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The GOP was struggling from the aftermath of the 2008 Democratic sweep in states such as New Hampshire and in that environment, they found and recruited now-Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who went on to win her general-election campaign by 23 points.
The difference, though, is that Ayotte was running for an open seat and Udall has the benefits of incumbency, which include name identification and fundraising.
Udall has about $1.1 million in the bank — a respectable sum going into a re-election cycle. Fundraising will not be a problem for him, especially with his party still in control of the White House and his home-state colleague Sen. Michael Bennet chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Also, DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil has statewide campaign experience in Colorado.
What may be most effective for Udall — and no doubt a factor contributing to Republican candidates’ reluctance to take him on — is the brand he has built over the past five years.
“He feels like the Colorado guy,” one Democrat said. The sentiment about Udall’s authenticity was echoed among a number of party operatives. They add that the brand is not tied to his being a member of the storied Udall family of Arizona.