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Tipsheet

Democrats Burned Money to Meddle in Republican Primaries in Colorado, and It Backfired Terribly

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On Tuesday, many primary races took place across the country, including in Colorado, where Democrats made news for meddling in Republican primaries, a move in violation of state and federal law, which backfired terribly. Overall, Democrats looked to have spent what looks to be $14 million, including an estimated $10 million in the Senate race. 

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Through several different channels, Democrats attempted to meddle in races for governor, as well as U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Each one of the candidates that they attempted to prop up lost. 

Despite efforts from Democrats to meddle, Heidi Ganahl beat Greg Lopez to become the Republican gubernatorial nominee, winning 53.83 percent of the vote compared to Lopez's 46.17 percent. When it comes to the Senate, Joe O'Dea beat Ron Hanks by nearly nine percentage points, 54.46 percent to Hanks' 45.54 percent. As of Friday, an estimated 91 percent of the vote has been reported.

In the 8th Congressional District, Barbara Kirkmeyer won with 40.9 percent of the vote. Lori Saine, who was boosted by Nancy Pelosi's House Majority PAC, came in third out of four candidates, with 19.9 percent of the vote. 

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Particularly newsworthy is how Democrats broke state law by sending mailers to meddle in the Senate race. As Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown explained to Townhall, fake mailers claimed that the Colorado Republican Party endorsed a particular primary candidate, which it does not. Further, the mailers did not disclose where they came from, which is in violation of federal law. The mailers even had a logo that made it look as if they were coming from the Colorado Republican Party. It's a violation of state law to deceive voters about where mailers are coming from. 

The Democratic Governor's Association took credit for meddling in the governor's race, and the Colorado Democratic Party was also involved in meddling. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also spoke about spending money. 

How were the unidentified mailers traced to Democrats? As Brown explained, the mailers contained a small union stamp, which was traced back to a mail house that Democrats used in Iowa. Attorneys are looking further into the situation and what next steps to take, especially as those steps could involve fines, defamation suits, and the courts. 

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), further highlighted the role Democrats played in a particularly bold letter dated June 29 addressed to "Democrat Donors." 

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In his letter, Scott mentioned: 

A group called Democratic Colorado, which we'll likely find out is linked to and funded by Chuck Schumer's network (to which you are a donor), spent north of $4 million on TV in a desperate attempt to meddle in the Republican primary and damage Joe O'Dea. Adding in the cost of direct mail pieces (which were blatantly illegal and the subject of a variety of lawsuits) and other organizing activities, estimates put the total Democrat spending in the Colorado primary at $10 million. 

And what did Chuck Schumer get for his $10 million investment in the Colorado primary? Well, he got $10 million poorer. He revealed to the world that Democrats know Michael Bennett is vulnerable. And he got Joe O'Dea (the candidate he and Michael Bennet feared) as the Republican nominee -- and a much stronger nominee than he would have been if Democrats had ignored the primary altogether. 

Bang up job, Chuck.

Scott also thanked Schumer at length and highlighted the vulnerability of Bennet as well as other Democratic candidates: 

I would like to take a moment to thank Chuck and whichever of his advisors came up with the idiotic idea to blow your money on a foolhardy strategy that was destined to fall from the beginning. You did more than I or the NRSC ever could to show what we've known for a while: Michael Bennet is a weak incumbent and vulnerable in November.

Not only that, by spending the millions of dollars they did in Colorado, Chuck Schumer and his allies only strengthened Joe O'Dea as a candidate and made Michael Bennet's path to victory even tougher. It also made the path to victory tougher for candidates like Cheri Beasley, Tim Ryan, Val Demings and Michael Franken who are counting on significant outside investment but aren't seeing it. 

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Those vulnerable candidates include Democratic incumbents: 

And it made the path to victory tougher for Democratic incumbents like Raphael Warnock, Mark Kelly, Catherine Cortez Masto, Patty Murray and Maggie Hassan who are fighting for their lives to desperately hold on to their seats. And for Democratic challengers like John Fetterman and whatever radical comes out of the Democrat primary in Wisconsin, who are locked in tight battles in states Democrats must win to have any chance of holding on to the majority.

The narrative across the board is not only that Democrats wasted money – which they did, with Brown emphasizing, "Democrats lit $10 million on fire and got absolutely nothing" – but that they further exposed how vulnerable Democratic incumbents are. 

Brown emphasized the independence of Colorado voters, especially considering that similar Democratic tactics worked in the Illinois governor's race, where state Sen. Darren Bailey became the nominee to challenge Gov. J.B Pritzker. 

Those winning candidates in Colorado – Ganahl, O'Dea, and Kirkmeyer – became stronger candidates for it, Brown offered, as they engaged in voter contact, something which "should scare the Democrats a lot in Colorado," a state which they don't typically consider to be on the map, but now is. Brown highlighted how the Republican candidates "spent significantly less than $10 million" to win their primary races. 

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That U.S. Senate seat, currently held by Democrat Michael Bennett, is also one to watch because of how vulnerable he is. Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball consider the race to be only "Likely Democratic," meaning it's not a sure thing for Bennett. Further, as Brown pointed out, there's polling showing only a point between Bennett and a generic Republican. 

In April, NPR included Bennett's seat as part of "The top 10 Senate seats that are most likely to flip to the other party." 

The failed meddling shows how vulnerable the Democrats are, Brown offered, and it also shows the strength of the Republican candidates who emerged victorious. The move, Brown pointed out, "shows how effective the Democrats believe candidates are this year, and how compelling the people of Colorado will find Joe O'Dea, Heidi Ganahl, and Barbara Kirkmeyer," all who have been entrepreneurs and small business owners. Brown spoke of these candidates as people "who have real stories," who "are able to identify with families here in Colorado," and who represent Colorado Republicans as a party of working families and parents. "Democrats didn't want to face that, and now they have to," Brown shared. 

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