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DENVER — After losing out to Ryan Frazier in his bid to be the Republican challenger to Congressman Ed Perlmutter in 2010, Gulf War veteran and pilot Lang Sias has his eyes on the Colorado state senate.

But Democratic operatives have their eyes on a mailer Sias sent out in support of his bid for Colorado Senate District 19 — specifically, on a photo that’s clearly been edited since it was initially used during Sias’s 2010 campaign.

The photo shows Sias talking with a constituent, with three supporters in the background holding his campaign signs, each of which have yellow papers highlighting endorsements taped to them.

In the original photo, the sign closest to Sias is covered with a yellow paper that reads: “Tea Party Endorsed.”

Two years ago, that was a positive, especially in a GOP primary.

These days, with Sias challenging Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak for her seat in a district that’s almost evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters — never mind the Tea Party’s waning momentum — that endorsement is more of a negative.

Or at least Sias must have figured so, because a direct mail piece sent by his Senate campaign features the same photo from 2010, only with the words “Tea Party Endorsed” photo-shopped out.

Sias’s campaign has not returned a Monday phone call from FOX31 Denver seeking a comment on the Photoshopping.

“I just think it’s a sign of the times,” said state Sen. Betty Boyd. “I think he is just blowing in the wind. He thought it would help him before.

“And I don’t know how in the world can you even say ‘Tea Party endorsed’, as if it were an organized group that does real endorsements. That, to me, is pandering for votes when there is no such thing.

“It also says he’s running now just in Jefferson County and he doesn’t think it’s going to help him there. The voters there aren’t that far to the right, and he realizes that. He’s just running away from the Tea Party.”

Boyd said she’s less concerned with the use of Photoshop to alter the photo.

“In terms of photo-shopping, that’s done all the time,” she said. “If he’s photo-shopping in a person who isn’t there, that would be unethical.

“I can’t remember doing it with my mailers, but this kind of photo-shopping does happen.”