U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper launches the first TV ad of the Democratic primary campaign Monday with a spot highlighting Colorado's rebounding economy during his terms as governor.
Hickenlooper joins Republican incumbent Cory Gardner on the air in a race that's already attracted millions of dollars in ad reservations from party committees.
Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Hickenlooper's opponent in the June 30 primary, has yet to place his ad buy but has told supporters in fundraising emails this week that he's filmed his first ad and is determining his campaign's TV budget.
Primary ballots go in the mail to Colorado voters starting on June 8.
The 30-second Hickenlooper ad, made available to Colorado Politics in advance of its airing, depicts the former two-term governor describing the state's climb from the depths of the Great Recession to the top economy in the country three years running, by one measure.
“When I was sworn in as governor, Colorado ranked 40th in the country in job creation. But together we built the number-one economy in America," Hickenlooper says. "We did it the Colorado way, from the bottom up, and that’s what Washington needs now.”
While he doesn't mention Gardner or Romanoff in the ad, Hickenlooper takes a shot at the implementation of massive federal packages meant to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Instead of handing out loans to big corporations, they should be helping small businesses stay in business," he says. “Instead of insider deals, they should help families who are struggling. I’m John Hickenlooper. I approve this message because I know we can come back better than ever. We’re Colorado.”
A Hickenlooper campaign spokesman said the ad is part of a "significant six-figure" statewide buy on broadcast and cable channels.
The ad's production "strictly" followed state and Denver guidelines, including the candidate and production crew maintaining distances of six feet and Hickenlooper wearing a face mask between takes, Ammar Moussa, the campaign's press secretary, said.
A spokesman for the Gardner campaign dismissed Hickenlooper's ad as "hot air."
"After months of cringeworthy videos, embarrassing gaffes, and serious ethics troubles, Hickenlooper is coming off the sideline with nothing more than hot air," said Jerrod Dobkin, the Gardner's campaign communications director, in a statement.
"Meanwhile, Cory has secured life-saving personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing kits, and small business loans to help Coloradans through this crisis. Unfortunately for Hickenlooper, his campaign is only highlighting how Hickenlooper is all talk, unlike Cory Gardner, who delivers for Colorado time and time again."
Gardner's ad, which began airing May 15, uses news footage to describe the Republican's efforts to secure medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. In recent days, his campaign extended the original two-week buy into June.
The leading Democratic and Republican Senate campaign committees have reserved more than $17 million in ad time in Colorado for the summer and fall.