Bennet fishing TV ad

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, right, goes fishing with unaffiliated angler Greg Felt on the Arkansas River in a TV ad released by the Colorado Democrat's reelection campaign on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Bennet is facing a challenge from Republican business owner Joe O'Dea.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet catches a fish in his second general election TV ad, which highlights the Colorado Democrat's record on public lands.

The ad starts airing Tuesday.

The 30-second ad, made available to Colorado Politics in advance of its release, features fly fishing guide Greg Felt, an unaffiliated voter from Salida, who credits Bennet with fighting for public land as he stands knee-deep in the Arkansas River, fly rod in hand.

“We all know what happens when a senator goes to Washington. Special interests get their hooks in 'em, and they get caught in the mess. But not Michael Bennet. He’s always focused on Colorado," says Felt.

"I’m not a Democrat, but I know Michael doesn’t take the bait from Washington. He works for Colorado."

Adds Felt: “He’s leading the fight to defend our way of life. Protecting our public lands. Promoting forest and watershed health. And supporting businesses like mine.”

Set to run for two weeks on broadcast stations in the Denver and Colorado Springs markets, the spot includes footage of Bennet joining Felt in the river, along with a photograph of the two displaying a sizable fish.

“I’m Michael Bennet. I approve this message. And I caught that fish," the candidate says.

Bennet's campaign is spending $600,000 on the ad, his campaign said — doubling to $1.2 million the sum he's spent since mid-July, when he became the first candidate to hit Colorado airwaves after the primary.

Seeking his third, full term, Bennet faces a challenge from construction company owner Joe O'Dea, who survived an expensive primary against a more conservative, underfunded Republican, state Rep. Ron Hanks. O'Dea has yet to go on air since his primary victory.

“Michael knows Colorado’s public lands are critical to our state’s economy, our heritage, and our way of life," Bennet campaign manager Justin Lamorte told Colorado Politics in a written statement. "It’s why he’s worked so hard to pass legislation in the Senate that will safeguard our outdoor spaces for everyone, regardless of their political party.”

Bennet's campaign pointed to legislation signed into law this year with the senator's backing to establish Amache, a World War II-era Japanese-American internment camp in Southeast Colorado, as a National Historic Site, and last year's massive, bipartisan infrastructure law, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars to help Colorado and other states recover from wildfire. Included in the law is Bennet legislation to restore forests and grassland, reduce wildfire risk and protect water supplies.

Felt is serving his second term as an unaffiliated Chaffee County commissioner. According to campaign finance reports, he's made modest contributions to Republican and Democratic candidates over the last dozen years.

“Michael is an independent thinker who listens to and learns from Coloradans," campaign spokeswoman Georgina Beven said in an email. "Michael’s work to protect Colorado’s public lands reflects the conversations he’s had with people who know the needs of their local communities the best, including conservationists, outdoor reaction business owners, ranchers, and farmers.”

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