It was a bad fundraising quarter for the three declared Congressional challenger campaigns of Sal Pace (D-Urination), Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) and Joe Miklosi (D-Denver). Pace and Shaffer got outraised 2:1 by their opponents, Congressman Scott Tipton and Congressman Cory Gardner. Miklosi barely raked in $130k, while spending $40k, a bad burn rate this early on in the cycle.

But the worst news found buried in their reports is where that limited cash came from. Special interest Political Action Committees (PAC), primarily labor unions, gave to the three Democrats' challenger campaigns at rates that far outpaced anything raised by their opponents during equivalent fundraising periods.

A Colorado Peak Politics analysis of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings of Pace, Shaffer and Miklosi found PACs represented 23%, 22% and 36% of their totals raised. 

When you compare the totals to their opponents fundraising during equivalent fundraising periods the difference is striking. 

As challengers, both Pace and Tipton began their campaigns partially through a fundraising period, so we added up the PAC donations from their first two quarters. Whereas Pace's PAC donations accounted for 23%, Tipton raised less than 0.5% of his money from PACs after his first two quarters in the 2010 cycle.

Cory Gardner announced on May 7, 2009, halfway through Q2. Brandon Shaffer announced on July 4, 2011. After their first full fundraising periods as challengers, Shaffer has racked up 22% of his money from PACs to Gardner's mere 3%.

Mike Coffman formed his campaign on November 7, 2007. Joe Miklosi formed his July 1, 2011. After the first full fundraising period for both challenger campaigns, Miklosi has raised a whopping 36% of his money from PACs, to Coffman's 0.8% after his first fundraising period. 

Who are these deep-pocketed special interests? Nearly all of the donations came from labor union PACs, like the $5000 Pace got from the United Food & Commercial Workers or the $5000 Joe Miklosi got from the Sheet Metal Workers Political Action League.

Labor union PACs have long dominated political giving, despite the rhetoric from the left on corporation PAC giving. According to, since 1989 the top 20 biggest PACs have been almost primarily labor unions who have given almost exclusively to Democrats.

The extremely high rate of donations from PACs compared to individual donors is a bad sign for the underlying support for the candidacies of Shaffer, Pace and Miklosi. All they've been able to rely on is well-heeled special interest cash to fund their campaigns, with many of the donations representing the maximum donation of $5000, meaning those wells are dry for future fundraising quarters. 

If these Congressional challengers can't find real people to donate to their campaigns, how will they find real people to vote for them?