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Bennet Gets GOP Challenger After Iran Deal Decision

Bennet became the 38th Senate Democrat to back the Iran deal Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Robert Blaha is likely to launch a challenge to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet in the next couple of days, he told CQ Roll Call Friday.  

When told that Bennet became the 38th Senate Democrat to back the Iran deal Friday morning, Blaha said, "OK, well then, I will be making an announcement based on his announcement."  

In a public statement  on his Facebook page Thursday, Blaha promised to challenge the two-term Democrat if he came out in support of the agreement.  

"I think it may be the most compelling piece of federal legislation that we’ve had to struggle with and look at in decades," Blaha said of the Iran deal Friday. Colorado Republicans have had difficulty finding someone to challenge Bennet amid internal squabbles in the state party . Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who finished prosecuting the high-profile trial of Aurora movie theater gunman James Holmes earlier this summer, is openly considering a bid  but has not made a decision.  

Blaha, president of Human Capital Associates, lost a 2012 GOP primary to 5th District Rep. Doug Lamborn.  

He told CQ Roll Call that he has spoken with a "number of different groups" in Washington, D.C., about running for Senate and has made several trips to the nation's capital lately.  

"I don't want to put a stake in the ground," he said, when asked how much money it would require to challenge Bennet, who had more than $4 million in the bank at the end of the second quarter. But he added that any candidate would have to "raise and/or invest several million dollars to even be competitive." He emphasized, though, that he would not be an entirely self-funded candidate.  

"When I make a decision to run, I will make an investment, just like any business I’ve made investments in before," Blaha said. "But I got a very good learning in 2012. And that is self-funding can go a certain amount of distance, but I want every single person to write a check." The benefits of fundraising, he said, are twofold: "One, you get some money. And two, that person will tell between three and six people about you as a candidate." While most eyes in Colorado are trained on Brauchler, state Sen. Tim Neville is going on a "listening tour" to assess support for his potential candidacy, and 3rd District Rep. Scott Tipton has not ruled out making a bid. Politico reported earlier this week that Doug Robinson, a nephew of Mitt Romney, who chaired his 2012 Colorado campaign, is also considering getting in the race.  

Earlier this year, Greg Lopez, the former director of the Small Business Administration in Colorado, announced that he would run , but he has not filed with the FEC. El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn declared his candidacy in January.  

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