To them, your vote is worth $144,361

Campaign money stacks up

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Election 2006

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In the wallet

Campaign finance records show the amount of "cash on hand" for county and regional candidates as of Oct. 12. Cash on hand is money available for advertising and campaign expenses in the final days before the Nov. 7 election.

Routt County sheriff

R - Garrett Wiggins: $4,306

D - Gary Wall: $4,481

County commissioner

R - Paul Strong: $3,805

D - Diane Mitsch Bush: $162

County assessor

R - Dick Klumker: $1,139 (last report filed in July)

D - Mike Kerrigan: $835

Unaffiliated - Nancy Terry: -$26

State House District 57

R - Al White: $31,626

D - Andy Gold: $5,535

Libertarian - Mike Kien: $7

Steamboat Springs School District

Referendums 3C and 3D: $9,000 raised and $7,117 on hand

— A seasoned state politician out-raised his challenger by a 7-to-1 ratio. The two candidates for Routt County sheriff have fundraising totals just $35 apart. One candidate for Routt County commissioner has spent nearly $10,000 more on campaigning than the other.

An examination of campaign finance records, available to the public online through the Colorado Secretary of State's Web site, can satisfy the curiosity of any voter, accountant or gossip-hound. Contributions - to whom, from whom, how much and when - all are listed, along with how candidates spent those contributions and how much cash they have available.

Coming down the home stretch of the 2006 campaign season, several Routt County candidates acknowledge that if you want an election-night victory bash, you've got to have cash.

"Unfortunately, money is a big part of these races," said Paul Strong, Republican candidate for Routt County commissioner.

"You can't run a campaign without money," agreed Democratic sheriff candidate Gary Wall. "You have to buy ads."

Although finance records for local and regional campaigns reveal no significant surprises, they do indicate how different campaigns have been run - and who, exactly, is paying for all those lawn signs.

Richer than Gold

Excluding statewide races and the 3rd Congressional District contest, the top fundraiser on Routt County bal-

lots is incumbent state Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park.

In his sixth year as a legislator, White has been raising funds and filing finance reports year-round since his first election campaign in 2000. He has collected a total of $196,265 in that time. In this election cycle alone, White has raised $76,142.

Grand County Democrat Andy Gold, who is challenging White for the House District 57 seat, began filing reports in March. Gold has raised $11,094. According to White's most recent report, White raised nearly that amount in the period between Sept. 28 and Oct. 11, during which the incumbent legislator received $8,840 in contributions.

The contributors to each candidate differ significantly.

Gold's latest report shows 13 contributions, all from individuals and most of them for $25. The largest contribution is $200, and only one contributor is from outside the boundaries of the House district.

White's latest report shows 63 contributions, which include donations from individuals in the district but also from Denver groups such as the Rocky Mountain Home Association, the Colorado Chiropractic Association and Colorado Builders and Contractors. Most of White's contributions are for $100. The largest are $400.

Oak Creek Libertarian Mike Kien, also on the ballot for the state House seat, has raised $310 since Oct. 12.

Sheriffs all square

After months of campaigning, the two candidates for Routt County sheriff have received nearly identical amounts of contributions. As of Oct. 12, Republican Garrett Wiggins has raised $14,300, and Democrat Gary Wall has raised $14,265.

But those numbers contain some quirks.

Wiggins has been campaigning since the spring because of a Republican primary with Sgt. Ray Birch of the Routt County Sheriff's Office. After winning the primary, Wiggins received $2,500 from the Routt County Republican Party. The county Democratic Party has not given large monetary donations to its candidates.

In May, Wiggins received a $6,222 in-kind donation from Mark and Bonnie Porter of Oak Creek. In-kind donations are the monetary equivalent of services rendered or work done for a campaign. Wiggins said the money was for a campaign party the Porters threw for him. In-kind donations are not uncommon.

Wall, for example, recently received a $1,500 in-kind donation from Gwen Powers of Steamboat Springs. Wall said the donation represents a discounted rate for lawn signs.

"It's difficult for me to go to people and ask for money," Wall said. "There have been some people that have stepped up and contributed considerable, generous amounts."

Wall has filed expenses that include $960 for 400 promotional "sheriff's badges," more than $2,400 for radio ads and more than $3,000 for signs and stickers.

Wall said he recently spent about $4,100 on a "saturation mailing" of promotional postcards to 13,500 Routt County residents. That expense will be filed in the next reporting period, he said.

Wiggins' expenses include $173 for candy distributed at the Fourth of July Parade in Steamboat Springs, more than $2,500 for ads in the Steamboat Pilot & Today, nearly $2,000 for radio ads and a $47 payment in July to the office of Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland, listed as a payment for "voters records."

$10,000 gap

Diane Mitsch Bush, Democratic candidate for Routt County commissioner, has outspent Republican candidate Paul Strong by nearly $10,000.

Mitsch Bush said her total expenditures of $14,048, compared to $4,494 for Strong, began early this year, when former Steamboat Springs City Council President Bill Martin announced his Democratic candidacy for commissioner March 15.

"I had to have full-color packets for the March 21 caucuses, along with brochures and all kinds of things," Mitsch Bush said.

Martin withdrew his candidacy March 27, citing a lack of support at the caucuses.

The long campaign season also has given Mitsch Bush an edge in fundraising against Strong. Mitsch Bush has raised a total of $12,715, compared to Strong's $8,155.

"I expect her to substantially out-raise me and outspend me in this race," Strong said. "I'm doing what I think is appropriate for a county-level campaign. I don't feel a need to go out and match her dollar for dollar."

Strong has received contributions from outgoing County Commissioner Dan Ellison, former City Council member Kevin Kaminski, local business owner Ty Lockhart and developer Whitney Ward.

Records state that Ward's $250 donation to Strong's campaign occurred Sept. 28. Strong is a seven-year member of the City Council, which this summer approved development plans for Wildhorse Meadows and One Steamboat Place, two mixed-use developments that Ward is financing.

Mitsch Bush has received contributions from City Council President Ken Brenner, former council president Kevin Bennett, former council member Arianthe Stettner and Margaret Berglund of the Community Agriculture Alliance.

All contributors listed gave their donations as individuals, not as representatives of groups with which they are affiliated.

The next financial filing date is Monday for state House candidates, and Friday for county candidates.

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