Diana DeGette is out-fundraising Crisanta Duran in the race for the Denver congressional district

At the end of the first reporting period, the incumbent is out ahead of the challenger and former state house speaker.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver speaks during a press conference at Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver on Monday, March 4, 2019, in City Park West. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver speaks during a press conference at Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver on Monday, March 4, 2019, in City Park West. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette’s latest fundraising figures show she has an early lead over challenger Crisanta Duran.

It’s a long road to the June 2020 election, but the 12-term incumbent congresswoman is coming hot off another easy victory against a Republican challenger in the general election. The Denver Democrat raised more than $138,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. DeGette’s campaign had $201,356.36 cash-on-hand at the end of the period.

Duran’s campaign said in a release Monday they have raised more than $70,000 from more than 300 contributors, calling it a strong start. Duran, the former state house speaker, announced her candidacy in the middle of the fundraising period in late February.

Crisanta Duran, former Colorado Speaker of the House and candidate for the U.S. House, speaks to a reporter at a Sunnyside coffee shop, March 1, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Crisanta Duran, former Colorado Speaker of the House and candidate for the U.S. House, speaks to a reporter at a Sunnyside coffee shop, March 1, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“This is a great start to our campaign for change,” Duran said in the release. “We received contributions from people of all walks of life and from an inclusive cross-section of leaders and grassroots supporters throughout our community.”

Duran isn’t accepting money from corporate political action committees, a fact her campaign is using to set her apart from DeGette, who is accepting money from these types of PACs. Duran campaign consultant Steve Welchert said in the release that they “don’t expect to keep up with DeGette’s corporate PAC machine, but today’s report shows we’ll build a strong, winning campaign.”

DeGette campaign advisor Jennie Peek-Dunstone said in a statement to Denverite that Welchert’s comment about PAC money is “ironic coming from the Duran campaign when she took PAC money for almost a decade,” referencing Duran’s time in the Colorado legislature.

“In the past three months, Congresswoman DeGette has been been working to reduce insulin prices, fight President Trump’s family separation policy, and hold the EPA accountable,” Peek-Dunstone said in the statement. “At the same time, her campaign raised almost $140,000. Congresswoman DeGette’s focus is on doing the work she was elected to do.”

Donors include a former mayor, a developer, a developer’s wife and a lawyer you see on TV.

FEC documents show PAC donors to DeGette’s campaign include locally headquartered DaVita ($5,000) and AT&T ($2,500). In all, she received $58,500 in contributions from various committees, a majority toward her primary run (DeGette also received contributions for the general election).

DeGette’s campaign received $2,800 from local personal injury lawyer Michael G. Sawaya and Andra Zeppelin, wife of Denver developer Kyle Zeppelin.

Among the donors to Duran’s campaign are former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, both of whom, along with their wives, each donated $1,000 to Duran’s campaign. Longtime Denver developer Dana Crawford and former John Hickenlooper Chief of Staff Roxane White were also contributors, according to Duran’s campaign release.

Duran’s candidacy marks the third-straight primary challenge for DeGette.

She has served in Congress since first being elected in 1996. Before Chuck Norris unsuccessfully challenged her in 2016, DeGette hadn’t faced a contested Democratic primary since 2002.

Anna Crawford holds a ballot box during a vote at a 2018 Democratic Congressional District 1 assembly at South High School, April 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Anna Crawford holds a ballot box during a vote at a 2018 Democratic Congressional District 1 assembly at South High School, April 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Last year, Saira Rao managed to raise more than $250,000 for her quest to unseat DeGette as the party’s nominee. But that was during a period a few months before the party’s June 2018 primary; the primary between DeGette and Duran is still more than a year away.

Here’s how much other metro area House candidates raised in the same period.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora, a Democrat, probably had the biggest haul, raising an eye-popping $490,000 during the first quarter, according to Colorado Politics.

Why so much more than DeGette? That’s likely due to the congressman representing the 6th Congressional District, which figures to again be a competitive race in 2020 for Democrats. Unlike the 1st Congressional District, which is safely blue, Crow’s seat has already been floated as a target for Republicans. Crow flipped the seat from red to blue during last year’s election.

Out in Lakewood, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, also a Democrat, raised $211,258 for his reelection campaign during the same period. Overall, the representative for the 7th Congressional District had $820,446.04 cash-on-hand. Perlmutter has been mentioned as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate, a race many believed Duran would jump into before she declared for the House race.

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