The Washington Times - May 31, 2012, 03:46PM

DENVER — Joe Coors still isn’t a beer, but now he’s broadening his message with a hefty television ad buy in the Denver media market.

The Republican Mr. Coors, who’s challenging Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, went on the air this week with a positive television ad that builds on his memorable “I’m not a beer” radio ads.

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“I know what you’re thinking,” Mr. Coors says as he stands next to a 6-foot picture of a beer. “But I’m not that.”

The Coors campaign has sunk $400,000 into the televised spots, which are the earliest nonpresidential campaign ads in the Denver market. The commercials emphasize Mr. Coors’ experience in the private sector as a founder of CoorsTek, the largest technical ceramics manufacturing plant in the world.

The ad ends with Mr. Coors repeating the line that’s becoming the Colorado catch phrase of the 2012 race. “I’m Joe Coors. I’m not a beer. And I approved this message,” he says.

The Perlmutter campaign had no comment on the ads, which don’t mention the three-term Democrat. Mr. Perlmutter, who easily won his 2010 re-election campaign, has yet to air political ads, although the last campaign fundraising report showed him with $810,000 cash on hand, nearly three times as much as the Coors campaign.

Still, nobody doubts Mr. Coors’ ability to run a competitive race. The great-grandson of Coors Brewing Co. founder Adolph Coors, Joe Coors enjoys nearly universal name recognition in Colorado and a personal fortune estimated by the Denver Post at at least $132.8 million.

Making his first bid for public office, Mr. Coors recently was bumped to the level of “Contender” on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” list.

The blog Colorado Peak Politics said the Coors ad campaign compares favorably to the now-legendary spots run by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in his past campaigns.

“You could even call it Hickenlooper-esque in its quirkiness and positive tone,” the blog said.