U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff released a television ad Friday that sent Colorado’s Democratic establishment, including the governor and attorney general, into a mad dash of denunciations that served to defend his primary opponent.
The attack ad features footage from a well-known, decade-old John Hickenlooper ad in which the then-candidate for governor showers with his clothes on. As clips of Hickenlooper in the shower play, so do recent headlines about Hickenlooper’s ethics travails and racial gaffes.
“You gotta ask yourself: Why does John Hickenlooper take so many showers?” a narrator asks. “I mean, he’ll never wash out the stain of oil and gas money. Maybe it’s the convictions for taking illegal gifts or being held in contempt. Scrub harder, Hick.”
The narrator then suggests Hickenlooper would be a risky nominee against Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican.
The ad will run statewide on television and online until the June 30 primary between the two Democrats, according to the Romanoff campaign.
“Cory Gardner, Mitch McConnell and now Andrew Romanoff are spending nearly $2 million attacking John,” said Melissa Miller, a Hickenlooper spokeswoman.
Within hours of its debut Friday morning, Colorado’s most prominent Democrats had denounced the ad. They’re coming to the defense of Hickenlooper in the intra-party fight as he attempts to avoid a disastrous upset loss amid a month of ethics violations, a contempt citation and gaffes.
“I’m disappointed that Andrew Romanoff has chosen to throw mud and attack John Hickenlooper instead of focusing on his own vision and record,” said Gov. Jared Polis, who had previously vowed to remain neutral in the race, in a statement sent from Polis’ campaign. He urged Romanoff to reconsider airing the ad.
Hickenlooper, the darling of the Democratic establishment in both Colorado and Washington D.C., was defended Friday by not only Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser but also a slew of current and former state politicians who took to Twitter.
Only one of the denunciations alleged anything in the ad is inaccurate: a lengthy statement from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat and former Hickenlooper staffer who defeated Romanoff during a bitter contest in 2010.
Bennet claimed several times in his statement that the Romanoff ad is “false.” A spokesperson for the senator says he was referring to the ad’s mention of Hickenlooper’s “convictions” for violating ethics laws. Bennet believes the term “convictions” should only be applied to criminal cases, not ethics law violations.
Hickenlooper is a famously clean campaigner — the 2010 ad that Romanoff parodies was about Hickenlooper’s hatred of attack ads — and released two ads of his own Friday. They both focused on his policy accomplishments while governor.