Airwaves so far silent on race for state House

At this time two years ago, Grand Junction residents could not turn on their televisions without seeing an ad making the case for state Rep. Bernie Buescher’s Republican challenger, Bob Caskey.

This year, however, independent political groups have yet to interject themselves into Buescher’s re-election bid on behalf of Collbran Republican Laura Bradford.

Political experts from across the state said the lack of outside money flowing into the county in support of Bradford could be a sign that House District 55 might not be ripe for takeover this year.

John Straayer, a political science professor at Colorado State University, said the GOP could be focused on other more winnable legislative races in the Denver suburbs and around Fort Collins.

“It may be that they’ve decided they can’t get at Buescher because he’s the odds-on favorite to be the speaker (of the House),” Straayer said.

Katy Atkinson, a Denver-based Republican political consultant, said it is possible that conservative political groups are saving their ammunition until later in the year.

Atkinson said these groups also could be waiting to see how Bradford does without the help before they invest in her contest.

“Is she viable? Is she the kind of candidate that would have to be the creation of a 527 — that couldn’t stand up on her own if she didn’t have a 527 propping her up?” Atkinson said.

Bradford has started running TV and radio advertisements of her own, but the associated costs — totaling $11,546 in August — have left her with less than $1,500 in the bank.

Meanwhile, Buescher, who has had two outside political groups advertising on his behalf, had nearly $42,000 in his campaign account at the end of August.

“The outside money is going to come in regardless,” Bradford said Friday.

Looking ahead, she said policymakers should explore how to limit special interests’ involvement in candidate races.

Underlining the situation in the race, the independent political campaign arm of Republicans in the state House, the Colorado Leadership Fund, has not spent any money backing Bradford, according to Assistant House
Minority Leader David Balmer, R-Centennial.

According to the committee’s August campaign finance disclosure, it paid $297,558 to a Grand Junction company, Rock Chalk Media, for television ads and mailers.

“Those were for TV ads that we ran in other districts,” Balmer said.

He declined to comment on whether the committee plans to invest in Bradford’s race.

Walt Klein, a Denver-based Republican consultant, said he thinks independent groups eventually will involve themselves in state races, including Bradford’s race, in the form of attack ads.

He said unfortunately these groups see going negative as the only way to win.

“Somebody wrote the book, the standard text that both the Republican and Democratic campaign training
schools use,” Klein said, “because that’s the way it works in virtually every part of the country and every level of the campaign process.”


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