State now ground zero in battle for Senate

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By Greg Romberg

Talk about a game changer!

Polling has suggested that U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is vulnerable as he seeks re-election this fall, but conventional wisdom was that none of his announced challengers were gaining much traction.
Then, last week, less than a week before precinct caucuses would mark the formal beginning of the process for major parties to choose their nominees, Congressman Cory Gardner dropped a bombshell when he announced he would abandon his re-election campaign for the 4th Congressional District and challenge Udall instead.
While Gardner’s voting record reflects his conservative philosophy, his affable nature, experience as a state legislator and member of Congress, and battle readiness will make it difficult for Udall to paint him as an extremist.
And let’s talk about what it means that Gardner is walking away from a House seat he could easily hold for the rest of his political life while climbing the ranks of House leadership to challenge Udall. Colorado is now ground zero in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.
Democratic senators in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Michigan and Iowa are not seeking re-election this year, making all of those seats vulnerable to Republican pick-ups. If they all shift to the GOP, just one more Republican win would give control of the Senate to the GOP.
And what does this mean to you? Think back to nonstop television ads in 2010 during the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Michael Bennet and Ken Buck and the ads for the 2012 presidential race. The 6th Congressional District race between incumbent Republican Mike Coffman and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff is slated to be among the most competitive in the country. Now our Senate race will attract virtually unlimited national attention and campaign cash. Expect your fall to be full of, “I’m (candidate of your choice), and I approved this message.”
Colorado’s diversity has made us look very purple as much of the country has gotten more red or more blue. The state House of Representatives has swung from Democratic to Republican and back to Democratic control in the last three elections. Our congressional delegation has four Republican and three Democratic members. Both of our U.S. senators are Democrats, as is our governor, but the attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state are all Republicans.
Now that Cory Gardner is the likely Republican nominee to challenge Mark Udall, this race becomes much more interesting, much more targeted and much more watched than it was just a week ago.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.