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Dems raise $1 million in battleground Senate races

Democratic candidates have raised slightly more than $1 million in seven races considered key to control of the state Senate, including nearly $700,000 in five races of high interest to education.

And the Democrats continue to beat their GOP opponents in the fund-raising battle, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed Monday. The Democrats have raised more than twice as much money as the Republican contenders. (Get race-by-race details in the chart below.)

Given the Democrats’ bare 18-17 majority in the Senate, Republicans have been hoping they can take control.

The Senate races of most interest to education include two in Jefferson County, where two members of the Senate Education Committee are facing challengers. Democrat Andy Kerr, chair of the committee, faces Republican Tony Sanchez, and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, also a member of Senate Education, is battling Laura Woods. Kerr and Zenzinger have raised more than $170,000 each, tens of thousands of dollars ahead of their opponents.

Two familiar education faces from past legislative sessions, Democrats Mike Merrifield of Colorado Springs and Judy Solano of Adams County, are seeking Senate seats and have raised more than $100,000 each. In a central mountains Senate seat, Democratic rancher and educator Kerry Donovan has raised more than $110,000.

The other two high-spending Senate races involve Democratic Sen. Jeanne Nicholson in Jeffco and Leroy Garcia, currently a state representative in Pueblo.

Democrats also are raising more money in the two contested State Board of Education races. In the 3rd District, former Pueblo schools Superintendent Henry Roman has raised about 50 percent more money than GOP incumbent Marcia Neal of Grand Junction. In the 7th District Democratic, incumbent Jane Goff has huge fundraising lead on GOP candidate Laura Boggs.

In education-related races for the state House, Democrats have amassed bigger war chests in five of seven races.

Select a candidate or candidates to generate bar graphs at the top of the chart. Story continues after the chart.

Committees spend on ballot measures; fund candidates

By far the biggest spending on a education-related issue is in the battle over Amendment 68, which would allow construction of a full casino at the Arapahoe Park racetrack south of Aurora, with some of the tax revenues earmarked for K-12 schools.

The fight pits two groups of gambling companies against each other, with the two campaign committees raising more than $16 million each, most of it spent on endless TV ads.

Education-related legislative races always draw the attention of outside campaign committees, most of them affiliated with teachers unions and education reform groups. As usual, the biggest spender is the Public Education Committee, a small donor committee affiliated with the Colorado Education Association.

A separate set of committees, those formed to campaign for school district bond and tax override proposals, are just gearing up. Such committees have been created in 20 districts, but many have registered only in the last month so don’t have to file reports until Oct. 14.

A committee named IAM27J, which is backing the Brighton school district’s $148 million bond, reported raising $11,927 as of Monday. (Get the full story here on 2014’s district elections.)

Key to chart: SDC means small donor committee, usually funded by dues or small contributions from a large number of people. IE means independent expenditure committee, which can spend for or against candidates, but spending can’t be coordinated with campaigns. PAC means political action committee, which can contribute directly to candidates.