Six years later and little has changed in the race for one of Colorado’s U.S. Senate seats.
In a race similar and almost reminiscent of the 1996 campaign, Republican Senator Wayne Allard and the challenging Democratic candidate Tom Strickland, are once again competing for the seat.
The outcome of the 1996 election sent Allard to Washington, D.C. Now that his term is almost over, Strickland and Allard find themselves campaigning against one another again.
Accusations coming from both camps range from candidate involvement with the troubles Qwest has faced over the past year, which candidate has better relations with environmental issues and whether or not they support the military based on their stance on missile defense.
“It is unfortunate that (Strickland) and the Democratic party had to launch their negative campaign,” said Dick Wadhams, Allard’s campaign manager. “We had to respond, to leave these charges unchallenged could have taken from Allard’s votes.”
On Sept. 22, the two candidates held a forum on NBC’s nationally broadcasted show, Meet the Press. Both candidates spoke out against the other’s campaign ads-seen both on Coloradans’ televisions and radios.
“The people watching this show right now in Colorado, they’re not interested in the give-and-take here about who said what or who did what,” said Strickland in response to the competitive ads sponsored by both camps, during Meet the Press.
Allard was also given a chance to comment on the ads.
“Now, you know, I’m upset about these negative ads. I wish we could have shorter campaigns and positive campaigns,” Allard said. “I felt that in a bipartisan way, I should support (Strickland, after former President Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Attorney for Colorado). Now, I’m no longer Mr. Nice Guy.”
Strickland and Allard both agreed action against Iraq is necessary but disagreed on what to do with social security. Allard was is in favor of giving people the option of investing social security in the stock market. Strickland said investing social security in the stocks would be too risky given the recent fall of the market and corporate scandals.
“I believe that (Meet the Press) went great (for Allard),” Wadhams said. “He was very specific to his responses, while Strickland was evasive.”
The latest attack from the Allard camp towards Strickland included an attack stating Strickland is against the military by speaking out against missile defense. Brian Hardwick, campaign manager for Strickland, could not be contacted by the Collegian despite several attempts. However, he recently told The Denver Post missile defense has not been proven to work yet.
“Clearly issues of national security are more prominent after Sept. 11,” Hardwick said. “It defies common sense to put the cart before the horse, to say that you’re for deployment when we don’t even know that we have a system yet that works.”
Dick Wadhams, Allard’s campaign manager, countered by saying, “Strickland’s trying to quibble and parse words again. The bottom line is either you’re for pursuing national defense or you’re against it.”
Each camp has even gone so far as to recently attack the other on how well they cheer and support the Denver Broncos, after their appearance on Meet the Press. Guests on the show usually bring a jersey of their home team when that team plays the host, Tim Russert’s favorite team, the Buffalo Bills. Allard waved a Brian Greise jersey-Strickland invited Russert to his house to watch the Broncos play in the Super Bowl.
According to Russert, Allard and Strickland’s races are “the closest in the nation.” And, like many congressional seats being competed over in Colorado, one that could very well decide the balance of power in the U.S. Congress.
A poll conducted by MSNBC on Sept. 17-18 shows Allard with 41.6 percent of Colorado’s vote while Strickland has 41.5 (with a 4.5 margin of error). Reportedly, this poll included responses from 500 Coloradans likely to vote in November.
Other candidates for the senate seat include Libertarian Rick Stanley and Douglas “Dayhorse” Campbell of the American Constitutional Party.