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Election 2022

The GOP primary in Colorado’s highly competitive 8th Congressional District is Democrats’ latest TV ad target

Democrats are already running ads in Colorado’s Republican primaries for U.S. Senate and governor this year, seeking to advance the most conservative — and controversial — candidates in those races

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Democrats have added Colorado’s new, highly competitive 8th Congressional District to the list of Republican primary races this year in which they are spending large sums to try to influence the outcome. 

The House Majority PAC, which is affiliated with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and 314 Action Fund, a political action committee that backs Democratic candidates with a background in science, are paying for the TV time. Each group is spending nearly $46,000 on their respective ads, which run through June 27, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of political ad contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission. 

The primary election is June 28.

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GOP candidates in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District must balance wooing conservatives now, winning over moderates later

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Democrats are already running ads in Colorado’s Republican primaries for U.S. Senate and governor this year, seeking to advance the most conservative — and controversial — candidates in those races. The idea appears to be to make the general election easier to win for Democrats by advancing candidates the party thinks won’t be attractive to a broader electorate. 

But the tactic doesn’t come without risks for Democrats: If the GOP candidates they are advancing win their primaries and then the general election, Democrats will have helped place election deniers and staunchly anti-abortion candidates in the most influential positions in government.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Whoever wins the four-way GOP primary in the 8th District will face Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, of Thornton, in November. The 8th District is politically culturally diverse, spanning from the northeast Denver suburbs into Greeley and is considered one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country this year. The outcome of the race could determine which political party controls Congress.

The spending by the House Majority PAC and 314 Action Fund seems relatively low compared with Democratic ad spending in the Republican gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, which is well over $1 million. But because the 8th District ads air on cable, where advertising is less expensive, it’s more effective. More than 330 ads from each group will air before the primary, all on Fox News Channel.

House Majority PAC’s ad features Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, who says she is the most conservative candidate in the four-way Republican primary in the 8th District. Although the ad is framed as an attack on Saine, it also calls her a “conservative warrior” and highlights her strident positions on abortion, immigration and guns —stances that appeal to many Republicans. 

“House Majority PAC feels strongly that Coloradans deserve to know where their extremist candidates stand on the issues,” CJ Warnke, spokesman for House Majority PAC, said in a written statement to The Sun.

House Majority Project is spending another $88,000 on digital advertising, plus $8,200 on ad production, according to a Federal Election Commission filing.

The 314 Action Fund ad attacks state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, the presumptive frontrunner in the 8th District Republican primary, for not being conservative enough. “Colorado conservatives just can’t trust Barb Kirkmeyer,” the narrator says.

A spokesman for 314 Action Fund, which has endorsed Caraveo, who also works as a pediatrician, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno, a cochair of Kirkmeyer’s campaign, said in a written statement that 8th District voters should vote in a way that tells Pelosi to “stay out of our primary.”

The House Majority PAC and 314 Action Funds ads don’t mention the two other GOP candidates in the 8th District primary, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann or former Army Green Beret Tyler Allcorn, a political newcomer.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Kirkmeyer is the only candidate in the 8th District primary advertising on both cable and local television stations. Saine and Kulmann are airing ads solely on cable. On Tuesday, Saine bought nearly $9,200 worth of cable time to run through June 27.

The TV ads aren’t the only efforts by Democrats trying to influence the contest. Three mailers comparing Saine to Caraveo on the issues went out to voters, though they don’t say who sent them and they don’t suggest voting for either candidate. But a union insignia and the postal permit indicate they come from Democratic interests. And they appear to be positioning Saine favorably to conservative voters.

Republican outside groups are also spending on the race.

Colorado Conservatives for Retaking Congress has spent at least $50,000 on text messages and mailers labeling Kulmann and Saine liberals. That claim is obviously and demonstrably not true. The group is a federal super PAC formed late last year.

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The PAC is funded by a nonprofit called Colorado Dawn, a dark-money group that doesn’t have to reveal its donors.

The link between the PAC and the nonprofit is Daniel Cole, a longtime GOP operative in Colorado. His firm is doing the ad work for Colorado Conservatives for Retaking Congress and his name is on Colorado Dawn’s filings. Cole declined to reveal Colorado Dawn’s donors or to discuss what the PAC is trying to do, though the texts and mailers appear to be aimed at supporting Kirkmeyer’s bid.

Americans for Prosperity Colorado Action, a conservative group that has endorsed Kirkmeyer, has spent nearly $277,000 backing the state senator’s congressional candidacy, including  through mailers and door-to-door canvassing.Let America Work, another federal super PAC, recently spent $215,000 on mailers and digital ads to support Kirkmeyer and oppose Saine, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.



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