As Justin Wingerter reports this afternoon for the Denver Post, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) announced fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2019 that are curiously unremarkable:
Gardner raised $2 million in the first three months of 2019 and has more than $3.4 million on hand, his campaign said Thursday…
…“Senator Gardner’s strong fundraising quarter is another indicator of the wide range of support and confidence in the job he’s doing and the belief in his work to get things done for the state in a bipartisan manner,” said Casey Contres, the senator’s campaign manager.
“Strong fundraising,” “wide range of support,” “bipartisan,” blah, blah, blah…
These are things that your campaign spokesperson says after any fundraising period, but a $2 million quarter is milquetoast for the most endangered Republican incumbent Senator in 2020. Gardner raised $1.4 million in about a month when he first entered the race for U.S. Senate in Spring 2014. By comparison, incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Boulderish) raised a little more than $2 million in the first quarter of 2014. That was 5 years ago.
Gardner is not just the most endangered Senate incumbent this cycle — he’s also coming off a two-year run as Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The whole point of being Chair of the NRSC is to strengthen your fundraising connections; instead, Gardner barely outraised Democratic challenger Mike Johnston ($1.8 million).
Note that Gardner is the only Republican candidate for Senate in Colorado, while Johnston has a half-dozen Primary opponents. Candidates who don’t have to worry about a Primary normally do better in fundraising; Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, for example, pulled down more than $4 million after announcing his Senate campaign on Feb. 14. Gardner’s fundraising quarter is also remarkably dull considering that he already has a number of big-name surrogates working on his behalf.
Gardner has strung together some terrible weeks into a pretty bad run, lowlighted by the Denver Post’s jaw-dropping UN-dorsement in March. In the midst of so many troubles, a $2 million fundraising quarter is…fine.
The problem for Gardner is that “fine” isn’t going to get him re-elected.