Colorado Springs Republican Eli Bremer, who beat the Colorado GOP last year in a high-profile court battle over election procedures, said he's taking a "very, very, very, very serious look" at a run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Michael Bennet.
Bremer, 43, an Air Force Academy graduate and 2008 Olympian in the modern pentathlon, told Colorado Politics that he's been encouraged after examining the prospects of a 2022 run in a state that could be more competitive than some analysts are predicting.
"Talking to people in the state and around the country, a lot of people are saying we shouldn’t write off Colorado, but we do need to write off a lot of the reasons we have lost in this state," Bremer said.
"I have talked to many Republicans in Colorado who believe it’s time Republicans engage with the electorate — pick an agreement with them instead of disagreement — and work with them collaboratively to have good governance in the state."
Bennet, seeking a third term in the Senate, has yet to draw a prominent Republican opponent. The Senate race in Colorado, which tilted heavily toward Democrats in the last two elections, ranks below at least eight other states' on nearly every battleground map.
"In Colorado, the Republicans’ credibility has been diminished in the last decade, and there are a lot of people who at the start have not necessarily believed this is a winnable state," Bremer said. "Are there enough people who believe this is a winnable state, a winnable race, before you jump into it?"
Following a trip to Washington, D.C., last week that included meeting with leading GOP lawmakers and officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Bremer said it's possible he matches the profile of nontraditional Republican candidates who have beaten the odds and won election in recent years.
It's no secret Republicans are recruiting candidates who are women, members of minority groups and veterans, many of whom haven't held elected office, he said.
"Having national conversations, people are clearly realizing the electorate has shifted and people are looking for newer, fresher faces in their federal office-holders. If we do that in Colorado, we can appeal to an electorate that has started turning its back on the more traditional Republican candidates we have run in the past," he said.
"They say that’s an interesting combination of someone who has had that political experience but is also potentially a newer, fresher face," Bremer said, pointing to his work spearheading legislation to reform the U.S. Olympic Committee and involvement in Republican circles, including a term as chairman of the El Paso County GOP and other party positions.
His background in broadcasting — he's preparing to provide commentary for his fourth Olympics as an announcer for NBC next month in Tokyo — also sets Bremer apart from many rookie candidates, he noted.
Bremer isn't a new face among potential Bennet challengers. In February, Colorado Politics was first to report that Bremer had reserved several internet domain names related to a potential Senate candidacy. At the time, he said he wasn't actively considering a campaign but was instead being cautious, to prevent a rival or domain-name squatter from grabbing the domains — all variations on EliBremerforUSSenate.com — in case he later decided to run.
In the nearly five months since, though, Bremer said, he's moved from thinking he might run to investigating whether he should.
"There’s a lot of conversations that need to be had," he said. "I take this very seriously and say, is this the right thing for Colorado, is this the right thing for me, is this the right thing for our family? Is it a winnable prospect? Are the issues I’m most passionate about and would want to represent, are those things the state of Colorado is also most interested in?
"I would say we’re taking a very, very, very, very serious look."
Bremer said he hasn't set a deadline to decide whether to run but noted he'll be engaged with the Olympics through early August.
Bremer clashed last year with county and state GOP leadership, including a high-profile dispute first reported by Colorado Politics, when then-state party chair U.S. Rep. Ken Buck ordered Bremer to comply with a state committee's ruling by putting a legislative candidate on last year's primary ballot, despite the candidate failing to qualify at a nominating assembly.
Bremer objected and took the party to court, contending that what Buck was telling him to do was against the law. The judge agreed with Bremer, and Buck eventually absolved Bremer of any wrongdoing in a document reviewed recently by Colorado Politics.
Bremer said he thinks the Colorado GOP can approach next year's election with a united front, even though rifts between the self-described grassroots and more traditional Republicans regularly erupt.
"I think Colorado Republicans are very interested in staying relevant in the state and having a seat at the table," he said, noting internal battles over "ideological purity" are nothing new in the party.
"With that said," he added, "a whole lot of people are saying we need to put aside our differences and earn our seat at the table. We need to be more like a state like Florida, which is also a very diverse state with voter registration not dissimilar to Colorado’s, but Republicans have done really well there.
"We're not a far-left state, we’re not a far-right state. Republicans share a lot of common goals with the independents in Colorado. Let’s find ways we agree with the electorate, and let’s work on things together."
Bremer's wife, Cami, is serving her first term as an El Paso County commissioner, an office that was also held by his father, attorney Duncan Bremer, in the 1990s. His uncle, diplomat L. Paul Bremer, served as administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority for 13 months following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Bremer retired with the rank of major in the Air Force Reserves. He owns several businesses and works with an Olympic sponsorship program in addition to regular work as a TV commentator.
According to Bennet's most recent FEC filing, his campaign has raised $2.7 million through the end of March and had $1.2 million on hand, including funds transferred from his unsuccessful presidential bid.
Republicans already running for Bennet's seat include Peter Yu, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 in the 2nd Congressional District; political newcomer and Army veteran Juli Henry; and Erik Aadland, a West Point graduate and Army veteran who worked in the oil and gas industry until last year and changed his registration from unaffiliated to Republican this spring.
Buck, who lost a race to Bennet in 2010, announced in January that he won't be seeking a rematch next year.