Potential Republican challengers for the seat of Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., have begun to surface, raising the possible hindrance of a contentious primary, reports the Hill.
State Sens. Randy Baumgardner and Owen Hill declared their intentions this week with more candidates expected to do the same.
Republican strategists are cautiously optimistic Udall’s seat is theirs for the taking.
They point to the fact that while the state voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections, President Obama’s margin of victory over Mitt Romney last year was less than 5 points.
Another outcome seen as encouraging by the GOP is the result of the 2010 Senate race, when Republican Ken Buck lost to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by less than 2 points.
They’re also counting on the traditional low turnout during a midterm year to make their chances more favorable, as well as the mounting displeasure of Coloradans over the policies passed by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper has signed stricter gun control measures, spearheaded the legalization of marijuana in the state and been vocal in his criticism of the death penalty.
Colorado Republicans may attempt to tie Udall to local lawmakers and Hickenlooper and put forth the premise that he is an extension of what they see as liberal overreach in the state.
“There’s definitely growing backlash over some of the things that have happened in the Legislature,” said Owen Loftus, spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party.
“I haven’t seen people be this aware of what’s happening at the state level in years.”
John Straayer, a political scientist at Colorado State University, said while the race is “Udall’s to lose,” he is sensing a growing backlash against the Democratic Legislature.
Former Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 and is considering challenging Udall, said national developments have also made Udall “a little more vulnerable” than he was just a few months ago.
“The six-year itch is starting to take effect,” Beauprez said.
“The impact of the scandals is starting to take effect, the Obama team hasn’t had a really good five to six months.
I think some of that is starting to show up in, maybe, Mark’s vulnerability.”
Beauprez realizes that the state GOP has to play catch-up with the Democratic machine in the swing state.
“I do know how effectively the Democrats play in Colorado,” said Beauprez.
“They’re quite good at it.
I think we have got to modernize our campaign strategy to compete with what has become a very effective Democratic campaign machine in Colorado as well as nationally.”
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