Curry dominated fund-raising race
Bolstered by Democratic Party support, Kathleen Curry raised about two and a half times as much money as Republican Becky Rippy in their race for the District 61 seat in the Colorado House of Representatives this year.Curry, a Gunnison Democrat, said she raised more than $68,000 for the campaign. Rippy, a New Castle Republican, reported that her campaign took in about $27,000.Curry defeated Rippy in the race to replace Rippy’s cousin-in-law, Gregg Rippy, in District 61. The district includes eastern Garfield County, along with Pitkin, Gunnison and Hillsdale counties and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.Curry said Democrats targeted District 61 and donated about $10,000, paying for campaign staff. Campaign laws let parties give up to $13,000 to House races, she said. She called the party’s assistance “huge.””It’s a big enough district that you really need help,” she said.She said she had hoped to raise $50,000 for her campaign.Rippy said she knew the race was a targeted one, and had expected financial assistance from the Republican Party at the state level.”They said they were going to help, but then they didn’t, so it was kind of disappointing,” she said.The Republican Party in Garfield County gave her $1,000, she said.Rippy said she had heard that the Republicans had felt that while they would lose some House seats in the fall’s election, they would keep enough to maintain majority control, so instead they directed their funds to congressional and state Senate races.As it turned out, the Democrats won control of both the state House and Senate.Scott Russell, political director for the state Republican Party, said the Democrats gerrymandered District 61 in the last redistricting to make it hard for Republicans to win. Gregg Rippy managed to keep it in Republican hands as the incumbent, but when the seat became open, Republicans decided to focus on races they had more chance of winning, he said.”Obviously we wanted to spend money in as many races as possible, but you have to make tough decisions,” he said.”At this point it’s just a very, very tough seat for Republicans to hold.”Rippy said it’s hard to know whether she would have won with more party support, but she thinks the race would have been closer. She took 36.7 percent of the vote and Curry 60.8 percent, with Libertarian Dale Reed of No Name winning about 2.5 percent of the vote.Rippy said so-called 527 groups that supported Democrats separately from the party hurt her campaign further. Combined, four of those groups spent millions of dollars on state legislative races, she said. She said she believes these groups provided a lesson for Republicans about the need to take advantage of such groups.”I would hope that they would see it made a huge impact in all the House and Senate races – much bigger, I think, than they were anticipating.”Russell agreed that Democrats outspent Republicans on state legislative races when 527 spending is included.”It just goes to show that Amendment 27 did nothing to get the money out of campaigns – it just kind of makes the money more hidden and harder to find,” he said.Voters approved Amendment 27, a state campaign finance reform measure, in 2002. It limits donations to candidates and state parties.Individual contributions to state House candidates cannot exceed $200 per primary and $200 per general election. However, Curry said she was allowed to accept twice as much – up to $800 per individual – because she accepted Amendment 27’s voluntary total campaign spending limit of $65,000 for a House race, and Rippy didn’t.”That helped me a lot,” she said.She said she is allowed to keep what remains from her campaign fund for future races.Rippy isn’t second-guessing her decision not to agree to the spending limit.”It’s hard for me to look at that and say, ‘Oh, I should have done this and I should have done that.’ I don’t know that it would have made a difference,” she said.She said she found it challenging to campaign while also worrying about seeking donations.”It’s really difficult to do it if you don’t have a lot of help raising funds,” she said.But she still values the experience of running for office.”I never regret challenging myself on stuff like that,” she said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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