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Victors in Dougco board races had huge campaign spending edge

Dougco headquarters in Castle Rock (John Leyba/The Denver Post).
Dougco headquarters in Castle Rock (John Leyba/The Denver Post).

The three insurgent candidates for the Douglas County school board raised and spent almost five times more campaign money than the incumbents they unseated.

The three winners raised a total of nearly $64,000 while the losing incumbents raised a total of only about $14,000. Candidate committees filed their final campaign fundraising and spending reports Thursday.

The combined total of $78,000 raised by the six contenders is well below the $228,378 raised by all candidates during the 2013 Douglas board election.

Candidate fundraising in the 2015 Dougco races provides an incomplete picture of how much money was raised and spent in the hotly contested races. There was substantial – but so far uncounted – spending by committees and organizations not formally affiliated with the candidates.

Some of those organizations will have to report their activities, but not until mid-January. Because of gaps in campaign finance laws, other kinds of committees won’t have to file any reports with the secretary of state.

In 2013, outside groups in Dougco raised nearly $221,000, only slightly less than the total raised by candidates.

Here’s a look at the candidates’ final financial reports:

The winners

Wendy Vogel (District A) – Raised $18,250 for the whole campaign and spent the same amount. She had $415 in non-monetary contributions.

Anne-Marie Lemieux (District C) – Raised $21,350 and spent it all. She reported $4,291 in non-monetary contributions.

David Ray (District F) – Raised $24,533 and spent $24,395. He reported $530 in non-monetary contributions.

All three raised little or no money in the final reporting period, which covered activity from Oct. 26 to Nov. 28. But all spent significant amounts in the campaign’s final days. Ray, for instance, spent nearly $11,000 during the last reporting period, close to half of his total spending. The biggest chunk of last-minute spending for Ray and the other two insurgents went for printing and advertising costs.

The candidates all raised their money from small and medium-sized contributions.

The losers

Craig Richardson (District A) – Raised $6,875 and spent $3,691. He reported $684 in non-monetary contributions.

Kevin Larsen (District C) – Raised $4,060 and spent $3,444. He reported $832 in non-monetary contributions.

Richard Robbins (District F) – Raised $3,675 and spent $3,478. He reported $507 in non-monetary contributions.

In prior elections, some conservative Dougco board candidates have raised significant war chests, including large individual contributions by wealthy donors from outside Douglas County. Richardson raised $27,213 in 2011, and Larsen raised $20,820 in the same year.

There was speculation that Richardson, Larsen and Robbins were relying on outside spending or the power of incumbency so didn’t feel the need to raise large amounts of money on their own. Asked about that during the campaign, Richardson and Larsen declined to explain their financial strategies.

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