New endorsements from national and Colorado Democrats across the ideological spectrum have bolstered Hickenlooper, along with a financial advantage fueled by high-spending allies, and exacerbated by the shortage of national online money flowing in the Romanoff way, in contrast to the belated support and attention that propelled Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker to a tight race with Amy McGrath in last week’s Democratic Senate primary. Hickenlooper’s relationships with powerbrokers and voters for more than 16 years as Denver’s governor and mayor gave him the tools to stabilize his campaign.
“Only a small group of groups supported it, and even fewer put real muscle behind Andrew,” said Evan Weber, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, a climate-focused group that endorsed Romanoff earlier in the race and was also a key sponsor. from Booker in Kentucky.
Weber lamented the lack of acceptance by other left-wing groups, calling Colorado the clearest opportunity for the Senate to choose a candidate with progressive priorities in 2020. But Hickenlooper’s supporters said the former governor’s strengths and record in the state they helped him achieve it. A rough patch.
“When you are known and you build this goodwill reserve, you can put up with some of these things,” said Jim Carpenter, chief of staff for former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, who endorsed Hickenlooper last week. “I think everyone sees Hickenlooper as the much stronger general election candidate, which is why the National Democrats came out.”
“This is a crucial time,” Hickenlooper said during a Zoom event to vote Monday with volunteers and elected officials who backed him. “This is when everything matters and we have to put everything there.”
“We know that we are living in difficult times now,” he said. “From coronavirus to racial justice we have a lot of work to do. But in every difficult time, Colorado has always lived up to the circumstances.”
Romanoff, who joined the race long before Hickenlooper jumped from the presidential race to the Senate campaign, clearing the field for other contenders, raced to the left, promoting the green New Deal and “Medicare for All,” while criticizing Hickenlooper’s more moderate approach. But Romanoff, previously a more centrist Democrat, who lost the 2010 Senate primary and the 2014 House of Representatives race, has not benefited from the national attention other progressive candidates have received.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who backed and raised money for Booker in Kentucky and challengers for the House of Representatives in New York, has not been involved in Colorado. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker backed Hickenlooper earlier this month. Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who endorsed Hickenlooper in May, posted a video Friday promoting her work as governor by establishing a universal vote by mail, which has grown in importance during the pandemic.
A handful of progressive national organizations, including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, backed Romanoff along the way, and Our Revolution, which launched from Sanders’ first presidential race, also backed him. But many of the groups that jumped to Kentucky stayed on the sidelines in Colorado.
Romanoff played down the importance of national progressives in an interview, saying he focused on local support.
“Some of the out-of-state politicians have not yet registered, that’s fine. Washington will make its own decisions, ”Romanoff said, touting his support of environmental organizations and hundreds of past and current local officials. “We are collecting leaders in Colorado all the time, they just don’t attract the attention of the talkative class in DC But they can vote here, unlike the politicians in Washington.”
Hickenlooper’s allies have long argued that he is clearly the best option to face Gardner in a seat that Democrats cannot afford to lose for a chance to change the Senate. Despite his struggles, Hickenlooper maintains a positive image among state Democrats and a lead in the polls.
Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said the former governor has a positive image because of his “proven record of doing things.”
“He is the biggest threat to Cory Gardner, so Republicans have already spent millions trying to take him down,” Boss said.
But Romanoff and his supporters have tried to undermine that notion, arguing that the state Ethics Commission’s recent decision that Hickenlooper violated state ethics laws as governor would jeopardize the Democrats’ primary Senate goal.
“Presumably they backed him because they thought he was the most eligible candidate and has the best chance of beating Gardner,” said Weber, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement. “What completely confuses me is that we’ve seen tons of evidence suggesting that this is a really difficult case to make.”
In addition to the high-profile endorsements, the Hickenlooper campaign has promoted nearly two dozen local Democrats who recently shifted their endorsement from Romanoff to the former governor, although that represents a small fraction of the officials who endorsed Romanoff’s campaign.
Gardner’s campaign and the Republican National Senate Committee have released ads attacking Hickenlooper over the Ethics Commission’s ruling, as well as his comments, made while running for president, that he did not want to serve in the Senate. The NRSC and two non-disclosure “donor money” groups, one in Colorado and one aligned with majority leader Mitch McConnell, have reserved announcements in Colorado in July, continuing the wave of attacks.
“Hickenlooper’s blatant disregard for law and transparency has caused his campaign to spin out of control,” said Jesse Hunt, an NRSC spokesman. “It has left a stain on his candidacy that will not be forgotten by essential independent voters for a winning coalition in Colorado.”
The PAC Majority Senate, which is aligned with minority leader Chuck Schumer, has already spent nearly $ 3 million on the run defending Hickenlooper against Republican Party attacks, including more than $ 1 million in the past week. And a newly formed Colorado-based super PAC that has yet to reveal its donors spent more than $ 1 million on late announcements targeting Romanoff, who ran a negative announcement that hit Hickenlooper.
Still, even though the race has gotten nasty along the way, Democrats believe the party will come together overall because Colorado is so critical of taking down the majority of the Republican Senate. Ian Silverii, CEO of ProgressNow Colorado, said Hickenlooper was still well positioned to emerge Tuesday and start the general election as the favorite.
“Hick can take his good name and the current political tide to a double-digit victory in November against Gardner, and progressive Democrats and anyone voting against Trump in November have one goal in Colorado: beat Gardner,” he said. “That’s it, that’s the whole ball game.”