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Big donations didn't necessarily mean wins in Colorado Springs City Council election

May 5, 2017 Updated: May 5, 2017 at 5:49 pm
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Richard Skorman and Yolanda Avila celebrate winning races for City Council District 3 and District 4 respecively Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

The six people elected to Colorado Springs City Council hardly raised more than the eight candidates who lost out, recent campaign records show.

The combined war chests for the victors of April's City Council election totaled about $295,000 - only slightly more than the $281,000 garnered by those who lost, according to each candidate's final financial filings.

That doesn't include another quarter-million dollars from one dark money group that failed to save a slate of political newcomers from defeat.

To one longtime political observer, the filings proved that candidates here don't need to raise the most money to win - only enough to play.

"It bears out the old saying: Money gets you in the game, but it doesn't guarantee you a victory," said Colorado College professor emeritus Bob Loevy, a political scientist.

Half of the candidates who raised the most money in their district races failed to win election.

That made sense in a "status quo election," when the city appeared to be humming along without any scandals or big-ticket issues for political newcomers to attack, Loevy said.

He added that candidates backed by the dark-money group Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution, the Housing & Building Association and Colorado Springs Forward appeared to be undone by poorly articulated talking points.

For example, CCPOC raised $259,000, while HBA PAC raised nearly $80,000 and Colorado Springs Forward brought in slightly more than $50,000.

But only one of their endorsed candidates - incumbent Andy Pico - won a contested race.

"They didn't really have a good reason why the incumbents and the people with the incumbents shouldn't be re-elected," Loevy said. "They started bringing up issues like who's liberal and who's conservative. They just could not find an issue."

Lynette Crow-Iverson finished with the most money of the election's 14 candidates - reaping about $85,000 in donations while falling to District 5 incumbent Jill Gaebler, who raised $51,000.

Deborah Hendrix raised more than any other candidate in District 4 - roughly $53,000 - yet lost to Yolanda Avila, who raised about $40,000. Incumbent Helen Collins - who was censured during her only term after an ethics scandal - received just shy of $5,000.

Greg Basham's $63,000 campaign chest eclipsed that of his District 1 opponent by a 6-1 margin. Still, incumbent Don Knight won the right to represent northwest Colorado Springs, having raised about $10,500.

Only Richard Skorman - a former vice mayor - and Pico won with stuffed coffers.

Skorman garnered nearly $75,000 in defeating District 3 challenger Chuck Fowler, who raised about $66,000.

Pico rode almost $34,000 in donations to victory over three opponents in District 6 - none of whom raised more than about $8,000.

David Geislinger had the thriftiest campaign - running unopposed in District 2 and needing only $112 to win it.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter: @jakobrodgers

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