Representative Cory Gardner, a two-term U.S. House member who
represents a conservative district in eastern Colorado, enters the
primary race along with several GOP candidates who are vying for the
Senate nomination, although none have his name recognition in the
politically divided state.
Gardner will formally announce his Senate bid this weekend,
according to a Republican party official, who declined to give his
name before the formal announcement. The news, which was first
reported by the Denver Post, prompted considerable jockeying among
both Democrats and Republicans, as one contender announced he was
withdrawing from the senate race to run instead for Gardner's
"This completely changes the dynamic of the race," said Floyd
Ciruli, an independent Denver political pollster. "Gardner will be
attacked by for being extreme, but he is an affable candidate who
can come across as center-right."
A Republican has not won a statewide election to be governor or a
U.S. senator in Colorado in more than a decade. But Udall, 63, is
perceived as vulnerable over his support for the Affordable Health
Care Act, which is unpopular in Colorado, Ciruli said.
His main GOP rival until Wednesday, Weld County District Attorney
Ken Buck, could not match Udall's fundraising prowess. He bowed out
of the race on Wednesday and endorsed Gardner, saying he would
instead seek the House seat vacated by the congressman.
"The Senate race has never been about me but about helping change
the direction of the country," Buck said in a statement. "I hope to
have the opportunity to lead the fight for limited government and
A Quinnipiac University poll released this month showed Udall with a
slim three-percentage point lead over Buck, but he dwarfed the
prosecutor in fundraising.
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Now that Gardner is in the race, the money will start flowing,
Ciruli predicted, noting that Udall has amassed $5 million so far in
his re-election war chest. Buck, campaign contribution records
showed, had raised just $379,000 by the end of last year.
"Republican donors have been looking for a serious candidate to take
on Udall," he said.
Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic party, wasted no
time in taking on Gardner, calling him a "radical who is neck deep
in Washington sleaze. ...
"Gardner is just another reckless House Republican when it comes to
dismantling Social Security and Medicare, banning abortion and many
types of birth control, and irresponsibly putting our economy at
risk to advance his political agenda," Palacio said in a statement
Udall is the son of the late Morris "Mo" Udall, a former U.S.
Congressman who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in
His cousin, Tom Udall, is a first-term Democratic Senator from New
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Ken Wills)
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