Udall Outraged After GOP Challenger Targets His Political Family Ties In Ad

Democratic congressman Mark Udall autographs posters for supporters during a rally on Tuesday, May 27, 2008, in Gunnison, Colo. Udall formally launched his U.S. Senate campaign Tuesday with a four-day tour across the... Democratic congressman Mark Udall autographs posters for supporters during a rally on Tuesday, May 27, 2008, in Gunnison, Colo. Udall formally launched his U.S. Senate campaign Tuesday with a four-day tour across the state. (AP Photo/Javier Manzano, Pool) MORE LESS
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Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is taking great offense to a new ad from his GOP challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner. The ad leads off with Gardner calling Udall “a real nice guy” before, all smiles, pointing to the Udall family’s history of political service as a reason to oust him.

While the spot sounds as superficially congenial as any political attack ad that you’re ever likely to see, Democrats are lambasting it as “disgusting” and “just low.”

“I’m going to tell you something that you’ve never heard in a political commercial,” Gardner says to start the spot, which his campaign is spending $270,000 on in its initial run. “My opponent Mark Udall is a real nice guy.”

“He’s a nice guy who will never change the Senate. He is the Senate,” he continues. “18 years in politics and he’s got two cousins who are Senators, too. Mark Udall’s dad even ran for president.”

Those are references to Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Udall (D-NM). Mark Udall’s father Mo, a congressman from Arizona who died in 1998, also sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 before losing to Jimmy Carter. Gardner concludes the ad by contrasting Udall’s history with his own.

“My dad, well, he sells tractors,” he says. “Just like my granddad, and I’m darned proud of that.”

Udall and national Democrats thunderously condemned the outwardly milquetoast ad on Wednesday.

“This race should be about who can better represent the great state of Colorado, not personal attacks on our families,” Udall said in a statement. “So, to see Congressman Gardner decide to go after my late father and members of my family in a negative ad. That’s just low.”

“Folks loved my dad, I loved my dad,” he said. “and that isn’t gonna change no matter how personal and negative Congressman Gardner’s campaign gets.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director Justin Barasky went even further, calling the ad “disgusting” in his own statement and demanding that the Gardner campaign take it down.

“It’s disgusting that Congressman Gardner would stoop as low as attacking Senator Mark Udall’s late father and it is beneath a candidate running for the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Congressman Gardner should apologize to Senator Udall and his family and pull the ad off the air.”

Gardner’s campaign pointed TPM to a statement that campaign manager Chris Hansen gave to the Denver Post.

“This is rich. For six months Sen. Udall has done nothing but wage the nastiest campaign in America and now he is upset that we are calling him a nice guy?” Hansen said. “Mark Udall has been in Washington for so long and is so partisan that he can’t even take a compliment when it comes from the other party.”

National GOP operatives mocked the Udall campaign’s outrage.

According to TPM’s PollTracker average, Gardner currently leads Udall by 5 points, 45 percent to 40 percent.

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Notable Replies

  1. What the Republican is arguing is Udall is part of America’s political elite and is a member of a family dynasty. That is a perfectly fair observation. It implies Udall doesn’t really want to do anything to shake things up in Washington and gets by only because of his connections. In this case Udall’s political family ties include Republicans as well as Democrats.

    Outrage might be the appropriate way for Udall to respond. He has to muddy Gardner’s message.

  2. There are a lot of political dynasties in the US. On both sides.
    Speaking of dynasties, maybe Gardener should stick with tractors.

  3. Avatar for docb docb says:

    Mr. Personhood slime cory is trying to put some blood in the water…he will surprised to find out this just puts more of his blood in the campaign waters!

  4. Avatar for rssrai rssrai says:

    Gardner should not have mentioned his father. That is playing below the belt.

  5. So, Gardner also criticizes the most powerful dynasty in America, the Bush family? Fat chance.

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