Election 2020 Colorado Senate

Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper, front, talks during a debate with Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner during a debate between the candidates Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Fort Collins, Colo.

The leading Democratic super PAC devoted to Senate candidates on Friday pulled its television advertising from Colorado, suggesting the group thinks Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper is on track to defeating Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

Senate Majority PAC is canceling its remaining $1.2 million ad buy and diverting the spending elsewhere, as the Democrats expand the number of Republican-held seats they see as vulnerable.

The move comes on the heels of recent polling showing Hickenlooper with a lead averaging 10 points over Gardner in a state that has been trending toward the Democrats in the six years since the Republican was elected to the Senate.

In addition, Gardner this week reported raising $7 million for the most recent fundraising quarter, far short of the $22.6 million raised by Hickenlooper during the period. After running a cash advantage all year, Gardner started October with $6.8 million in the bank, while Hickenlooper had $7.2 million.

"We've been encouraged for a long time about the race that Governor Hickenlooper is running," Senate Majority PAC spokeswoman Rachel Irwin told Colorado Politics. "Given his strong fundraising and multiple public polls showing him ahead by double digits, we believe Governor Hickenlooper is in good shape heading into the final stretch."

Added Irwin: "It was a big mistake for Cory Gardner to proudly embrace President Trump and enable his worst policies when he should have put the people of Colorado first."

Polling has shown Trump, who lost the state by about 5 points in 2016, remains unpopular with Colorado voters and is running an average 15 points behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

A spokesman for Gardner's campaign suggested that the Democratic group's moves mean it's giving up hope of winning Colorado.

"It's clear the Democrats also know John Hickenlooper has no chance of winning," Jerrod Dobkin, Gardner's communications director, said in a statement.

Hickenlooper's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment. 

Senate Majority PAC has spent about $15 million this year in Colorado on TV and digital ads in English and Spanish. The group plans to continue spending modestly on the Democrats' get-out-the-vote effort.

The Democratic group's Republican counterpart, the Senate Leadership Fund, has been spending steadily on TV and digital ads attacking Hickenlooper, and on Tuesday purchased another $1 million worth of advertising in Colorado, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The total is just a fraction of what the GOP group is spending this week in other states with Republican-held Senate seats, including Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, Maine, Montana and Iowa.

The Democratic group's move was first reported by The Associated Press.

Democrats must net four seats to take the majority of the Senate after the November election, or three seats if the party wins the White House.

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