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Colbeck low on ‘rocket fuel’ in run for governor

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Three months after declaring “lift-off” for his Republican gubernatorial campaign, new campaign finance data reveal Michigan state Sen. Patrick Colbeck is quickly burning through “rocket fuel” and is nearly running on fumes.

The Canton Township resident and trained aerospace engineer had $13,232 in fundraising reserves as of Oct. 20, the Colbeck campaign said Thursday. He raised $157,187 during the latest financial quarter and spent $143,955.

Colbeck filed his campaign finance statement Wednesday, as required, but technical issues prevented the report from posting publicly online, a spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State and Bureau of Elections confirmed Thursday. His full report has not yet been published.

The figures provided by Colbeck’s campaign show his fund-raising numbers pale in comparison with top Republicans running for governor or considering bids.

Attorney General Bill Schuette of Midland, the early front-runner for the GOP nomination, on Wednesday reported raising $1.2 million for the period, which he ended with $2.3 million in cash on hand across new and old committees.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley of Portland, who is expected to join the Republican race but has not yet declared his candidacy, reported $1.5 million in cash reserves in his lieutenant governor campaign fund.

Colbeck downplayed his small campaign account balance.

“$13K won’t buy a Super Bowl ad, but then again, unless the NFL starts respecting our nation which provides them with the opportunity to earn millions of dollars, I’m not very eager to advertise at the Super Bowl,” he said in a statement.

Term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who rose from relative obscurity to win the party primary in 2010, famously boosted his profile that year with an expensive Super Bowl ad.

“Ultimately, this comes down to votes, not dollars,” Colbeck continued, noting Alabama Republican Roy Moore recently won a U.S. Senate primary despite being significantly outspent.

“Principles matter. We are consistently winning hearts and minds with our Principled Solutions message. People are tired of politics as usual.”

Colbeck rode a wave of tea party support into the state Senate in 2010 and has aligned himself with conservative supporters of President Donald Trump, who endorsed Schuette in September.

Colbeck is touting his own endorsements, including conservative radio and television personality Sean Hannity, who backed him last week during a podcast interview.

Among Democrats running for governor, front-runner Gretchen Whitmer reported raising $768,459 during the latest period and had more than $1.5 in cash reserves.

Former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed raised $612,472 and had $903,565 in cash on hand. Ann Arbor Entrepreneur Shri Thanedar has pumped nearly $6 million of his own money into his campaign and reported cash reserves of $5.67 million.

Fund-raising numbers will not define the gubernatorial race, but donations can help candidates get their messages out and serve as an early indicator of institutional and grassroots support ahead of party primaries set for Aug. 7, 2018.