It’s almost Labor Day, which in politics means that it’s time to shift into high gear. The caution flag has been put away. The warm-up laps are over. From here until election day, Nov. 7, it’s going to be full speed ahead.

Now is also the time that the big money starts to really flow into campaigns. The candidates for governor — Bob Beauprez and Bill Ritter — have raised a little more than $2 million apiece to this point, but that’s only a fraction of the amount of money they will spend by November. In the next two months, Beauprez and Ritter will raise another $4-6 million each, with millions more pouring into the campaigns from outside political groups (each party’s national governor’s association, for example, will dump in several million dollars sometime in the next eight weeks).

As the Rocky Mountain News points out, politicos will be taking a close look to see where the candidates stand financially heading into the home stretch:

Political observers are itching for the release of August fundraising figures next week. It will be a crucial barometer for Beauprez, whose contribution tallies have been lagging behind Ritter since the start of the year.

Some blame the congressman’s sluggish fundraising on his opposition to Referendum C, which Colorado voters passed in November to allow the cash-strapped state to keep millions in revenue that otherwise would have been returned to taxpayers. Many Republican business leaders backed the initiative — as did Ritter.

But Beauprez’s camp points out that the congressman — unlike Ritter — faced a bruising primary battle.

The warm-up is over, and now it’s time for the big show. Your television will soon be deluged with political ads, and registered voters will see more mail in the next two months than they’ve seen in the last year. For political candidates Labor Day isn’t a day of rest at all — it’s a day that means it’s time to start working twice as hard.