Xcel deal advocates outspending pro-muni forces in Boulder ballot battle

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020

With less than two weeks left for Boulderites to weigh a settlement and renewed franchise agreement with Xcel Energy, residents hoping for an end to a decade of municipalization efforts have outspent their pro-muni adversaries, according to campaign filings. Fundraising is lagging 2017 levels, but campaigns on either side of the issue have more than $20,000 left in their combined coffers.

Campaign spending is far below the level it reached in 2011, when Xcel pumped nearly $1 million into the race to — unsuccessfully — fight a vote that set Boulder down the Local Power path. Per the terms of this year’s deal, Xcel is barred from participating in local election activities, including monetary contributions.

Just two groups are driving donations, one on each side: Committee for Boulder’s Great Green Deal, advocating for a yes vote on ballot measure 2C; and No on 2C for Local Power, which wants to continue the march toward municipalization. That’s a change from 2017, when half a dozen official organizations were battling it out. (That year’s race also included a city council election, bringing more campaigns to the table.)

Five pro-muni groups dominated the sole opposition campaign that year, $82,000 to $15,000. The field is more even this year. Green Deal raised $45,744 as of Oct. 20; No on 2C garnered $34,566. Both have more than $10,0000 each left to spend; Green Deal drew 10 times the amount of in-kind contributions compared to No on 2C.

New Era, which was a powerful pro-muni fundraising force in 2017, this year raised just over $1,000 for development of a voter guide.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison; 2017 numbers are total campaign spending, whereas this year’s reports are from two weeks before the election. Final expenditures will be reported 30 days after Nov. 3.

Filings show just three city council member contributions. Adam Swetlik and Aaron Brockett gave to No Eviction Without Representation; $100 and $108, respectively. Bob Yates contributed $1,000 to Green Deal.

The vast majority of contributors are individuals. The ACLU did give $1,631 to NEWR, and the local chapter of the Sierra Club put $2,000 toward No on 2C.

Campaign fundraising, filings
As of 14 days before the election

Committee for Boulder’s Great Green Deal: $45,744.70
No on 2C for Local Power: $32,566.58
No Eviction Without  Representation: $25,450.93
Our Mayor, Our Choice: $11,365
New Era Voter Guide: $1,212.07

Boulder Area Rental Housing Association, a group representing landlords, also disclosed $3,910 in independent expenditures for a consultant and lawyer. BARHA is opposing 2B, No Eviction Without Representation.

Find committee filings on the City of Boulder elections website.

— Shay Castle, boulderbeatnews@gmail.com, @shayshinecastle

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