But Hickenlooper, long seen as the Democratic favorite, faces competition from former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, whose challenge from the left gained momentum after Hickenlooper suffered a series of negative headlines in June.
Romanoff is no stranger to campaigning. He unsuccessfully challenged newly appointed Senator Michael Bennet in a 2010 Democratic primary. Four years later, he lost an offer for a seat in the Denver-area House of Representatives. Now he is running for Senate assent, campaigning on “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal.
Hickenlooper has statewide name recognition, large campaign chests, and the powerful backing of outside group spending on his behalf. But the missteps on his part may have shaken, at least temporarily, his apparent advantage. In a sign that his allies were getting nervous, a new super PAC pro Hickenlooper started spending more than $ 1 million attacking Romanoff last week. That gave Romanoff fodder to call on Hickenlooper’s promise to take dark money out of hypocritical politics.
Hickenlooper has recently tried to clean up previous comments. He said he “stumbled” when he said “Black Lives Matter” means “every life matters,” a description activists say discounted systematic discrimination against blacks. He apologized for the revived comments he made in 2014 comparing politicians to slaves who were flogged to row “an old slave ship.”
“Top-tier recruit Chuck Schumer needed a last-minute bond to get past the finish line of his own primary, but no amount of dark money will erase the fact that Hickenlooper has repeatedly betrayed taxpayer confidence and continues to hide the voter truth about his paid corporate travel as governor, “said National Republican Senate Committee spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez.
Romanoff has joined the Republican Party attacks, publishing an announcement that says: “We cannot take this kind of risk if we are going to beat Cory Gardner” and ask for a “fresh and progressive voice in the Senate.” But progressive national icons like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and 2018 Georgia Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, as well as New Jersey Senator Cory Booker have recently endorsed Hickenlooper.
“John Hickenlooper is one of Colorado’s most popular public officials after his two successful stints as Governor, he has a record of winning tough state races and it is clear that Republicans are attacking him now because they know he is the strongest candidate to beat Cory Gardner, “said Democratic Senate Campaign Committee spokesman Stewart Boss.
Hickenlooper’s allies have attacked Romanoff for his support of the 2006 immigration bills, trying to show that he has not always been as progressive as he now says he is.
“Any momentum that existed for Romanoff stalled about a week ago, 10 days ago,” said Colorado-based Democratic strategist Rick Ridder, who doesn’t work for either candidate, on Monday.
Gardner is one of the most vulnerable incumbents of 2020. Clinton won the state by five points in 2016, the first election cycle when each state voted for the same party in the Presidential and Senate elections. Democrats need to win at least three seats to take control of the Senate and see Colorado as a privileged election.
Hickenlooper had spent about $ 6.7 million at the end of the pre-reporting period on June 10, more than three times what Romanoff had spent, and that is independent of the millions of dollars that national Democratic groups have spent for him. . Hickenlooper ended the period with nearly $ 6 million in the bank, compared to Romanoff’s $ 792,000, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
But Hickenlooper supporters say the former governor will defeat Gardner despite his latest struggles, due in part to President Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the state.
“No amount of stammering or stammering, or missteps, or foot-in-the-mouth moments that John has had, and has had many, but none of them will amount to the great dead weight Donald Trump has around Cory Gardner,” Alan Salazar, a former Hickenlooper chief strategist, told CNN last week.
CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.