Along with the first hints of autumn, the air in Colorado is thick with mud this week as national campaign committees unleash a pair of attack ads aimed at the other parties' nominees in the state's new congressional district.
"Too extreme for Colorado," says the narrator of one ad, while the other describes a "radical politician" with an "extreme agenda."
It must be election season.
The Democrats went up first on Tuesday with a TV ad targeting state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, the Brighton Republican running in the battleground 8th Congressional District, which covers parts of Adams and Weld counties north of the Denver metro area.
On Wednesday, a GOP group launched a TV ad featuring state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, the Thornton Democrat hoping to represent the evenly divided seat, called the linchpin to control of the U.S. House after the November election by some election forecasters.
The ads are the first volleys in multi-million dollar media campaigns set to inundate viewers on the northern Front Range with ad reservations by congressional campaign committees on both sides topping $15 million. At this point, the national parties' focus appears to be on the 8th CD, which is shaping up to be the most hotly contested congressional race in the state.
Their voices dripping with disdain, the ads' narrators describe the opposition party's candidate as out of step with Colorado, citing a handful of positions their sponsors hope repel enough voters to swing the district's electorate their way.
"Around here, we like our sports extreme. Not our politicians," says the narrator of the ad released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure arm.
Over footage of bull-riders and mountain bikers, the ad rips Kirkmeyer for pushing a "far-right agenda," including opposition to same-sex marriage, rejection of the science behind climate change and support for a ban on abortion without exception.
Throughout the 30-second ad, figures — including Kirkmeyer — transform into particles and then disappear, in an effect reminiscent of the "Blip," when characters vanished at the end of the blockbuster Marvel movie "Avengers: Infinity War," after super-villain Thanos snapped his fingers.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, takes a more conventional approach. Using high-contrast, grainy footage to make Caraveo look sinister, the 30-second ad features a narrator slamming the Democrat for supporting restrictions on the oil and gas industry and for pushing a gas tax hike and the elimination of Taxpayer Bill of Rights refunds on the state level — all because she's "focused on her partisan agenda instead of serving you."
The attack ads join a spot from Caraveo launched last week that depicts the pediatrician examining long-time patients as she describes her background and policy achievements. Kirkmeyer is slated to hit airwaves later this week, according to TV ad reservation reports.
Both campaigns said the outside groups' ads distort their candidates' records in an attempt to distract voters from the real issues.
“Barbara Kirkmeyer’s Washington allies are distorting Dr. Caraveo’s record to distract from Kirkmeyer’s 30-year political career spent pushing an extreme agenda that will hurt Colorado families," Caraveo campaign spokeswoman Elana Schrager told Colorado Politics in a text message.
"Dr. Caraveo has worked with both parties to lower taxes for working families, and to fight for the health of our children while Kirkmeyer voted no and chose to protect her special interest donors instead."
Said Kirkmeyer: "Same old, same old from the Democrats: distort and attack my record in order to change the subject away from Yadira Caraveo’s reckless record of supporting Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, raising taxes and the cost of living, and putting dangerous, repeat criminals and fentanyl dealers back on the street. Washington, D.C. Democrats are as out of touch as Yadira Caraveo is."
Expect a lot more mud in coming weeks.
The Republican super PAC's ad is part of a a $4.4 million ad reservation the committee announced this spring in the Denver market, matching an identical $4.4 million in fall TV bookings by its counterpart, the House Majority PAC.
The DCCC's independent expenditure outfit said last month that it's spending $1.6 million on House races in Colorado, while the National Republican Congressional Committee said last week that it intends to pour $2.6 million into the 8th CD race.
All that outside spending is on top of the $2.2 million in TV ad time Caraveo has reserved. Kirkmeyer, who survived an expensive, four-way primary in late June, has yet to announce how much she intends to spend on ads this fall.
Ballots start going out to most Colorado voters in just over four weeks and are due back to county clerks by Nov. 8.