Baumgardner strikes back | SteamboatToday.com

Baumgardner strikes back

HD 57 candidate responds to opponent's funding allegations

Brandon Gee

— Republican House District 57 candidate Randy Baumgardner said Thursday that criticism of his campaign donations is unwarranted.

Baumgardner’s opponent, Routt County Democrat Todd Hagenbuch, released a statement Monday criticizing Baumgardner’s donations from interest groups and out-of-district sources. Although the majority of Baumgardner’s campaign money has come from such sources, most of Hagenbuch’s donations are from individuals living in House District 57.

Baumgardner described the attack as a “desperation attempt” in the last week before the election and said he believes Hagenbuch is only questioning his campaign finances because the Democrat trails in fundraising by about $10,000. Hagenbuch denied that reasoning.

“I’m not worried about the numbers,” Hagenbuch said. “I’m concerned about where the money’s coming from.”

The two are battling for the state House seat to be vacated by Rep. Al White, R-Hayden.

Hagenbuch said he expects the race to be decided by a close margin.

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Colorado candidates were required to file financial reports through Oct. 22 with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Monday. It was the last campaign finance deadline before Election Day. The reports showed Baumgardner with $33,620 in total contributions this election cycle. Hagenbuch reported $24,382.

Some of Baumgardner’s largest donations come from political action committees and small donor committees. From Sept. 25 through Oct. 22, they include $2,000 from Service Employees International, $2,000 from the Colorado Association of Public Employees, $400 from American Family Insurance, $400 from Associated Collection Agencies Political Committee Fund, two $200 donations from Waste Management PAC and several more.

In that same month, Hagenbuch only had two donations from such groups: $400 from Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Rural PAC and $500 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Baumgardner defended all of his donations. For example, although CAPE is based in Denver, Baumgardner said Northwest Colorado is “inundated with state employees.”

“They know me and appreciate what I’m trying to do,” he said. “I didn’t ask for the money; they just have some of the same interests in mind that I do.

“Just because someone gives me money doesn’t mean they buy my vote,” Baumgardner continued. “I’m sorry (Hagenbuch) felt like I went outside the district to get money. But House District 57 people are the only ones I have at heart.”

Baumgardner also said he felt Hagenbuch’s criticism was hypocritical because Hagenbuch held a fundraiser for friends, relatives, neighbors, college friends, former teachers and others in Denver, where he grew up, earlier this year.

“The point wasn’t just out-of-district but special interests,” Hagenbuch replied. “I think it’s clear that most of my support is from inside the district and from individuals. That’s the big thing.”

Baumgardner has earned endorsements from The Denver Post and The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction. Earlier this week, Colorado Conservation Voters announced it is endorsing Hagenbuch because its members think he has stronger expertise on water issues.