Colorado Senate Seat Becomes Potential Pickup for GOP

Udall, Gardner said, “broke his promise to the American people, to the people of Colorado” by “failing to get government out of the way.”

The incumbent also “failed to stand up to Harry Reid,” the Senate Democratic leader from Nevada, Gardner said. “He has voted to increase taxes, infringe on the 2nd Amendment, to cut seniors and Medicare Advantage. He cut military pensions and then had the audacity to decry the very cuts he voted for.”

Colorado over the past few years has proved difficult to peg politically. It twice supported Obama. But prior to 2008 Colorado voters went Republican in every presidential election dating back to 1968, with the exception of 1992 when the state provided a plurality to former President Bill Clinton. Four years later it switched off Clinton and sided with former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole, of Kansas.

Currently, Republicans hold a 4-3 edge in the state’s congressional delegation. But both senators – Udall and Michael Bennett -- are Democrats, as is Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is seeking re-election this year and carries a 53 percent approval rating, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

Colorado, therefore, might be the purplest of the few remaining purple states. But there are seemingly plenty of problems confronting Democrats this year.

The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is very unpopular in Libertarian-leaning Colorado, with 60 percent of those surveyed in a November Quinnipiac poll voicing disapproval. Udall was a strong supporter of the legislation and Republicans have exhibited little reluctance linking him to the legislation.

Despite carrying Colorado in 2012, Obama’s star has dimmed considerably in the Rocky Mountain State, with 60 percent of those polled expressing distaste for the administration. Colorado Republicans reacted by asserting that Udall has voted the White House line 99 percent of the time during his tenure.

The apparent tightening of the Colorado race is sure to produce additional angina for Democrats desperately trying to maintain control of the Senate. With Republicans almost sure of retaining a majority in the House, events could swamp the party over the ensuing two years.

Democrats are at risk, ironically, because of their success in 2008, when Obama swept into the White House. The party gained eight net seats in the upper chamber that year, taking 20 of the 35 available seats.

Now they have to defend all the seats they won six years ago in addition to trying to pick off at least a couple of those won by Republicans. Of the 20 Democratic seats up this year, seven are in states carried by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. In six of those states Romney won by double-digit margins.

Several Democratic incumbents – Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Mark Begich (D-Ark.), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) – are either behind, tied or slightly ahead in their re-election efforts. Republicans are favored to win a pair of seats currently held by Democrats who are retiring, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

The new challenge faced by Udall in Colorado makes the Democrats’ task that much more difficult.