Candidate Wright still raising funds for his campaign

Despite calls from some members of his own party to drop out of the race, the Republican candidate for House District 54 still is raising cash for his campaign.

Since reports surfaced that Jared Wright left his job as a Fruita police officer and that he filed for bankruptcy protection last year, the 29-year-old raised slightly more than $3,000 last month, according to the latest campaign finance filings with the Secretary of State’s Office.

That puts Wright’s total campaign donations since entering the race in March at nearly $13,000, about $8,000 of which he’s already spent.

Only one contribution was returned: $25 to Jerry and Phyllis Hunsinger.

“When I give money to someone, I don’t care if it’s just $25, I give it to him because I believe in him. He violated that belief,” said Jerry Hunsinger, whose wife is secretary for the Mesa County Republican 
Party. “He can’t seem to tell the truth about anything, and so I certainly don’t want him as my representative in Denver.”

Last week, a supporter of Wright sent an email to several voters in the Grand Valley touting Wright’s qualifications and saying Hunsinger and others have launched a smear campaign against the Republican.

The email, written by Shari Bjorklund, directs readers to Wright’s website, which includes a quote by Hunsinger threatening to launch a smear campaign if he didn’t refund his money, a quote that Hunsinger confirmed came from him.

While Bjorklund said she spent less than $20 to send the email, her husband, Tom, has been paid numerous times by the Wright campaign.

According to Wright’s campaign finance reports, Tom Bjorklund’s political consulting firm, Tactical Data, was paid more than $2,000 for consulting and professional services.

Wright’s sole opponent, Libertarian Tim Menger, still has not raised or spent any money on his campaign, and continues to vow not to do so.

While that race has seen little money, other House races in the region have drawn a lot of financial attention.

South of here in House District 59, which stretches from Gunnison County to Durango and Pagosa Springs, Democrat Michael McLachlan has pulled in more than $90,000 in donations. His opponent, Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, has raised more than $67,000.

That race has attracted so much attention because the Colorado Democratic Party sees it as a possible pickup, while state Republicans have targeted it as a must-keep seat.

Meanwhile in another must-keep seat for the Democrats in the region, House District 61, which stretches from Delta County to the Summit Valley, Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Frisco, has raised nearly $57,000.

That’s more than the two other main contenders in the race combined: Republican Debra Irvine, $15,000; and unaffiliated candidate Kathleen Curry, $22,000.

More locally, in House District 55, which primarily encompasses Grand Junction, Republican Rep. Ray Scott has spent only about one-third of the nearly $15,000 he’s raised for his first re-election bid.

His Democratic challenger, Grand Junction attorney Dan Robinson, has pulled in less than $9,000, spending more than $3,000 of it on advertising items such as campaign signs and bumper stickers.

In Senate District 8, which includes Garfield County, Rep. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs has spent all of the $37,477 he raised defeating Sen. Jean White of Hayden in June’s GOP primary.

As a result, he owes more than $500, while his Democratic opponent, Emily Tracy of Breckenridge, has raised more than $38,000.

In House District 57, which also includes Garfield County, Republican Robert Rankin has easily outraised his Democratic challenger, Jo Ann Baxter, $37,000 to $8,000.


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