Justin Edmonds, Special to the Denver Post
While meeting with potential voters at a Highlands Ranch senior living community last week, Democrat Phil Weiser cracked a joke showing just how concerned he is about the name-recognition advantage of his opponent in the primary for Colorado attorney general, state Rep. Joe Salazar.
“Salazar is a well-respected name in Colorado politics,” the former University of Colorado Law School dean and Obama administration official said. “Weiser is a great last name for puns.”
To close that gap in the down-ballot 2018 race, Weiser on Monday announced a television and digital ad buy north of $500,000 that will run through the June 26 primary.
That’s a hefty sum, considering it represents more than half the money Weiser reported as having on hand heading into May. The ad blitz also could cost him if he makes it to the general election in November, when the Democratic nominee will face a well-funded Republican in 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.
The 30-second ad, expected to run statewide, shows Weiser watching Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016 — the moment he says he decided to jump into the race — and all of the ways he plans to push back against White House actions. It also features a cameo by fellow Democrat and former Colorado Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar (also a former U.S. senator and Interior secretary), who has endorsed Weiser.
Weiser, during the retirement community presentation, was also quick to draw a distinction between Ken Salazar and Joe Salazar.
“Ken tells me they’re not related,” he pointed out.
Weiser’s expensive ad buy is made possible by his strong fundraising ability — north of $1 million so far — especially compared to the limited amount raised by Joe Salazar.
Colorado Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, talks to his constituents at Delight Me Sweets March 18, 2017 in Thornton, Colorado.
Salazar had just over $7,000 of cash on hand heading into May, but is brushing off the discrepancy.
“I have one of the highest name IDs,” he said. “… He’s not raising money, per se, to have to beat me. He’s raising money because no one has any clue who he is. Meanwhile, as he is spending money hand over fist so that way people can possibly recognize his name, we have built a volunteer organization of thousands across this state.”
Salazar, who recently received an endorsement from former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, accused Weiser of being beholden to out-of-state interests with the money he is raising from beyond Colorado’s borders.
“People need to get to know who I am and that’s going to be the central challenge of my campaign,” said Weiser, who is also planning a direct mail and radio campaign to get his message out. “If people get to know me, my record, my values, my background, they can make an informed decision on who I am.”
Also on Monday, Brauchler’s campaign released a 30-second digital ad targeting unaffiliated voters.
It doesn’t mention — or really even hint — that the prosecutor and former gubernatorial candidate is Republican and portrays him as a champion and protector of Colorado’s progress.
Colorado’s current attorney general, Republican Cynthia Coffman, made a failed bid for governor.