DENVER (AP) – A national organization affiliated with billionaire brothers known as power players in conservative politics has turned its attention to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall with a political attack ad linking the Democrat to the federal health care overhaul, saying “Obamacare” was “truly harming real Coloradans.”
The political group Americans for Prosperity, backed by Charles and David Koch, announced the nearly $1 million campaign in a statement Monday. The ads will air for the next three weeks in the Denver and Colorado Springs markets, Colorado’s main population centers.
Nationally, Republicans need to gain a net of six seats to win control of the Senate in the November elections.
In a response Monday, Udall’s campaign office said nothing about the Affordable Care Act, which the senator has championed and pledged to make work. Instead, the statement accused the Kansas-based Koch (pronounced “Coke”) brothers of pouring “tainted money” into the Colorado race.
The Koch brothers, who have a chemical and textile empire, have become more prominent politically since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allows unlimited corporate spending on campaigns. They helped found Americans for Prosperity, which reported spending $122 million on elections in 2012.
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, in an interview questioned the portrayal of the Affordable Care Act. “The more people learn about the benefits, it’s becoming more and more popular,” he said.
Udall’s statement pushing back against Americans for Prosperity also went after Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who has emerged as a political rival. Americans for Prosperity and Gardner opposed disaster relief legislation passed before last year’s floods in Colorado and want to “gut social security benefits and end Medicare as we know it,” the statement said.
Gardner’s campaign, in response to Udall’s accusations, said that instead of opposing flood relief, the congressman worked with Udall to help those affected.
“While Congressman Gardner has looked proudly at the relief their work has brought to the state, Senator Udall seems to think it is a political weapon,” Alex Siciliano, a spokesman for the Gardner campaign, said in an email.
Levi Russell, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, said Udall was “hitting the panic button and attacking AFP to distract from his own record” and connection to the unpopular health care law.
Owen Loftus, spokesman for the Colorado Republican Committee, said in an interview Monday that health care was “going to be something we’re going to be bringing up as much as we can.”
According to Quinnipiac University Poll results released last month, 60 percent of Coloradans disliked the health care law.
That same poll found that voters approved of Udall 45 percent to 42 percent, but were evenly divided on whether he should be re-elected.
Udall was elected to the Senate in 2008 after serving five terms as a U.S. representative.
– By DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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