Romanoff Goes Negative

UPDATE #3: And here’s Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver):


UPDATE #2: Romanoff’s negative ad has even convinced Gov. Jared Polis to speak out:


UPDATE: Prominent Democrats have had some strong reactions to Romanoff’s negative ad. Here’s former Senate candidate Alice Madden, who served as House Majority Leader when Romanoff was Speaker of the House in the state legislature:

And as Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Former U.S. Rep. John Salazar, who switched his endorsement from Romanoff to Hickenlooper earlier this week, panned Romanoff’s latest attack in a statement to Colorado Politics.

“You don’t build yourself up by tearing another man down,” Salazar said. “That’s why I am supporting John Hickenlooper. He doesn’t do negative campaigning against his friends.”

State Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo, called Romanoff’s ad an “affront to Democratic values.”

“If he has any decency, he would take this ad down today,” she said in a statement. “We do not sling mud at each other. He and I may have legitimate policy differences, but when you resort to baseless personal attacks, it shows you cannot win on your own merits.”


On Thursday, Andrew Romanoff’s campaign for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination announced bits and pieces of an internal poll showing that he “only” trailed former Gov. John Hickenlooper by 12 points with 12 days to go before the June 30 Primary.

On Friday, Romanoff’s campaign dropped the other shoe: A full-on negative television ad criticizing Hickenlooper for all sorts of things:

Going negative with what little money he has left in his campaign account is a strange strategic choice for Romanoff — particularly when Republicans are already spending more than a million dollars on television with a negative message against Hickenlooper (both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Sen. Cory Gardner are running anti-Hick ads). The smarter move for Romanoff would have been to run nothing but positive ads; since Republicans are already making the case against Hickenlooper, it would have made more sense to focus attention on making the case for Romanoff.

A few more negative TV spots about Hickenlooper isn’t going to change the fact that Romanoff struggles with low name ID among voters because he hasn’t been in public office since 2008. The goal of this new ad is clearly to make the argument that Romanoff might be more electable than Hickenlooper in November, but voters still need to know more about Romanoff to choose an alternative. It’s not enough to just hit Hick.

Romanoff has apparently not taken lessons from his own electoral history. Late in the 2010 U.S. Senate Primary, Romanoff decided to use his remaining campaign funds to go negative against Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver). The move backfired on Romanoff, who would lose to Bennet a few weeks later by a 54-46 margin. It was clear at the time that Romanoff’s decision to go “nuclear” on Bennet ended up turning off a good chunk of Democratic voters; it’s not clear why 2020 would be any different.

History has not generally been kind to Colorado Democrats who first make the decision to go negative in a Primary. Remember the negative ad that an education group did on behalf of Cary Kennedy in the 2018 Gubernatorial Primary? That one exploded bigly in Kennedy’s face, and her name wasn’t even on the ad.

We’ll leave it to others to argue about the general decision to run negative ads in a Democratic Primary, but we can say without hesitation that it’s not a decision we would have made had we been advising Romanoff’s campaign.

37 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    Pols Goes Negative

    SSDD . . . 


  2. JohnInDenver says:

    Anyone know how big an ad buy this will be? 

    I can see the impulse … if the highlighted concerns about Hick are enough to sink the 12 point leader, Romanoff lives to fight another day.  He can hope his "no clean up required" rep would hold enough Democrats who mainly want to vote against Cory and motivate those who are activist against oil & gas to come vote for him. And those voters could be enough to beat Gardner.

    If it doesn't?   Well, that would be the third high visibility loss in 12 years,  I suspect there wouldn't be a strong supporting group for a 4th state-wide or national campaign.  He can shed the politician skin, find a solid nonprofit or social enterprise job, and continue a life of public service in that field.

  3. Meiner49er says:

    This is why primaries are ultimately a good thing. If Romanoff can take down Hick with this stuff (not sure he can), then we Dems dodge the bullet that will be surely coming from Gardner. If Romanoff can't (which seems more likely), it means Gardner may have trouble with the same messaging in the general.

  4. MADCO says:

    He can do whatever – he won the caucus!

  5. itlduso says:

    He should have stuck to his CD 6 ad calling for a balanced budget amendment.  

    Or, maybe the misleading attacks on Michael Bennet that were called “over the top” by the Denver Post.

    Andrew Romanoff—same as it ever was.

