Two donors, oil and gas investor Mitchell Solich and mozzarella billionaire James Leprino, dropped a total of $40,000 in late September into the Jefferson County Commissioner race supporting Commissioner Don Rosier over US Marine Lt. Colonel and Delta pilot John Flerlage. Solich's money is on top of $11,000 he pitched in earlier and $1000 from Solich's business partner Roger Flahive.
This cold blast to the Democrats shows two things: the impact of unlimited contributions on a race, especially late to the party, and how dicey everything is in Jeffco. Rosier's total campaign dollars at the end of the previous reporting period were $29,808.
James Leprino pitches $10,000 to Commissioner Rosier
James Leprino's $10,000 comes after the August completion of a $350,000 improvement to his jet hangar at Jefferson County Airport, paid for in a budget supplemental by the county. The county put $200,000 into fuel line construction and $150,000 into taxi-lane improvements. (See August 5, 2014 report).
Mitchell Solich tosses $41,000 to Rosier
Mitchell Solich is senior managing director and Roger Flahive is managing director of SFC Energy Partners. The company holds many investments in oil and gas development enterprises.
Solich's late September $30,000 comes just after county commissioners voted on changes to oil and gas set back rules for drilling from 600 feet to 500 feet. The change conforms Jeffco to state regulations, but locals wonder "why now" when the Governor's oil and gas task force will report in March.
Voters in south Jeffco will be most affected by drilling, as some early oil and gas exploration is going on behind the Hog Back, near the Ken Caryl Valley in the south on up to Red Rocks and Morrison. "The Turkey Creek outcrop is oil-saturated," said Dr. Steve Sonnenberg from Colorado School of Mines in an article in the Columbine Courier.
Drilling in these areas hits three highly contested Senate seats in addition to the commissioner race: SD 20 Jahn v Queen, SD 16 Nicholson v Neville, and SD 22 Kerr v Sanchez. The County owns open space but may or may not own mineral rights, depending on location.
Rosier was earlier under pressure from south Jeffco voters outraged by a possible flag-pole annexation of Southwest Plaza to the tiny town of BowMar. Rosier supported the county's further exploration of the deal, but BowMar eventually bowed out. Rosier also did not step in to protect Chatfield Reservoir from its deployment away from its recreational purpose of 45 years.
Dems hold candidate campaign funds advantage
Despite this late influx of cash into Jeffco, Democratic state Senate candidates overall have a 3:1 advantage over Republicans running for the legislature. Republicans, following the GOP Jeffco commissioner race model, have the big pockets of big PACS to do late ads and mail, however.
Individual Democrats have to spend more time raising money. But that also puts them in touch with many more voters. This election cycle tests the logic of the divergent strategies.
HD-22 Dem candidate Parker has her own strategy
State House candidate Mary Parker, a Democrat in a non-targeted race, is running her own course against Rep. Justin Everett. She's focusing on Everett's records for the 2014 session: most NO votes, most missed committee hearings until his party got on him in March, most snoozes, and 49 general assembly tardies over 32 weeks. Her "Justin Everett Absent" video on her opponent's late attendance to the House assembly is both funny and not funny.
Here's the latest Senate count:
15 Senate seats are to the Republicans (doesn't include Sens. Herpin and Rivera)
13 Senate seats are to the Dems (includes Garcia)
3 seats are likely Dem: Merrifield-Herpin ($1.8:1), Jahn-Queen ($4:1), Solano-Humenik ($4:1)
4 seats are up in the air: Zenzinger-Woods/Waters ($2:1); Donovan-Suppes ($1.5:1); Kerr-Sanchez ($2.5:1); Nicholson-Neville ($2:1)
To capture a majority, Republicans need to win 3 of 4 up-in-the-air seats or grab some number of the likely Dem seats. If Dems carry the 3 likely seats, they need to capture 2 of 4 toss-up seats.
Contested Senate races give Dems the edge
Sen. Kerr in SD-22 has a money and campaign experience advantage over Sanchez. He gets the edge. The Donovan-Suppes race may turn on some of Suppes' twitter postings on ethnicity and debate statements about the United Nations.
The Jeffco Nicholson-Neville and Zenzinger-Woods/Waters races, along with Kerr's and Jahn's, may turn on impacts of the AP history controversy in Jeffco. Neville's wife Barb has helped sharpen her sister's school board message, but that's very bad timing for Neville.
Right now, the Democratic betting line for state Senate simple majority is 60-40; for a majority of 20-15, it's 50-50.
House secure for Dems
The Democratic majority on the House side is secure at 34. Republicans have 24 safe seats. The following seats are toss-ups:
McLachlan-Brown; money advantage McLachlan, registration advantage Brown; performance advantage McLachlan
Primavera-Tinlin; money advantage Primavera; registration even; performance advantage Primavera
Contested House races include:
Kagan-Benge; money and performance advantage Kagan; registration even
Doyle-Keyser; registration advantage Keyser, party flip advantage Doyle, money close
Cronk-Tate; registration advantage Tate, slight money advantage Cronk because of primary
Young-Aricayos; registration, performance, and money advantage Young
Tyler-Barnes; registration, performance, and money advantage Tyler
Parker-Everett; registration and performance advantage Everett; party flip advantage Parker; money close