U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet hits Colorado airwaves Thursday with a statewide TV ad focusing on the Democrat's efforts to reform the political culture in Washington by curbing corporate influence.
Set to run for two weeks on broadcast and cable in the Denver and Colorado Springs markets, the 30-second spot is the first general election TV ad aired by a a candidate in Colorado this cycle, a distinction Bennet's campaign says points to the incumbent's massive cash advantage over Republican challenger Joe O'Dea.
With an ad buy estimated at $600,000, on top of an additional digital component, it's also the highest weekly ad spend by any candidate in the state so far this year.
“Just as our parents taught us, Susan and I have taught our girls: leave things better than you found them. But common sense like that has been lost in Washington," Bennet says in the ad as he walks along a trail above Clinton Gulch Reservoir in Summit County.
"It’s why I’m fighting to ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists. Why I’m not taking a dime in corporate PAC money. And why I’m working to stop senators and congressmen from making personal stock trades."
Bennet's campaign manger said in a statement that the ad demonstrates how his boss leads by example.
"Michael works hard, has a strong grassroots campaign, is the first candidate on the airwaves in the general election and is the clear choice for Coloradans in November,” said Justin Lamorte.
Bennet, who is seeking a third full term, finished June with more than $8 million on hand, more than nine times the $840,000 reported by O'Dea, whose campaign also had $1.2 million in debt, including $1 million owed to the candidate.
O'Dea emerged at the end of June from an unexpectedly expensive primary capped by millions of dollars spent by national Democrats to boost his underfunded rival, state Rep. Ron Hanks.
While national parties have so far held off committing dollars to the Colorado race, which is rated as a likely Democratic hold by most national election forecasters, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said the Senate GOP is "all-in" on O'Dea's bid, which could secure the majority for whichever party wins in November.
A spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party panned the ad, calling its message "laughable and completely out of touch."
Bennet, tweeted state GOP executive director Joe Jackson, "has NOT left things better. Gas is at a ridiculous price, inflation is through the roof, he failed to keep the BLM HQ in CO, failed on the Outdoor show."
Jackson added a jab at Bennet's pledge to refuse corporate PAC money, referencing corporate PAC contributions accepted by committees that ultimately donate funds to Bennet.
“Reaching audiences in Colorado’s key media markets this early ahead of the general speaks to the strength of the campaign Michael is running,” said Bennet campaign spokeswoman Georgina Beven in a statement.
“We’ve launched field offices, kicked off volunteer canvassing efforts, engaged with key groups around the state, and now we’re launching our first TV ad. We’re bolstering our road to the general with solid momentum, and we’re excited to re-elect Michael this November.”
Ballots start going in the mail to Colorado voters in just over 12 weeks, on Oct. 18.