  6. 2Jung2Die says:

    I might regret asking this, but were the public private partnerships alluded to in the ad really that bad in the grand scheme of things? Hick wasn't the 1st to use them, they were used while both Romanoff and Gardner were in the legislature, and they weren't all funded by oil and gas. I don't know any more than what Shaun Boyd and the Sun reported, but after reading I'm left with the impression that the headlines conveyed something worse than the totality of what actually happened.


    • kwtree says:

      The charities funded from the Gov’s private/public partnerships slush fund were worthwhile charities, for the most part. Encouraging literacy, services for homeless… that. I have no quarrel with what we know about how the monies were spent. CBS4 and the Sun had details on which charities were funded through the Governor’s office.

      It does not, however, erase the possibilities of “pay for play”, especially in regard to the  ~$325,000  donations from O&G giants Anadarko and Noble Energy. It does not make these mostly unaccountable donations pass the smell test, according to Frank LoMonte, whose business is ethics in government. (quoted in both articles linked above).

      During the time that Hickenlooper was in office, had the “public/private partnership” money faucet turned on, and accepted more than 325,000 from oil companies, he

      *appointed an oil and gas lobbyist to the Public Utilities Commission. Glen Vaad then voted in favor of Black Hills Energy price gouging consumers and trying to cut commercial solar off at the knees.

      *channeled the widespread citizen’s movement for local control over oil and gas development into an innocuous “Blue Ribbon Commission” which initiated a few token reforms, stopping the citizen ballot initiatives in the process

      *Sued the Longmont citizens coalition, with COGCC, if they banned fracking within city limits

      *drank fracking fluid in an ill-considered gesture to demonstrate industry safety

      *dishonestly inflated O&G jobs numbers, copying CRED’s propaganda to claim that there were over 110,000 direct oil and gas jobs when the reality always was that the direct jobs were about 26,000, and the “implied or indirect” jobs could also have been claimed by any number of other industries in the same areas.

      So, while he was the Gov, some charities got funded, Hick got to be the good guy throwing money around to good causes, and the oil industry indubitably got what they wanted. Pretty good quo for a few quid.


      It’s interesting that none of the people chastising Romanoff for negative ads are quarrelling with the substance of what the ad says:
      Hick has ethics issues, defied a subpoena, etc. They’re just mad at Romanoff for saying it out loud. We’re all supposed to be quiet and assist with the DSCC’s crowning of Hick the Inevitable, the Only One Who Can Beat Gardner.


      • Duke Cox says:

        Did I also hear some people claiming Andrew wasn't running an aggressive campaign…?

        Mebbe not…..

      • The realist says:

        Excellent summary, kwtree. I would add that it's very possible Hick purposefully mixed legitimate charity work into the slush fund to reduce the scrutiny of the "work" that oil & gas money was producing.

        Thanks in particular for the reminder about Hick's appointment of oil and gas lobbyist Glen Vaad to the Public Utilities Commission. As you note, "Vaad then voted in favor of Black Hills Energy price gouging consumers and trying to cut commercial solar off at the knees." I was a volunteer on Pueblo's failed grassroots campaign to achieve a "yes" vote May 5 to break away from Pueblo's franchise with Black Hills. I know a lot about the company – the bottom line is they are evil. They have about the highest cost for electricity in the state, in an area of the state (Pueblo, Cañon City, etc) whose poverty rate is substantially higher than the statewide average. I have homes served by Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy, and pay 77 percent more per kilowatt hour for Black Hills' "gold-plated" power. Black Hills spent at least $1.5 million to fight the grassroots campaign to break away (we'll never know the actual amount because the City of Pueblo failed to enforce public disclosure provisions of campaign finance law – some crooked members of City Council need to be replaced). 

        Back to Hick – I don't see how he will ever convince people that his cozy relationship with the oil/gas industry is in the state's best interest. The world has little time left to effectively deal with human-caused climate change.

        One more thing – Hick could lose to Gardner. Hick's shtick isn't as effective as it used to be.

        • Voyageur says:

          Romo could also lose and if his stab in the back tactics win the primary, a lot of Democ ratic moderates will be without a home in November.

          Rule or ruin tactics have a cost.  Not everyone has the steadfastness of Duke.

          • The realist says:

            Let's also talk about the behind-the-scenes thumb on the scale the Dem powers are so good at. Believe me, I know about this from first-hand experience. The Democratic Party and their officials, by their very own rules, are not supposed to take sides in a Primary. Please tell me how the Dem establishment is doing nothing to back Hick and trash Romanoff.

            • Voyageur says:

              Obviously, they helped recruit hick, which they have an abs olute right to do.  But the establishment has not trashed Romo –far from it, they gave him top line.  But the trashing now coming from Romo's campaign of Hick, and the frenzied attacks of the flightless bird and her ilk, will leave scars.

              don't count Gardener out just yet.

