Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

No Sen. Bennet in This Race — It’s Just Michael

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff speaks to a small group of supporters at an apartment complex in Lakewood on Friday. To see more photos, click here.

Bennet’s most recent Senate financial disclosure report put his personal wealth at a minimum of $6.2 million.

“He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” said Dydyn, a Republican.

But before Bennet can focus on winning over voters such as Dydyn in the purple state of Colorado, he’ll have to wrap up his Aug. 10 primary against former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

With two weeks to go, Bennet appears to be well-positioned in that contest.

Poise and Polish

In many ways, Romanoff comes across as the better politician in the primary. He’s poised and polished in his stump speeches, always stays on message and maintains a confident and ever-present smile, even when discussing a June poll from the Denver Post that showed him down 17 points. In true political fashion, his nod to casual attire seems to be rolling up the sleeves of his button-down shirts.

Bennet readily acknowledges the stylistic differences.

“No one has ever accused me of being polished,” he said. “I may not be as good-looking either. I don’t know. I don’t think those are the things that are important to people.”

Romanoff served four terms in the state Legislature and was Speaker from 2005 to 2009. He left office last year because of term limits but is still widely known and respected in Colorado Democratic circles for helping to engineer the party’s takeover of the state House.

Romanoff made his interest in the Senate seat clear when Salazar was tapped as Interior secretary, and he was seen by many insiders as the person who would have had the party machine at his disposal if he had been appointed.

Eighteen months later, Romanoff’s biggest strength continues to be his connections in state party circles.

State Rep. Andy Kerr (D), who served with Romanoff in the state House, explained why he’s backing Romanoff against Bennet during a town hall event Friday in Lakewood.

Romanoff “has been in every county in this state long before he was running for this seat. He’s eaten the rubber-chicken dinners in their town halls and been at their fundraisers,” Kerr said. “Andrew is the best person to hold this seat because people all over the state know him and respect him.”

Colorado political insiders tend to agree that Romanoff will do better if turnout in the primary is relatively light because he is more familiar with hard-core party activists. That fact was confirmed by Romanoff’s 20-point lead over Bennet in a poll of the 3,500 delegates at the state party convention in May.

Money Is the Mother’s Milk

But Romanoff’s weaknesses are clear. He simply can’t compete with Bennet when it comes to fundraising.

According to June 30 Federal Election Commission reports, Bennet had raised nearly $7.5 million and spent just less than $5 million on his campaign. Romanoff had raised about $1.6 million and spent less than $1.2 million.

Romanoff supporters know what they are up against on the fundraising front. One supporter was selling cookies and brownies for a dollar at Kerr’s town hall to try to close the gap.

This week, Romanoff loaned his campaign an additional $325,000. He sold his house and cashed out part of his savings to do it.

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