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.
DSCC labeled Mark Udall as a “legacy candidate” months. Didn’t realize this was an attack, but appreciate their explanation #copolitics
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) September 24, 2014
According to TPM’s PollTracker average, Gardner currently leads Udall by 5 points, 45 percent to 40 percent.