        • MichaelBowman says:

          The Vaad appointment was really disappointing – and ultimately cost Pueblo ratepayers millions.  His waffling on ending Prohibition, even at one point saying he'd reverse the decision of the Colorado voters if he could, was a missed opportunity to be "the voice" nationally on accelerating the end of the War on Drugs Colored People.  We handed it to him on a silver platter. Ending Prohibition wasn't 'the great social experiment'; the 'great social experiment was Prohibition.  

          I get that both of those were to position him politically with a broader spectrum of voters for subsequent elections, but both of those decisions were moral decision at their core and I think he was on the wrong side of both issues. 

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            I get the hysterical hatred for Hickenlooper and the incessant wailing about his oil and gas connections but the guy did a bunch of other things that helped Coloradoans like signing the gun regulation bills after the Aurora shooting and helping turn Colorado Blue.  Romanoff also contributed to a better Colorado but it was entirely foreseeable that his campaign has nothing to offer except nastiness.  That's Romanoff in a nutshell.  I proudly voted for Hickenlooper and think he will enthusiastically caucus with Democrats.

            • MichaelBowman says:

              To be clear GG I don't have any hatred for JH, just some disappointments – both related directly to the work I'm been involved in.  I'll support him if he wins the primary. 

            • Duke Cox says:

              Opposition to Hicks' candidacy and and an honest assessment of his record hardly seems like hysterical hatred and incessant wailing. Such language is just a feeble attempt at diversion.

              Was there some fact about Johns' record or his personality that we got wrong? Firm support for Andrew does not equate to "hatred" of John Hickenlooper.

              Hick may very well wind up being the next senator from Colorado. There is a better man for the job, but only hysterical Hick haters support him.

              • Gilpin Guy says:

                Love the lyrical quality of "Hysterical Hick Haters".  Definitely has a ring to it.  The better man for the job isn't Andrew with his cowardly past regarding immigration.  A B level opportunist isn't as lyrical but fits.  Hyperbole is a time honored way of pointing out excessive attitudes and actions.  Vote you conscience in the primary and vote Gardner and his loathsome support for Trump and Barr out in November.  It's that simple.

            • JohnInDenver says:

              Honest question … how was Hick "helping turn Colorado Blue"?

              He was in office while it happened.  And I didn't follow campaigns all that closely in the decade of 2000-2010 — so perhaps I missed something. 

              What I've heard and read is a tale of what happened in 2004.  Jared Polis, Pat Stryker, Tim Gill and Rutt Bridges strategizing and spending [by the end of the cycle, "Stryker had given over $850,000; Gill nearly $775,000; and Polis and Bridges just over $400,000 each"].  Organizing coherence among Colorado Education Association, "Colorado’s branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL); Tony Massaro, who ran Colorado Conservation Voters (CCV); Steve Adams, who represented the AFL-CIO; and Jennifer Brandeberry, who represented the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association." And a close focus on the state House and Senate.  Followed by another push on the House and Senate in 2006. 

              2008 had the party structure revitalized by the Presidential primary and the national campaign. 

              Those three cycles set up a virtuous cycle, with more experienced people as candidates and staff, which bred more success.  Hick was a beneficiary in 2010. 

              But I've not heard that his 2010 campaign was especially tightly coordinated with legislative campaigns or the campaigns for other state-wide offices.  Those of you more wired in … was Hick a substantial part of the "blue" victories of that first decade?

              • Gilpin Guy says:

                Honest answer – Who the fuck cares as long as Gardner gets beat in November.  Hickenlooper won twice statewide and the state enjoyed prosperity and peace while he was governor.

  7. Pedalman56 says:

    As someone who lives in CD3, I'm seeing that change of endorsement by John Salazar. You mean the guy who voted 1/3 of the time with the GOP, voted for the Real I.D. Act, and voted for changes to the bankruptcy law that hurt middle class Coloradans is now supporting Hickenlooper? Sounds right to me.

  8. Duke Cox says:

    “You don’t build yourself up by tearing another man down,” Salazar said. “That’s why I am supporting John Hickenlooper. He doesn’t do negative campaigning against his friends.”

    And his friends are???…Anadarko, Noble, the 17th st. Titans, the Petroleum Princes. Larry Mizel. Those are Johns ‘ friends. His enemies? Renewable energy?..Socialism…? Legal marijuana?

