DENVER — It’s Colorado Sen. Mark Udall’s name on the November ballot, but Democrats are working hard to make this fall’s midterm elections a referendum on the billionaire Koch brothers.
With growing unease about sinking poll numbers and the increasingly real possibility of losing control of the Senate, Democrats have realized that even the most full-throated defense of Obamacare may not save several vulnerable members from losing their seats.
That’s why so many Colorado Democrats were actually trying to draw attention to the new TV ad attacking Udall that began airing Monday — because it’s paid for by Americans For Prosperity, a conservative SuperPAC that operates largely on money from billionaires Charles and David Koch.
Since October, AFP has spent $30 million to run ads attacking Democrats over Obamacare.
“The American people don’t want to have their elections bought by just a few people. I think it’s very important that people know who’s paying for these ads,” Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told POLITICO.
A few weeks ago, the DSCC launched a website, www.kochaddiction.com, depicting the Kansas-based Koch (pronounced “Coke”) brothers as self-serving oil barons who pay huge sums to try to “buy” elections and advance their agenda of low taxes and less regulation.
Democrats accuse the Koch brothers of peddling phony Obamacare horror stories to weaken Udall and other Democrats who supported the landmark healthcare law.
In the 30-second AFP ad that started airing Monday in Denver and Colorado Springs, a female actor (she appears in an identical version of the ad also airing in Louisiana) offers broad talking points about policy cancellations and spiking premiums.
“People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either,” she says into the camera. “But health care isn’t about politics. It’s about people.”
The Udall campaign responded by blasting the Koch brothers, and Congressman Cory Gardner, the Republican Udall is likely to face in the fall.
“The Koch brothers are pouring their tainted money into our state because they know Congressman Cory Gardner will continue fighting for their interests, not Coloradans’,” said Chris Harris, Udall’s campaign spokesman.
“Mark Udall has a long record fighting for to protect Colorado’s way of life and working for real change without compromising his principles or our Colorado values. Coloradans take their independence seriously. As we saw in 2008 and 2010, Colorado voters don’t take their cues from dark money groups that bombard the airwaves with misleading attacks.”
A Democratic group called Protect Your Care also issued a statement calling the ad “recycled” and blasting AFP for using “an out-of-state actor” to help the Koch brothers “take health care away from millions of Americans who now have health insurance, including more than 220,000 Coloradans who have signed up through the state’s exchange.”
And Udall’s campaign and Organizing For Action, President Obama’s political network, are now sending fundraising requests to supporters urging them to fight back against “groups are spreading myths and scare tactics.”
Gardner’s campaign has been silent thus far, but AFP is promising that the TV ad that began airing Monday is just the beginning.
“I’m sure Sen. Udall doesn’t like people being reminded that he supports ObamaCare, or that he lied to Coloradans when he promised we could all keep our health care plan and our doctors if we liked them,” said AFP’s Colorado director, Dustin Zvonek.
“Unfortunately for Senator Udall, these TV ads are only part of our overall efforts to hold him accountable. In the coming weeks will engage our network of nearly 68,000 Colorado activists to hold phone banks and go door-to-door reminding Coloradan’s that Senator Udall continues to put his allegiance to the Presidents failed health care policy before the needs of the people he represents.”
Also, Colorado’s top conservative blog mocked the coordinated Democratic outrage over the Kochs and their ads, arguing that the content therein — “millions of people have lost their health insurance…millions of people can’t see their own doctor…millions are paying more and getting less,” the woman in the ad says — speaks for itself.
“Bang the table and shout at the top of your lungs Lefties because these statements are true and Udall is fully culpable for each of them,” write the folks at Colorado Peak Politics.
In Colorado, the state Dept. of Insurance has estimated that around 250,000 Coloradans have had their health insurance policies cancelled under Obamacare; a majority of those people, however, have been offered replacement plans — in many cases more expensive, in some cases less — that meet new federal coverage mandates that are also part of the law.