Colorado: Defenders of Wildlife Going After Musgrav

Posted June 23, 2008 at 6:26pm

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is coming after Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R), who is running for re-election in the Republican-leaning 4th district against former Senate aide Betsy Markey (D).

The DWAC’s decision to target Musgrave might not be so significant if the group had not been so integral in former Rep. Richard Pombo’s (R-Calif.) demise in 2006. The group spent more than $1 million on a full-fledged independent expenditure campaign that led to Pombo’s ouster.

Ed Yoon, who organized the DWAC effort against Pombo, is also running the group’s campaign against Musgrave, which began this week with a two-week television and radio ad buy worth $200,000. The DWAC said Monday that it plans to spend at least $500,000 between now and Nov. 4 to elect Markey, and confirmed it is in the process of putting together a full-time field staff in the Northern Colorado 4th district.

“I’d expect we’d at least spend over half a million there,” DWAC spokesman Rodger Schlickeisen said.

Schlickeisen said that ousting Musgrave is the DWAC’s No. 2 priority this cycle after helping to elect Rep. Tom Udall (D) to the Senate in New Mexico. The group expects to add other races to its target list over the next few months.

In the DWAC’s television spot hitting Musgrave, the group accuses the Congresswoman of doing the bidding of oil companies to the economic detriment of her constituents.

Musgrave campaign spokesman Jason Thielman argued that 4th district voters would reject the DWAC’s message, and said Markey’s association with the group at a time when gas costs $4 a gallon would damage her electoral viability.

“I don’t think [voters] will be responsive to this message at all,” Thielman said. “They’re paying $4 a gallon for gas here. I think their support [for Markey] is the kiss of death.”

Thielman contended that Musgrave’s agenda involves supporting policies that could lower the price of gasoline. He said the Congresswoman has held three or four events over the past few months where she talked about her energy agenda at gas stations while helping her constituents fill their cars with gas.

Thielman said there were no immediate plans to go on the air and combat the DWAC’s ad campaign, saying Musgrave would continue to meet with constituents to promote her energy policies, which include support for more domestic oil drilling.

“We’re proud that we stand in contrast to an organization whose agenda is to raise the cost of energy to American families and promote radical obstructionist policies,” he said.