Darryl Glenn hasn’t paid a single staffer during his bid for a Republican Senate nomination in Colorado.
That’s an unusual practice for any candidate, much less one vying for the Republican nomination of a marquee Senate race. But the favorite of conservative activists relies almost exclusively on volunteers, even as he plots a statewide effort in a multi-candidate GOP primary in Colorado that’s drawn national attention.
In fact, the only staffer who’s gotten a check from Glenn in recent years is his daughter Ashley Glenn, who received two $5,000 payments at the end of a country commissioner re-election race in 2014.
A review of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission reveals that Glenn hasn’t paid a single staffer in a Senate campaign that began in January of 2015.
He said he doesn’t use consultants either, including a pollster or message guru. (FEC reports show he made a $2,500 payment to a consulting firm in January of 2015).
An all-volunteer force
Instead, Glenn said in an interview that he has an all-volunteer force of about 10 “core” members. All of them, he said, signed agreements with the campaign that recognizes that they are volunteers who won’t be financially compensated unless he reaches the general election, after which they could be paid.
“Everything is based on the amount of money that comes in,” Glenn said. “I run a campaign where we do not take on debt.”
Staffers for Glenn’s campaign say it’s not as if they aren’t working hard for the candidate, they simply have other jobs while they also work to get him elected. Jillian Likness, Glenn’s spokesman, said she works as a casualty claims adjustor while fielding press calls.
“I am definitely full time,” Likness said. “Our chief of staff is full time. We have a couple of other staffers who are pretty much full time.”
She added that the staffers volunteer their time because they are committed to helping Glenn run an operation that doesn’t spend heavily.
Glenn, a commissioner from El Paso County, is one of five Republicans to make the ballot in the Colorado GOP Senate primary, joining former state Rep. Jon Keyser, Ryan Frazier, Robert Blaha, and Jack Graham. Each is vying to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, in a race GOP operatives in Washington consider one of two realistic opportunities to pick up a Senate seat this year.
Glenn was the only candidate to make the ballot via the statewide convention, a process traditionally controlled by some of the state’s most fervent conservative activists. And apart from his policy positions — the Air Force veteran has said he won’t work with Democrats if elected — his unusual approach to building a campaign offers pause to a Republican establishment hopeful of finding a strong candidate to take on Bennet.
His payments to his daughter in his 2014 re-election race, which he won by nearly 60 points, might also raise questions from his opponents. Of the $24,000 Glenn spent during his campaign, $10,000 went to Ashley Green. Both $5,000 payments were made near or after the end of the race, in October and November of 2014.
Glenn said only he and two other people worked on the campaign. His daughter, he added, helped him with social media and messaging after she majored in marketing in college.
In this case, Glenn said, he was simply trying to pay someone for her work after a long campaign.
‘We’re not Democrats’
“She was a one-man show,” he said. “Or I should say one-woman show.”
He added: “The alternative would be to not compensate people for their services. We’re not Democrats. I’m sorry.”
He rejected questions over whether that was unfair given that he’s not paying staffers on his Senate campaign. His daughter works for him now as social media director, he said, and has yet to be paid.
Like other volunteers, that could change if Glenn reaches the general election.
“We will revisit that subject,” he said. “Everything is based on the amount of money that comes in.”
Through March, Glenn had raised only $45,000 , far less than some of his Republican opponents. He had less than $12,000 on hand.
Glenn’s chances in the June 28 primary are unclear, though it would surprise most if he won the nomination. He doesn’t yet have the money for TV ads, and his low name identification (he hails from outside Denver, the state’s largest media market) could be lethal in a race that has yet to attract much attention from actual voters in the state.
But three of the other Republicans running, Keyser, Frazier, and Blaha, each struggled to even make the primary ballot . Keyser, seen as the establishment favorite in the race, subsequently faced tough questions about whether his campaign forged signatures to make the ballot.