Why the millions of dollars Democrats spent in Colorado’s Republican primaries didn’t work

Jesse Paul and Sandra Fish, The Colorado Sun
Joe O'Dea, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, speaks during a primary election night watch party June 28, 2022, in Denver. O'Dea overcame millions of dollars in Democratic spending to beat state Rep. Ron Hanks.
David Zalubowski/AP Photo

Democrats have little to show for the millions of dollars they spent over the past month on TV ads, mailers and text messages seeking to influence the outcome of Colorado’s Republican primaries for U.S. Senate, governor and in the hotly contested new 8th Congressional District. 

All of the more extreme GOP candidates Democrats wanted to see win on Tuesday lost, most by significant margins.

The spending strategy has worked before in Colorado for Democrats, and it was successful for the party in Illinois, where they were able to help a far-right Republican gubernatorial candidate win his primary over a more moderate opponent backed by the GOP establishment. So what happened in Colorado this year that made all that spending and the deluge of messaging it paid for so ineffective?

“The messages were confusing to me,” said Ted Trimpa, a longtime Democratic lobbyist and strategist in Colorado who worked on a successful Democratic effort to affect the outcome of the state’s 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. “And I don’t think (the spending) took into account unaffiliateds voting in this primary. 

He added: “We’ve got to give voters credit. They’re smarter than you think. Trying to manipulate only goes so far.”

Support Local Journalism

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

Support Local Journalism