Colorado votes Democrat to face Republican Senator Cory Gardner

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Former two-term governor John Hickenlooper, who led a short-lived campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is the national party's choice to face Gardner, one of two Republicans facing re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton led in 2016.

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. 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 resurgent comments he made in 2014 comparing politicians to slaves who were flogged to row "an old slave ship."

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Republicans have focused on Hickenlooper's ethical violations, launching ads criticizing the former governor during the Democratic primaries. The state Independent Ethics Commission found Hickenlooper in contempt for defying a subpoena to appear at a remote audience. Then, after he testified virtually, the commission fined him earlier this month for twice violating the rule against accepting gifts when he was governor, even though he dismissed most of the charges against him.

"Top-tier recruit Chuck Schumer needed a last-minute bail 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 attacks, publishing an announcement that says: "We cannot run this type of risk if we are going to defeat Cory Gardner" and we asked for a "fresh and progressive voice in the Senate". But national progressive 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 races statewide, and it is clear that Republicans are attacking him now because they know he is the candidate. Strongest 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 demonstrate that he has not always been as progressive as he now claims to be.

"Any momentum that existed for Romanoff stalled about a week ago, 10 days ago," said Colorado-based Democratic strategist Rick Ridder, who does not 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.

Democrats are slight favorites for Senate control

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's 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.

If Hickenlooper wins the nomination, he will be the second unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2020 who said he did not want to join the Senate, but is now trying to change a red seat in the Senate. Both he and Montana Governor Steve Bullock were pressured by the national party to use their state-wide name recognition to assume Republican office. Gardner has already used that original lack of enthusiasm by the Senate against Hickenlooper in an ad saying: "To do this job, you probably need this job."

But Hickenlooper's 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 babbling or awkwardness, 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 deadlift 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.

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