Hickenlooper and Gardner run low-visibility campaigns in high-stakes Senate race

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The pandemic has made for a duller marketing campaign season throughout the board — dominated by paid media and Zoom classes — however that’s very true within the all-important U.S. Senate race between Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, in keeping with a dozen political scientists and veteran Colorado politicos.
Folks with information of the campaigns say that is very a lot by design, and that the 2 males have distinct causes for enjoying this race protected. For Hickenlooper, the consensus is that he’s not taking any dangers as a result of, one, he has persistently led Gardner in polls — although some polls present the margin tightening — and, two, he’s gaffe-prone.
Gardner faces what could also be an insurmountable problem: retaining the Donald Trump base to which he way back allied himself whereas additionally attracting impartial voters who overwhelmingly disapprove of the president. It’s tough to fulfill one group with out rankling the opposite, and the upshot is continuously silence, or a paid commercial.
The 2 have appeared in zero mixed candidate occasions thus far. Solely not too long ago did the 2 campaigns conform to televised debates, to be held Oct. 9 and Oct. 13.
Wendy Schiller, professor and chair of political science at Brown College, has examined Senate contests throughout the nation, and he or she says Colorado’s stands out nationally for the way low-key and scripted it’s been.
“I feel it’s uncommon,” she mentioned, “and I don’t assume it’s emblematic of a lot of the actually contested races.”
Pueblo Democrat Sal Tempo, a former Colorado Home minority chief, served within the legislature with Gardner whereas Hickenlooper was governor, and he is aware of each males effectively. He mentioned the COVID impact on campaigns has been profound, and that the dullness of the race make sense.
“Within the case of Hickenlooper, he’s seen the polling and he is aware of that (Joe) Biden’s going to win Colorado. It’s in his marketing campaign’s finest curiosity to journey the blue wave that Colorado’s going to be in in 2020. … Once you’ve bought the wind at your again, you’re usually wonderful with folks voting alongside occasion ID,” Tempo mentioned.
“Gardner has a bit of extra of a posh drawback, as a result of he can’t journey Trump’s coattails to a win in Colorado. He’s engaged on each ends, making an attempt to solidify his assist amongst Trump voters in order that they vote all the way in which down the ticket for him, whereas concurrently making an attempt to win over extra of the independents than John Hickenlooper. He must win over extra ticket-splitters.”
Each males are identified for being expert retail politicians, at their respective bests when chatting up strangers and small teams. That’s what every has principally caught to on this marketing campaign, however the pandemic presents fewer alternatives for these sorts of interactions. Hickenlooper’s normal election method — to ask choose native reporters after which tweet after the actual fact about how he was out assembly folks — has coincidentally been Gardner’s most popular method. On his official social media accounts, Gardner routinely shares footage of himself on small-town Essential Streets or articles from small papers that he gave interviews to.
Alex McIntyre, Greeley TribuneU.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), heart, speaks with gross sales supervisor Jake Comer, left, and normal supervisor John Hunt, proper, throughout a tour of Genesis Plastics Applied sciences in Greeley Aug. 27, 2020. Genesis Plastics Applied sciences is a neighborhood plastics enterprise that not too long ago started producing face shields in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Neither candidate is adopted persistently by any semblance of a press corps, primarily as a result of their campaigns are extremely selective about how and to whom they promote marketing campaign stops, though a lot of these stops are outdoor or in different settings that enable for social distancing.
The shortage of scheduling discover additionally means fewer probabilities for “trackers” — folks assigned by the opposition to video a candidate in hopes of gathering dust — to maintain their eyes on both Gardner or Hickenlooper.
Spokespeople for Gardner declined to answer a number of interview requests for this story. Hickenlooper spoke with The Denver Put up, laughing off the suggestion that he’s operating a cautious, scripted marketing campaign.
“It’s form of like if you go outdoors when there’s been a heavy snow. Each sound is muted, it doesn’t appear as loud. And with the pandemic, it’s exhausting to get folks’s consideration,” he mentioned. “I don’t assume it’s boring. It simply doesn’t — due to COVID, it doesn’t have the identical quantity.”
The stakes couldn’t be larger on this race. Democrats must internet 4 seats to take management of the Senate, gaining the power to verify or block presidential judicial appointments together with extra management over laws.
Jason Connolly, Summit Each day Information through APFormer Colorado Governor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper speaks to potential supporters throughout a Democrat occasion meet and greet on the Dillon Amphitheater in Dillon, Colo., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.
Hickenlooper mentioned he gained’t let himself dwell on the enormity of all of it.
“There’s stress. I don’t actually really feel it,” he mentioned.
“After I stroll by King Soopers, I get folks on a regular basis saying, ‘Go get ’em, Hick! Greater than any marketing campaign I’ve been on, individuals are encouraging me wherever I’m going.”
Whereas the candidate could attest to his supporters’ enthusiasm, these interviewed by The Put up aren’t seeing it. Most Colorado political observers declined to talk on the report, however Brown professor Schiller mentioned Hickenlooper’s marketing campaign “seems like complacency. It seems like Hillary Clinton in 2016. And I feel it’s a mistake.”
“For Hickenlooper,” she added, “I feel it’s a mistake to remain so scripted, as a result of he misses the chance to journey the wave of Democratic enthusiasm in 2020. I feel enthusiasm beats every little thing else, and if Joe Biden loses this race towards Donald Trump, it’s as a result of he stayed inside too lengthy. For Gardner, he may very well be lifted again into the Senate by Trump fans who get out the door.”
Gardner’s cautious marketing campaign is sensible, Schiller mentioned.
“If he can grasp onto these Trump votes, it’s most likely a greater technique for him than it’s for Hickenlooper.”
Justin Wingerter contributed to this report

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