    Our former governor has been hanging with wealthy donors for so long, he thinks like they do. EOS


  9. doremi says:

    Not surprising that Michael Bennet would come to his buddy Hick's defense, but surprised that he would FALSELY claim that the Romanoff ad is false.  Sorry, even the Denver Post stated the allegations are true. 

    Also intriguing that he claims Hickenlooper passed Universal BG checks. No, he didn't do a thing to pass the bill, he just signed it.  He likewise signed the High Capacity Magazine Ban, but a year later claimed to the county sheriffs that he had made a mistake.  But then in 2019 made it a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Yikes! 

    Schumer and the DSCC are running an operation that would make a Mafia boss proud.  Right at this time, they are pressuring interest groups to join the Hick train, even if he doesn't shine as well on their issue as Romanoff.  Sort of like…"Nice little bill you have there, wouldn't want to see anything bad happen to it."  Also, political professionals who were looking to work for Romanoff were scared away with threats to their future careers working on Democratic campaigns.  We have a president now who runs his office like a mobster, it irks me to see the party I work so hard for run the same way.  Enough to chase me away after this is all over (Hurrah,  I should have more time for the rest of my life!).  Why bother?  It's all fixed by the big guys, who are rolling in the dough from Energy and Pharmaceuticals.   

    This nation needs to make major changes, but don't look for any of that from Bennet and Hick. (I'll never forget that Bennet came out for the Public Option on Obamacare AFTER it was already declared dead). 

    Expect the party establishment funds Colorado Pols also (who does???).  

    • Voyageur says:

      We'd tell you who funds Pols but then Soros would have to kill you.

    • MADCO says:

      If not Bennet 

      2010 Buck
      2016 Glenn

      If not Hick

      2010 Tancredo or Maze
      2014 Beauprez


      I like winning.
      And what's that you say? The party – that you love and I despise – wants to do something or support someone I didn't supoprt.

      The party doesn't care about you – unless you write big, BIG, checks.
      Party doesn't care about me either, but I don't pretend that the party is something other than what it is. Call it corporate, call it Wall Street, call it anytihing you want – just don't pretend you are surprised over, and over and over and over and over. At some point you have to see it – or who's fault is it?  Not Chuck Shumer not Nancy Pelosi, not Tip Oneill, not Mayor Daley. etc



  10. spaceman65 says:

    Hick will bumble his way through the primary and probably win, and likely unseat Gardner, which is a good thing.  But I'm under no delusions that Hick will be a senator to be proud of.  He's aloof, tone-deaf, and largely clueless.  And doesn't seem particularly enthusiastic to be a legislator.  The lesser evil compared to Gardner, but damn so far inferior to others that left the race. 

  11. JohnInDenver says:

    John Hickenlooper has finished 4 races [not counting his "no-hope" campaign for President], two with the advantages of incumbency, zero running against an incumbent.  I'm not certain anyone would tout the opponents as savvy campaigners:  Donald J. Mares, Danny F. Lopez, Dan Maes & Tom Tancredo, Bob Beauprez.

    Maybe I don't hang out in the right circles … but I've not met a passionate advocate for Hickenlooper.  I've met lots who say "he'll probably be able to win."




    • Voyageur says:

      Hick is 4-0 in big aces.  Romo 0-2 in big races.  

      that's batting 1.000 as opposed to batting 0.000.

      Maybe people aren't passionate for hick but they sure seem to vote for him.  

      Hasn't Bernie cured you of that passionate loser virus yet?

      Sigh. Read Colorado Sun.  A new pac is trashing Romo.  That circular democratic firing squad may save gardener yet.

      Sigh.  What goes around comes around.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      I’ve heard it said that you run against the other candidates in the race not some shadowy super candidate who lives in the shadows of the mind.  Hickenlooper handily beat his opponents when it came time to count the votes.  Gardner having voted for Barr and acquittal is a very vulnerable opponent.  It could be that Hickenlooper was born under a lucky star when it comes to running against weak opponents.

  12. RepealAndReplace says:

    I cannot get over the nasty, mud-slinging commercials Romo has resorted to running, followed by the commercial of Con Man Cory watching Hick on TV denigrate running for or serving in the Senate.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. Romo must realized that this is his last hurrah so (to borrow a phrase from You-Know-Who), "What the hell does Andrew have to lose?"

  13. Duke Cox says:

     Start with his dignity and credibility. 

    Hahahahahahahahahaha…you mean like that stuff Hick has in such abundance?

    That IS the funniest thing I have seen in a while.

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