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Jeung, McCown outspend rivals

Dennis Webb

If dollars were votes, Larry McCown would be beating Keith Lambert, and Greg Jeung would be ahead of John Martin in their respective races for Garfield County commissioner.Over two campaign finance reporting periods roughly covering August and September, McCown, the Republican from Rifle, raised a total of $11,930 in contributions, according to Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office records.By comparison, McCown’s opponent, Rifle Democrat Keith Lambert, raised $3,005. McCown far outspent Lambert over that period, too – $10,307.93 to $1,645.83. And he started out his campaign in early August with $4,414.23 in cash on hand, compared to $880.05 Lambert had as of July 21. Lambert had $2,239.22 as of Oct. 7, and McCown $6,036.28.Jeung, a Glenwood Springs Democrat, raised about the same amount as McCown over the past two months – $11,947.05. Martin – Jeung’s opponent and a Glenwood Springs Republican and incumbent commissioner – raised only $4,550.Martin spent $6,420.88 over that time frame, compared to $8,655.93 by Jeung. That left Martin with a deficit of $1,241.87 as of Oct. 7, while Jeung had $6,453.13 in cash on hand. Jeung started out in early August with $3,162.01, and Martin with $629.01.Jeung said he’s been encouraged by the financial backing he’s received – particularly the number of donors. By his count, he’s had 175 people contributing $100 or less.”I think we’re really pleased with the amount of grassroots support,” Jeung said.Martin lists only nine contributors, including himself. But he said that’s not accidental.”I paid for my own (campaign) and that way I don’t owe anybody any favors,” Martin said.Martin said he’s always limited donations to a few select contributors, so that he’s “not for sale” as a commissioner. He said he appreciates the offers he receives from others but feels it’s his responsibility to pay for his race for commissioner. Martin has donated $3,000 to his re-election bid.Martin said election campaigns can be about buying signs and marketing, or having voters decide on the worth of candidates.”If I want to go out and beat the bushes and raise money, I can raise money as well as anyone else if that’s all it is,” he said.Jeung says it’s probably more important for him to raise money than for an incumbent like Martin.”As a challenger … I have to fight a harder fight to get my name out there. He’s had the benefit of being in the office and being around the county.”Jeung and his wife, Sean, expressed surprise at the level of support they’ve seen.”We raised a lot of money before we tried to raise any,” Sean Jeung said.Even before a fund-raiser dinner for her husband, she said, “money just started coming in.”Greg Jeung is happy about that, after hearing estimates from political insiders that running for commissioner requires a war chest of about $15,000. Jeung had hoped to spend only about half that, but is finding that the prognosticators may be proving correct.McCown said the cost of running for commissioner “has gone up considerably” since he first ran for office – and won – in 1996.He sees his war chest as only on par with others running this fall and noted that it took a $5,000 loan from his wife to bring it to that level.But he’s got a sizable funding lead over his competitor, Lambert. McCown said he has known many of his contributors for years, and doesn’t know how much incumbency had to do with their donations. He said that more likely, they share beliefs similar to his.Lambert describes McCown’s funding lead as “not a huge deal.””My focus has not been in fund-raising, it’s been in vote-gathering, if you will,” he said.Fund-raising is part of running for office, but not Lambert’s priority, he said.”I think getting the message across is much more important,” Lambert said.He acknowledged that some money is needed for things such as signs and advertising. Ideally, Lambert said, he’d have the chance to meet every voter in person. But that can’t happen. And Lambert said it’s harder for him to be a full-time teacher and to campaign than it is for incumbents, who he said have a more flexible job schedule.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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