As readers know, Colorado Republicans are furiously sounding the alarm over ads running ahead of the June 28th primary attacking Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and governor Ron Hanks and Greg Lopez. Republican strategists interpret these ads as an attempt to boost what they consider to be the undesirable candidate in the race–in the process betraying their own biases. Democrats counter correctly that Hanks and Lopez are much closer ideologically to the voters who will decide the nomination, and that’s not their fault.
Although Republicans are trying to portray Democratic ads ahead of their primary as some kind of unprecedented act of treachery, as Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, “meddling in primaries” is neither new nor the exclusive tactic of either side:
Both parties have histories of trying to sway the outcome of the other’s primaries, usually by running ads attacking the less moderate candidates, who are considered easier to defeat in a general election…
National Democrats tried something similar in 2014 by attacking former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo for his conservative positions, but former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez won the gubernatorial nomination after he blasted the “dishonest, negative attacks and underhanded tactics.”
The NRSC took the same tack in Colorado in the last election, albeit on a smaller scale, though it didn’t work. In a billboard campaign and targeted ads that drew national attention, the Republicans linked Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff and other more left-leaning primary candidates to popular progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman known as AOC. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper won the nomination and went on to deny Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner a second term.
We wrote about the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s “Andrew [Romanoff] and AOC: One and The Same” campaign when it happened and…well, it was clever enough, while also as we said at the time being fairly telling about the NRSC’s desired opponent in the general election. It didn’t work for Republicans in 2020 against the well-known and popular Hickenlooper, but the dynamics of the 2022 GOP primary are very different. This time, you have two candidates with very poor name recognition, and Joe O’Dea is seriously deficient ideologically relative to the voters he’s trying to win over. The other candidate, Rep. Hanks, has a platform much more naturally aligned with the Republican base on just about every issue.
Where the NRSC’s boosting Andrew Romanoff didn’t work, helping GOP primary voters understand the ideological differences between Joe O’Dea and Ron Hanks could be decisive. That’s why Republicans are pushing back so furiously, hoping “smart” Republican voters “see through” the tactic and vote for…
The more light shed, the reason O’Dea’s backers are so on edge becomes very clear.