Colorado Senate candidates out in full force |

Colorado Senate candidates out in full force

JOHNSTOWN, Colorado ” The cinnamon rolls at Johnson’s Corner restaurant and truck stop are big ” really big. So were the hopes of Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer and his supporters Saturday as they met while eating their nearly 2-pound, gooey confections.

“I looked at last night’s numbers and this is a dead-even race,” Schaffer said of his campaign’s polling.

Recent polls have shown Democrat Mark Udall with everything from a double-digit lead to an edge of four percentage points, the survey’s margin of error.

Schaffer, talking to a crowd of about 50 in a meeting room at the truck stop off Interstate 25 in northern Colorado, said his polling showed about 8 percent of the people still hadn’t decided how to vote in the Senate race on Tuesday.

“I think these polls come and go and the only poll that matters is on Nov. 4,” said Tara Trujillo, Udall’s spokeswoman. “I think Coloradans know that Mark Udall stands with them.”

Udall, a congressman since 1997, spent more than a week on the road, crisscrossing the state and venturing into GOP strongholds on the Western Slope and eastern plains.

Over the weekend, both candidates for Colorado’s open Senate seat ranged throughout the mix of rural and urban communities that stretch more than 100 miles along the east face of the Rockies. The seat, being vacated by two-term Republican Wayne Allard, would be a critical prize as the Democrats try to boost their majority in the Senate.

But Schaffer and his supporters were far from conceding defeat Saturday despite a tough political climate for Republicans because of President Bush’s low approval ratings and an ailing economy.

Allard, who milled through the restaurant with Schaffer, talking to patrons, said during the rally for supporters that polls showed him losing right before he won his two Senate races.

“There are a lot of polls being run showing Republicans gaining in support,” Allard said.

Schaffer has cast himself as a reformer who kept his promises to fight for lower taxes and a balanced budget when he served in the U.S. House from 1997 to 2003. He was part of the wave of conservative Republicans who aligned themselves with Newt Gingrich and his Contract With America.

Schaffer honored his term-limit pledge, even though, as he has said, Bush asked him to run again.

Udall stands for higher taxes and bureaucracy while he stands for lower taxes and “economic freedom,” Schaffer told the crowd. He has said he will add to the checks and balance in Congress, especially if Democrat Barack Obama wins the presidency.

But Udall, portrayed in attack ads as a liberal in lock-step with Democratic congressional leaders, has said Schaffer is out of step with Coloradans, who want less partisan bickering and more cooperation on solutions to the country’s many challenges.

“A promise I’ve made is that I’ll work every single day in the U.S. Senate to find partners, whether they be Democrats or Republicans, to move our country forward,” Udall said during a debate last week with Schaffer.

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