Senator Mark Udall, D-Colo, decided against going to his own fundraiser in Denver today while President Obama was in town. Udall, seen as vulnerable by many political analysts, was elected to the Senate in what was a very weak year for republicans.
Udall says he decided to stay in Washington in order to vote on the president’s nominee to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but nobody is really buying that. Obama’s popularity has waned sharply with many recent scandals and political setbacks, and it seems more likely that Udall simply doesn’t want to associate too closely with him.
Udall’s has long been a figure in Colorado politics, having served in both the State House of Representatives, the U.S. House, and now the U.S. Senate. He faces stiff competition from Congressman Cory Gardner, who currently serves in the house as a representative from the 4th District, which covers most of rural eastern Colorado.
"If the president is in town, and the president wants to be helpful, why would anyone want to pass that up?" said Udall campaign consultant Mike Stratton. "I don't think one visit by the president is going to change anything in terms of the dynamics of the campaign."
The race for Udall’s seat is one of the more competitive ones in the nation, not surprisingly, given Colorado’s long history as a swing state. Of the last six senators from Colorado, three have been democrats, two have been republicans, and one, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, switched parties from democrat to republican while in office.
The current race has been very close according to most polls, but most show Udall with a slight lead. Udall’s greatest vulnerability has been his association with Obama on key issues, most notably the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the primary strategy of the GOP has been to tie Udall to Obama wherever they can, with his approval rating in Colorado being around 45 percent.
Still, the president is able to draw crowds and money from many diehards, which would explain why Udall has been cautious in his distancing from the president. He still needs that cold, hard cash, but not the baggage that comes with it.
“Mark is grateful for the president’s support, and had hoped to welcome him to Colorado in person, but his responsibilities to serve Colorado in the Senate come first,” spokesman Chris Harris said.