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Joe Coors is Colorado's top political target of outside groups: $1.7 million spent so far

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Congressional candidate Joe Coors may be spending big on advertisements this election season -- but so are the allies of his opponent, who are pouring money into the race at very high rates, dominating independent spending across the state. Outside groups have spent a whopping total of $1,728,848.66 on efforts listed as "opposing Joe Coors." That's about 96 percent of all independent dollars in his race.

Earlier this summer, spending from independent groups against Coors was greater than the sum total of independent expenditures in all of the other congressional races in Colorado combined, Coors spokesman Michelle Yi tells us.

That changed recently, Federal Election Commission reports show, as a lot more money has been spent in the increasingly heated sixth district race between Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi and Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. That race has attracted $3.4 million from outside groups, putting it ahead of spending in Coors' race against Democratic incumbent Ed Perlmutter, where around $1.8 million has been spent.

Still, Yi says Coors wins the dollar prize for the Congressional candidate in the state facing the most spending in outside attacks. (And it seems Miklosi and Coffman are not far behind, both facing a great deal of money from opposing groups).

The spending in this case refers only to independent expenditures, meaning funding from groups that in theory aren't coordinating with the campaigns but are still required to report their finances to the FEC.

Both Perlmutter and Coors, running to represent the seventh district -- which includes parts of Jefferson, Arapahoe and Adams counties -- have spent a lot of campaign money on advertisements, which is likely clear to anyone who lives in that district and watches television. According to FEC reports, Coors has $2,960,900 in disbursements and $91,199 cash on hand. Perlmutter has $2,301,629 in disbursements on record and $229,910 on hand.

A look at spending from the outside groups is especially important in this race, given that a lot of the back-and-forth has been focused on the personal wealth of Coors, who has faced criticism for his personal record in private sector endeavors.

The spin from the Coors campaign is that this outside spending is proof he's a very viable candidate and that Perlmutter and his allies are concerned they could lose.

"Joe is clearly giving Ed a big scare in this race," says Yi.

Continue for more details from the FEC filings and response from the Perlmutter campaign. The FEC reports for independent expenditures in the race show that a total of $1,728,848.66 has been spent from groups opposing Coors. In these forms, groups can list their spending -- which can relate to a range of activities, from ads to canvassing -- as either support or opposition for a candidate. That total refers solely to the groups filing as Coors opponents, not those supporting Perlmutter or those supporting Coors. Clearly the anti-Coors group is the biggest piece of the pie, since total spending in that race comes out to $1,795,093.45, meaning nearly all outside money is spent on efforts against the Republican candidate.

"People are really working to ensure that Ed Perlmutter stays in office," says Yi. "They are really nervous."

This marks a change in tone in the campaign, given that many were dismissing Coors, she says .

"All of the sudden, you see all these ads...and all these expenditures from third party groups. In an unexpected way, it's encouraging. It shows that there is a serious race here. There's nothing like your opponent's friends pouring money into a campaign to show that...we have some great traction," she says, adding, "It is so much money."

The Perlmutter campaign rejects these claims, noting that the candidates aren't working with these outside groups and therefore aren't in any position to comment on their efforts.

"From our perspective, we're not worried. We've got broad-based support," says Perlmutter campaign spokeswoman Leslie Oliver. "We are doing well and we're confident that Ed is going to win this thing."

She adds that the Perlmutter campaign has support from more than 4,000 individual donors, who have raised more than $1.3 million -- and takes a swipe at Coors for spending a lot of his own personal money to support his campaign.

"Joe Coors has shown that he can write a personal check," she says.

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Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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