For those who would lament that it is sad that both candidates in the Democratic Senate Primary are going negative, we’ll say this: Right or wrong, it was inevitable, just as it was inevitable that Republicans Ken Buck and Jane Norton would attack each other in their Senate race.
The campaign of Sen. Michael Bennet went up this evening with its own negative ad in response to the attack ad started today by Andrew Romanoff.
Both sides will argue over which ad is more damaging, but Bennet’s ad hits what has really been Romanoff’s only message — that Bennet takes PAC money and he doesn’t. The Romanoff ad against Bennet certainly hurts, but Bennet has other things he can talk about; Romanoff has put all his chips in the PAC attack basket. As we wrote before, we thought Romanoff should have gone up on TV with a message about his own record first, rather than using his PAC message out of the gate, in part so that he would at least have had another narrative to fall back on should the PAC thing blow up.
Given Romanoff’s small campaign warchest and Bennet’s ability to drive this ad relentlessly, it’s not hard to see how the Bennet ad will hurt more.
This back and forth also shows the benefit of being the frontrunner in a race; Bennet got to sit back and stay positive until Romanoff was forced to go negative, and in response Bennet’s campaign could generate press for a day making Romanoff look bad. They could then go negative themselves with the message that “Romanoff did it first, so we had to respond.” The same thing is happening in the Republican Primary, where Norton went negative first because she is trailing Buck.