In a signal that Republicans think Colorado's Senate seat could be winnable, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm is spending $250,000 on a statewide one-week ad buy centered on Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet's support of President Joe Biden's agenda.
The attack ad shows an image of Bennet morphing into Biden and notes Bennet has voted with Biden 98 percent of the time. According to polls, a majority of Americans — and Coloradans — have an unfavorable view of Biden’s job performance.
“Senator Bennet has done nothing for Colorado except go along with Joe Biden and Washington Democrats’ agenda, resulting in record gas prices, skyrocketing inflation, and rising crime,” said Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Democrats remain favored to keep control of Colorado’s Senate seat, but in a statement, Scott said the GOP is committed to expanding its Senate map and this move is part of that commitment.
Bennet's campaign pushes back with their own ads
Bennet’s camp pushed back on the ad.
“Mitch McConnell’s NRSC is propping up Joe O’Dea with a negative ad that misleads voters,” said Georgina Beven, Bennet for Colorado spokesperson. “This tells Coloradans everything they need to know: Joe O’Dea sides with Mitch McConnell, not Colorado."
The $600,000 ad, which will air over the next two weeks in Denver and Colorado Springs, as well as run online, shows Bennet fly fishing with Chaffee County Commissioner Greg Felt, a river guide and unaffiliated voter. Felt touts Bennet’s work for Colorado.
“He’s leading the fight to defend our way of life, protecting our public lands, promoting forest and watershed health, and supporting businesses like mine.”
Bennet's campaign is also wrapping up his first general election statewide campaign ad showing him in Colorado’s mountains. It also cost the campaign $600,000 and focused on his fight against special interests in Washington.
Colorado's Senate race is shaping up to be costly
The Republican ad boost is beneficial for the O’Dea campaign. The Republican challenger goes into the general election with just over $840,000 cash on hand as of June 30. In comparison, Bennet had over $8 million cash on hand at that time.
According to the most recent campaign filings, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) had over $28 million cash on hand. The committee has raised $173 million and has so far spent $159 million this election cycle. The NRSC typically doesn’t give money directly to candidates' committees. Instead, it spends directly to support candidates in races where Republicans believe they will be competitive.
All this adds up to mean that Colorado's Senate race could again be a costly one.
The biggest outside Democratic spending in the race so far came in the primary. A PAC aligned with Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was the only source of funding for a Colorado super PAC that plowed $4 million on TV and digital ads in an unsuccessful attempt to convince voters to choose conservative state Rep. Ron Hanks, a 2020 election denier, over O’Dea.
A number of prominent Democratic former elected officials from Colorado, including former Sen. Gary Hart, former Rep. Patricia Schroder, and former Gov. Roy Romer, signed on to a letter this week decrying Democratic attempts to elevate election deniers in primaries across the country in the hopes of an easier election come November.
Colorado’s 2020 Senate contest between Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper cost more than $100 million, according to the Colorado Sun.
You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up. The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!