On Monday, the first morning of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Colorado’s top Democratic operative pummeled Darryl Glenn, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, during a conference call with reporters.
Glenn, an underdog county commissioner from El Paso, vaulted to the nomination over four better-funded rivals, aligning himself with hard-right, anti-establishment conservative figures and groups.
His nomination in Colorado, a purple swing state where national Republicans hope to flip the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet, earned Glenn a coveted speaking spot on the national convention stage. It’s the kind of gig generally reserved for rising stars in the party.
So it wasn’t surprising that back in the Rocky Mountain West, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio chose Monday to tear Glenn down. One major attack Palacio leveled at Glenn focused on his oft-cited critique of bipartisanship throughout his successful primary campaign.
“[Glenn] said several times that he believes the problem with Washington is that there is too much bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans,” Palacio said.
Glenn said as much during his first major speech at the April state Republican convention, in a barnburner that earned him the top line on the primary ballot.
“One thing I’m absolutely tired of hearing is Republicans are reaching across the aisle,” he told the assembled crowd that day. “We need to step up and lead, ladies and gentlemen.”
Before and after winning the nomination, Glenn has insisted that he will not moderate his approach to win over mainstream Coloradans, even in a general election, in a swing state, where more than one million voters are not registered with a political party.
Speaking at a Republican event in El Paso County last weekend, Glenn underscored that point.
“I was always asked on the campaign trail, ‘What are you going to do to pivot? What are you going to do to pivot to become more moderate?’” he said. “The issues I’m talking about are about freedom and loving people. It’s about the defense of this country, it’s about energy independence, it’s about fiscal responsibility. Where in there do we talk about partisan politics? We don’t. We talked about coming together as a country, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
But Democrats see success for Bennet, who already has more than $6 million on hand for the race, by using Glenn’s own strategy against him.
“He’s standing up for his own unapologetic extreme conservatism,” Palacio said Monday. He added that Glenn supports Donald Trump for president and wants Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court.
Just as Democrats paint Glenn as “too extreme” for Colorado, Republicans are doing the same to Bennet, tying him to the policies of President Barack Obama, from Obamacare to Common Core to the Iran nuclear deal, which Bennet voted for.
One of Glenn’s former rivals in the primary, ex-NFL quarterback Jack Graham, has emerged as a surrogate for Glenn and has gone after Bennet as a zealous partisan politician and a creature of Washington, D.C.
“He was the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, that’s the most partisan job in the Senate,” Graham said a recent stop on a Colorado GOP unity tour across the state. “He spent countless hours raising money for other politicians rather than representing Colorado and doing his job. He chose partisan politics, that was his choice. He chose to become a warrior for a political party rather than representing Colorado and rather than getting something done for our country.”
In 2014, Republican Cory Gardner beat Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in part by relentlessly tying him to Obama during a wave Republican mid-term election year, saying Udall voted with Obama 99 percent of the time. Republicans are already using a similar line against Bennet, though they’ve dialed it back to 98 percent.
In assessing that claim, the nonpartisan PolitiFact Colorado called it “close,” but also stated that it’s incorrect for anyone to say Bennet is “hardly bipartisan,” as one former GOP primary candidate had.
For his part, speaking to reporters Monday during the call, Palacio said Bennet has “a lot of close allies on both sides of the aisle.”
“The truth is that Michael is one of the most bipartisan senators that we have in the U.S. Senate right now,” he said.
Also on the November ballot for U.S. Senate this year is Green Party candidate Arn Menconi and Libertarian Lily Williams.
[Photo credit: Daniel Lobo via Creative Commons on Flickr]