Republican voters in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional district picked state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer as their nominee Tuesday, rejecting Democratic efforts to boost former state Rep. Lori Saine, who received financial backing from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s PAC.
Kirkmeyer, a Colorado state senator, garnered 40.9% of the vote while Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann got 22.8% and Saine took 19.6% with 97% of votes tallied.
Colorado is one of several states where Democrats have aided conservative or far-right candidates, betting that they’ll be easier to defeat in the fall.
That was the case with Saine, who was boosted by $46,000 in TV ads by the Pelosi-run House Majority PAC. The ads highlighted Saine’s support for former President Donald Trump’s voter fraud claims in 2020, as well as her anti-abortion and pro-gun rights stances.
“Do we really want a conservative warrior as our next member of Congress?” went the script for one ad, which concluded: “Lori Saine: She’s way too conservative for Colorado.”
Elsewhere, Democrats spent more than $2 million on Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks’ US Senate candidacy, betting on him to knock out businessman Joe O’Dea over GOP voter discomfort with O’Dea’s moderate stance on abortion.
In Illinois, the Democratic Governors Association spent big on ads supporting state Sen. Darren Bailey, who opposed Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 shutdown.
And in Pennsylvania, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro spent more than six figures on adds attacking GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano during the GOP primary. Mastriano — who organized bus trips to Washington for Trump supporters to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally that precipitated the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, and was spotted in video footage walking with his wife through breached barricades — eventually pulled away from a crowded field to win the contest.
Some Democrats have warned against the tactic, saying it could backfire in a midterm environment expected to be hostile to the party.
“This has to be done very carefully,” former Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who successfully boosted Republican Todd Akin in his primary before defeating him to win reelection in 2012, told NPR this week. “You also have to be careful what you wish for.”
Kirkmeyer will take on Yadira Caraveo, a state legislator.