Swing state Democrat raises $2 million in re-election bid in Q1

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall raised more than $2 million during the first quarter of the year, his biggest haul to date.

Combined with money he raised in 2013, Udall has $5.9 million in the bank for his re-election, according to the Associated Press.

Udall is facing a tough challenge from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who had $800,000 to spend on his campaign when he got into the race. Gardner has not yet reported his first quarter fundraising totals.

Until Gardner’s unexpected entry into the race — in exchange for another candidate dropping out of the Senate race to run for Gardner’s congressional seat — Udall faced a slew of competitors, none of whom had more than $250,000 in campaign contributions, the AP reported.

Gardner’s entry, however, propelled the race onto the national radar. The candidates are in a virtual dead heat in a race that is beginning to focus on energy policy and social issues.

“Coloradans are rallying behind Mark Udall because they see him fighting every day to protect our special way of life,” Udall’s campaign manager Adam Dunstone is quoted as saying by Denver’s Fox 31.

“Mark is grateful for the thousands of supporters who are helping us fight back against the billionaire Koch brothers and out-of-state special interests.”

Udall has been courting support from Tom Steyer, a former hedge-fund manager and billionaire from California who has pledged to spend up to $100 million on candidates committed to battling climate change. Steyer is portrayed as the liberal version of the Koch brothers in a GOP ad paid for by the conservative group American Commitment.

But Udall is walking a fine line with his stance on energy issues, recently calling himself a “champion of Colorado’s natural gas industry” when he proposed fast-track approval for liquid natural gas exports as part of an aid package for Ukraine.

Natural gas production, which involves fracking, is a hot-button issue in Colorado  and dividing Democrats. Millionaire Rep. Jared Polis is reportedly supporting a ballot initiative that would allow local communities to ban the practice, while Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking re-election, stands as a long-time supporter of fracking, calling it safe.

Colorado is already a battleground for out of state interests around the presumed race between Udall and Gardner. Americans for Prosperity spent nearly $1 million on anti-Obamacare ads aimed at Udall, according to Fox 31. Gardner has been targeted by ads paid for by the Senate Majority PAC.

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