Today is the deadline for candidates for federal office to file fundraising reports for the last quarter of 2021. Many Colorado candidates have already announced their fundraising totals for the last quarter, removing much of the suspense from today’s news, but we’ve been waiting on numbers for one particular candidate: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Ron Hanks.
Those numbers are now in, and they are not good.
The Cañon City Republican raised a mere $16,000 in Q4 and finished 2021 with just $13,333 in the bank. These would be disappointing numbers for a STATE Senate candidate. For any other U.S. Senate candidate not named Ron Hanks, this sort of fundraising quarter would be completely devastating. But Hanks exists in a different world than the rest of the GOP field for Senate.
The last time Republicans battled it out for the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) was in 2016, when little-known El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn ended up capturing the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate despite a similar inability to raise money. As bad as Hanks did on the fundraising front in Q4 (2021), he actually raised more money than Glenn over a similar period of time:
None of the numbers in the chart above are at all impressive, but they are still instructive. Glenn wasn’t trying to win the money race in 2016, either, and he still ended up with the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
Six years ago, the general consensus heading into the State GOP Assembly was that State Sen. Tim Neville would dominate the grassroots vote while other candidates — including Jon Keyser, Jack Graham, Robert Blaha, and Ryan Frazier — battled it out for Primary ballot access via the petition process. Neville ended up tanking at the State Assembly and opening the door for Glenn, who stunningly captured first place — and top line on the June Primary ballot — after delivering a fiery speech on the day of the vote.
Glenn’s fundraising numbers jumped after his Assembly win and subsequent endorsements from folks like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. While Keyser, Graham, Blaha, and Frazier all managed to limp through the petition process and make the ballot, Glenn maintained his insider momentum and walked away with a surprisingly-robust victory in the June Primary.
Hanks is following a similar path to the one blazed by Glenn in 2016. As we noted in our Republican Senate candidate “Debate Diary” last week, Hanks is clearly the candidate drawing the most enthusiastic response from the Republican base. The big difference between 2022 and 2016 is that most of the GOP candidates this time around will seek ballot access through the assembly process; only Denver businessman Joe O’Dea appears to be going the petition route.
Hanks has long been the center of gravity in the race for the 2022 Republican Senate nomination, and for good reason. Following the 2020 election, Colorado Republicans continued to support former President Donald Trump and the “Big Lie,” which allowed conspiracy-minded screamers such as Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert to define the future direction of the State GOP (even the 2021 campaign for State Party Chair focused almost entirely on gathering support from “Big Lie” adherents).
The Republican base is now dominated by election deniers — and they’re eating up what Hanks is dishing out. Hanks doesn’t need a lot of money to reach these people and convince them to support him at the State Assembly. If Hanks can make the Primary ballot through the assembly process, his fundraising problem will take care of itself.
Conventional wisdom would say that Hanks can’t possibly win a U.S. Senate nomination with such poor fundraising results. But like 2016, these are not “conventional” times for Colorado Republicans.
. . . so, the thinking here is that maybe Hanks is also playing hard to get, in addition to just hard to stomach?
Maybe a stealth campaign? (All that CIA/spook/uber-patriot crap’s gotta’ be good for something . . . a fifth installment in the numbskull trilogy?)
If Hanks is going through the caucus/convention process, money is less necessary than for anyone trying to petition onto the primary ballot. He really only needs enough money to pay a cell phone bill or three, buy gas to get him to speaking engagements and meet & greets, and have some coffee and donuts on hand for those who come to see him.
I'm wondering if the Hanks campaign is fueled by volunteers able to "loan" their time now, thinking there will be a pay-off in months to come.
And I'm wondering if there is some sort of understanding that dark money will be spent to defeat RINOs and anyone who doubts Trump in the primary.
Straw poll results are contradictory; Loren”Ron” Hanks came in last in a Lakewood straw poll on January 25. Hanks, of course, cried “Fake News!”
But he came in first in a Grand Junction straw poll on Jan 24. And in a Monument, CO event on January 15.
So I think Hanks has a 50/50 chance of becoming the Republican Senate nominee. Lakewood is in Jeffco, which is the bellwether of Colorado politics, but the fans in Monument and Grand Junction are louder.
And I’ll remind you all that I correctly predicted that Darryl Glenn would be the nominee in 2015, after the assembly audience was impressed by his preachy oratory. The content of the “sermon” was total nonsense, of course, but it was delivered well.
But if the base chose Glenn in 2015 because they loved him, they’ll choose Hanks in 2022 because they fear him. As they should.