DENVER (AP) – Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has widened his fundraising edge against Republican challenger Bob Beauprez despite recent public missteps that have fueled GOP attacks.

According to financial disclosures released late Tuesday, Hickenlooper raised $545,791 – his largest monthly amount yet. Beauprez, meanwhile, raised $223,510 for the reporting period spanning July 27 through Aug. 27.

The battle for television air time is ramping up, with Democrats in recent days asking supporters in fundraising emails to help offset the $1.8 million ad buy from the Republican Governors Association, which is making the Colorado race a priority. The RGA is airing ads criticizing Hickenlooper’s decision to grant an indefinite stay of execution to Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of murder for the 1993 deaths of four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who heads the RGA, said during a July Denver visit that the Colorado contest is winnable for his party and pledged organizational support for Beauprez. Polling has shown the race to be tied.

The Democratic Governors Association, for its part, said it is reserving $3.3 million in television ads this fall to help Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has promised to avoid running negative ads himself, and his campaign so far has only released YouTube videos, including one in which he struggles through a music lesson with OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder. The campaign will begin airing television advertising next week, said spokesman Eddie Stern.

“To make our strategy of not running any negative ads work we need to go up and stay up all the way to Election Day,” he said.

So far, Hickenlooper has raised $4 million – more than four times Beauprez’s amount. Beauprez has raised $828,695, and has lent himself another $527,000.

The latest campaign-finance figures show Hickenlooper’s fundraising prowess even in light of several political stumbles in recent months. In June, he appeared flustered while speaking to Colorado sheriffs about gun-control laws he signed last year, telling sheriffs he would have reassessed his support for the legislation had he known the furor it would cause. The comments upset sheriffs who said they felt their opposition to the gun bills was not given consideration.

Last month, Hickenlooper added to the controversy over his Dunlap decision with comments in a yet-to-be-aired CNN interview that became public. In the interview, he suggested he could grant Dunlap clemency should he lose his re-election bid. As it stands, Hickenlooper’s decision for an indefinite stay can be reversed by a subsequent governor.

Those are just recent two instances, Republicans say, that are liabilities that Democrats will have to spend a lot of money to counteract.

“You can’t jump in the shower and laugh that off,” said Beauprez spokesman Allen Fuller, taking a jab at Hickenlooper’s 2010 campaign commercial in which he highlighted his dislike of negative ads by getting in a shower with his clothes on.

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– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

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