- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

DENVER — Republican Senate hopefuls Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer shifted their campaigns into overdrive this weekend as the latest poll showed the candidates locked in a dead heat going into tomorrow’s primary.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey released Friday by the Denver Post showed Mr. Coors, scion of the Coors brewing empire, edging out his rival 45 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. But the survey also found Mr. Schaffer, a former three-term congressman, leading 46 percent to 45 percent among those who said they would definitely vote.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Ken Salazar easily was outpacing rival Mike Miles, a public-school administrator running on an anti-war platform.

The poll showed Mr. Salazar leading 67 percent to 21 percent.

The candidates are vying to replace Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, whose surprise retirement announcement in March threw Colorado into play. The once-safe Republican seat now is seen as a tossup that could determine the balance of power in the next Senate.

With Mr. Salazar expected to coast to victory tomorrow, Colorado politicos were focused on the Republican side of the aisle, where the race has boiled down to a heated contest between Mr. Coors’ financial muscle and Mr. Schaffer’s campaign experience, particularly his clout with the party’s conservative wing.

“Republicans are clearly conflicted on this,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. “The question comes down to: Can Schaffer overcome Coors’ money?”

The answer: Maybe.

“Coors is doing everything he can: late television ads, phone banks, direct mail. But sometimes money can move voters, and sometimes it can’t,” Mr. Ciruli said. “And Schaffer is running a very aggressive, very sharp race.”

Mr. Coors has raised more than $2 million, including $400,000 from his own pocket — more than twice that of the Schaffer campaign. The Coors campaign has flooded the airwaves, but the rival camp hasn’t run any commercials, although Colorado Conservative Voters, an independent committee chaired by former Sen. Bill Armstrong, has run ads on Mr. Schaffer’s behalf.

Both candidates are seen as reliably conservative, but Schaffer backers have tried to give their man the edge down the stretch by casting doubts on Mr. Coors’ right-wing bona fides. The Armstrong committee recently began running ads accusing Mr. Coors of wanting to lower the drinking age.

Mr. Coors swung back this weekend with television spots insisting that he has no “agenda” to lower the drinking age and accusing Schaffer supporters of waging a “smear campaign.”

Last week, the Christian Coalition of Colorado entered the fray by mailing out fliers saying that Mr. Coors supported the “radical homosexual agenda,” because Coors Brewing Co. offers benefits to same-sex partners.

Bob Loevy, political-science professor at Colorado College, said the focus on social issues could give Mr. Schaffer a last-minute boost at the polls, especially with the brand of die-hard conservative voters who tend to show up for primary elections.

“It will make a difference in that it adds to the image of Schaffer being more conservative,” Mr. Loevy said. “This is an example of the typical Colorado Republican primary, with both candidates trying to get to the right of each other.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide