LAKEWOOD–While political prognosticators are claiming Democrat Brittany Pettersen has the edge over Republican Erik Aadland to represent Colorado’s recently re-drawn 7th Congressional District, a very last-minute — and very large — infusion of national Democrat dark money against Aadland seems to tell a different story.
As of the beginning of November, the Cook Political Report has the race for CD-7, which encompasses Jefferson, Lake, Park, Teller, Fremont, Chaffee and Custer counties, along with a slice of Broomfield as “likely Democrat,” while Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics rates the race “leans Democrat.”
But a recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing shows the House Majority PAC — a so-called “super-PAC” that focuses exclusively on electing Democrats — spending $339,015 in TV advertising against Aadland on November 3, less than a week before the November 8 election. That brings the super-PAC’s total spending in CD-7 to over $680,000.
A big money dump this late in the game means Democrats see the race as tighter than the forecasters claim it to be, according to Republican strategist Dick Wadhams, who has run multiple political campaigns in Colorado.
“If national Democrats were confident in Brittany Pettersen’s numbers, they would not be dumping $339K of negative ads against Aadland into this race this late, especially when they have so many incumbents they are trying to save around the country, ” Wadhams told Complete Colorado.
The cash infusion also caught the attention of longtime political reporter Jesse Paul, who writes for the Colorado Sun, a left-of-center blog. Paul called the late spending “interesting” given that the seat has been mostly considered “pretty safe” for Democrats. “Colorado’s 8th District is where you’d probably expect the cash to go in CO…” he Tweeted.
Indeed, Real Clear Politics recently shifted the highly competitive CD-8 race in northern Colorado to “leans Republican.”
“Democrats are super nervous because they know they are losing in Colorado. Our candidates have the momentum and energy,” said State Republican Party press secretary Joe Jackson in a media release mentioning the closing hour PAC spending. “More far-left money from Washington DC isn’t going to save these Democrats.”
Despite being the heir-apparent to retiring Congressman Ed Perlmutter–she faced no opponent in the Democratic primary election–Pettersen has been dragged down by baggage from her time in the Colorado legislature. As a state senator, Pettersen threw her support behind so-called ‘safe injection sites’ for intravenous drug users, an idea that proved too radical even for her fellow progressives and was killed off by other legislative Democrats. Pettersen also recently back-pedaled from past support for de-funding federal immigration enforcement agencies.
While CD-7 has long been held by Democrats, last year’s redistricting shifted boundaries to make the district more competitive, giving the GOP a shot at taking the seat.
“Aadland is running a great campaign and has a strong ground game. He is going to win,” said Jackson.
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