Mitt Romney’s fundraiser in Aspen last Monday gave the presidential candidate one of his biggest event hauls of the campaign and kicked off a string of big-name Republican Party events, right here in the liberal resort where President Obama won 74 percent of the county vote in 2008.
Romney collected upwards of $2.5 million on Monday at his fundraiser at the Aspen-area home of Susan Crown and William Kunkler, according to Pitkin County Republican Party chair Frieda Wallison.
“It was fabulous, both in terms of the result dollar-wise and the candidate himself,” she said. “He had everybody wowed.”
The cocktail party and dinner event was $50,000 for dinner with the former Massachusetts governor, $10,000 for a photograph with him and $2,500 for admission to a general reception.
The crowd of more than 300 paying guests included independents and some Democrats, Wallison said.
The county GOP also announced this week that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the lightning rod conservative who last month became the first governor in American history to survive a recall election, will be the keynote speaker at the local party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner on July 31.
Walker signed on for the fundraiser after agreeing to come to town for a public event with other Republican governors at the non-partisan Aspen Institute.
And this Thursday, the Tea Party wing of the GOP comes to Aspen, with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks — the conservative nonprofit — speaking at a Republican-sponsored event at Aspen Meadows.
Romney came to Aspen between resort fundraising stops in the Hamptons and Jackson Hole, as he continued to outpace the president in fundraising. His campaign, and related Republican Party committees, reported raising $106 million in June — topping the $71 million announced by Obama and Democratic groups. The multiple Hamptons events reportedly raised upwards of $3 million each and the Wyoming stop, with former Vice President Dick Cheney, reportedly netted more than $4 million.
Local Democratic leaders said that they are focusing on grassroots organization less than collecting checks.
“We’re going to win with boots on the ground,” said Pitkin County Democratic Party chair Blanca O’Leary. “And that’s how we won in 2008, with boots on the ground.”
First Lady Michelle Obama vacationed in Aspen this winter, and local party leaders are hoping to bring her back before Election Day, but nothing’s been booked yet. Last summer, she held a fundraiser at the home of Jim Crown — brother to Susan, who hosted this week’s Romney event. That event ran $10,000 for a photograph with the First Lady and $1,000 for a luncheon and speech from her.
The local Democratic Party has signed up Gov. John Hickenlooper and Democratic National Committee (DNC) political director Jeffrey Lerner for a July 27 fundraising dinner, and has top officials from the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee coming this summer.
On July 28, Katherine Archuleta, the Obama campaign’s political director, will be holding public events in Aspen, Basalt, and a “Latinos for Obama” rally and voter registration event outside of Carbondale’s Mountain Fair festival.
“The fact that the national political directors for the DNC and the Obama campaign are both coming really shows how critical this valley is to winning Colorado and winning the country,” said O’Leary.
Polls have shown the race between Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat in Colorado.