:

coffmanletter

This is a subtle message from Mike Coffman's campaign that contains a startling reality: The incumbent Republican in perhaps the most competitive Congressional seat in America is no longer soliciting support based on a message of "repeal Obamacare." This is not a message that Coffman's campaign was likely to just toss out there without having numbers to back it up, which makes it very likely that Republicans are seeing polling numbers indicating that voters are getting tired of the anti-Obamacare message and looking for candidates to talk about how to "amend" or "reform" the law instead.

There's plenty of reason to believe that Coffman's move to an "amend and reform" message is not just a flash in the pan. As our friends at "The Fix" noted on Monday, President Obama is encouraging Democratic candidates to run with an overt pro-Obamacare message:

President Obama announced last week that more than eight million people had signed up for insurance via the federal marketplace, a surge of last-minute activity that not even the most optimistic administration allies could have hoped for. And, then there was the news from the Congressional Budget Office that the health-care law will cost $100 billion less than projected over the next decade.

Amid a (rare) victory lap on the law, Obama was asked whether the news of the past week meant Democratic candidates should run on the law this fall rather than away from it. His answer?  "I think Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact….we're helping because of something we did."

Late last month, after a series of anti-Obamacare ads were being debunked across the country, the Washington Post took note of what it called "The incredible shrinking Obamacare sob story." The problems with an anti-Obamacare message have continued here in our state; as Colorado Pols was first to report yesterday, the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity group is apparently having difficulty finding a "real" person who is a "victim" of Obamacare.

All of this is very bad news for Republican candidates in Colorado who were hoping to ride an anti-Obamacare message to victory in November. Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner, for one, is basing his entire campaign on trying to tie Obamacare to Sen. Mark Udall. If this message isn't working, Gardner won't be the only Republican looking for a new job.

Chuck Plunkett and the First Rule of Holes

Chuck Plunkett holes

Chuck Plunkett hopes to escape this hole by digging furiously.

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett has obviously never heard about the number one rule of holes: STOP DIGGING!

Yesterday we followed a rather bizarre decision by Plunkett to remove a story posted to the newspaper's political blog "The Spot." Plunkett took down a story Tuesday night about Republican Congressman Mike Coffman written by reporter Kurtis Lee (you can read about that original post here) that had appeared earlier in the day. Plunkett then offered up a rambling blog post of his own in an effort to explain his decision…which made absolutely no sense.

Well, on Thursday afternoon, Plunkett doubled-down on his own defense with an even more confusion explanation of his other explanation. Only in this explanation, Plunkett concludes with a convincing argument for why the story should have never been removed in the first place (which was clearly not his intention, but, whatever). Here's the lede of Plunkett's post this afternoon, titled, "No Facts Hidden from Mike Coffman Story."

On Wednesday I published a post on this site that meant to explain why a story about Mike Coffman’s views on personhood and abortion was taken off The Denver Post’s online edition the night before.

A day later I see that some are suggesting that the story has somehow been suppressed.

I submit that this is not accurate.

My blog post on Wednesday was written and published to provide the central facts that had been in the story that I had taken down. I provided these facts in the context that I felt the story lacked.

We'd like to give Plunkett the benefit of the doubt here, but it speaks volumes about his decision when he feels compelled to write two separate blog posts about why he pulled a story after it appeared online — and then titles it, "No Facts Hidden." This is sort of like a little kid standing over a mess on the floor saying, "I didn't do it" even before you had a chance to ask.

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Ryan Budget Barely Passes; Colo. GOP Delegation All Vote Yes

UPDATE: Mike Coffman's Democratic opponent Andrew Romanoff responds:

The Ryan budget does not reflect the values most Americans share. It would force middle-class families to pay more in taxes, students to pay more for college, and seniors to pay more for health care. The House I led balanced the budget every year. But we didn’t do so on the back of the middle class. Some estimates suggest the Ryan plan would cost the country as many as three million jobs. Among the other casualties: 170,000 at-risk children, who would lose access to Head Start.

The winners? Those in the highest income bracket, pharmaceutical manufacturers and corporations that offshore their employees.

If you’re serious about growing the economy, you don’t eliminate job training. You eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

If you’re serious about balancing the budget, you allow Medicare to negotiate deeper discounts in prescription-drug prices – instead of sticking seniors with higher bills.

If you’re serious about strengthening the middle class, you vote against the Ryan budget. 

—–

Gardner Ryan Budget

Cory Gardner loves him some Paul Ryan

As the National Journal reports, the latest "Ryan Budget" has passed the House (barely). All of Colorado's Republican Members of Congress voted 'YES' on the budget — Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

The House on Thursday narrowly passed Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican budget carrying $5.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years without closing tax loopholes, as Ryan and other GOP leaders averted a potentially embarrassing defeat on the bill because of party defections.

The measure passed 219 to 205, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting no. A swing of just seven Republican votes would have defeated the measure…

…Even some Republicans acknowledge passage of the Ryan budget is more an aspirational declaration of their party's priorities and vision of government spending.

But the vote Thursday showed that it is not necessarily a reflection of all House Republicans' vision. Some conservative defections were anticipated.

Having already flip-flopped on major issues such as Personhood, we're a little surprised to see both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman sticking with Rep. Paul Ryan on a vote that will almost certainly hurt them with General Election voters.

Another Big Haul For Romanoff: $600,000 in Q1

Andrew Romanoff.

Andrew Romanoff.

A press release from Democratic CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff moments ago:

Andrew Romanoff, candidate for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, raised $603,520 in the first quarter of 2014, bringing his total contributions to more than $2.6 million. Romanoff ended the quarter with nearly $2.1 million in cash on hand.

Romanoff recorded his strongest fundraising period to date. FEC reports indicate he has now outpaced every other House challenger in Colorado history.

“Coloradans want to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class,” Romanoff said. “That means creating clean-energy jobs, making college more affordable, ensuring equal pay for equal work – exactly the kind of priorities I’ll pursue in Congress.”

Romanoff does not accept contributions from special-interest groups. His support reflects a broad cross-section of Coloradans:

The campaign has received contributions from 10,043 supporters to date, including 4,020 donors in the first quarter of 2014.
More than 91 percent of the campaign’s first-quarter donors live in Colorado.
More than 84 percent of the campaign’s first-quarter contributions were $100 or less.
The campaign has raised $2,607,982 to date and ended the first quarter with $2,098,619 on hand.

We haven't heard from GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, widely known as a fundraising powerhouse, but Romanoff beat Coffman in the final two quarters last year–a momentum-changing development all by itself that this latest strong performance will only reinforce. It's worth restating how Romanoff's strong fundraising comes despite self-imposed handicaps we ourselves have criticized, and is even more impressive as a result.

We'll update when we hear from Coffman, who won't do himself any favors by coming in second again.