WASHINGTON — Democrat Jay Fawcett is getting a welcome boost from national party officials who believe he may have a shot at succeeding retiring GOP Rep. Joel Hefley in one of the most conservative districts in the nation.
But the party also is pulling some of its support for Angie Paccione, who faces an uphill battle in her bid to unseat Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.
The moves come as an independent poll conducted for a Denver newspaper by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research showed Fawcett in a dead heat with his Republican opponent Doug Lamborn. Paccione trailed Musgrave by 10 points in the same poll.
Republicans are battling widespread voter dissatisfaction, trying to hold on in several races, while Democrats are trying to best position themselves to take advantage of the GOP’s woes. Both are jockeying to make the best investments as the election nears.
Fawcett’s apparent surge challenges conventional wisdom that a Democrat cannot do well in the heavily Republican 5th Congressional District, which includes Colorado Springs.
The retired Air Force officer has benefited from division in the Republican Party and his opponent’s performance in a recent debate.
After Lamborn won a contentious primary earlier this summer, Hefley announced he could not support Lamborn because he had run a “sleazy” campaign.
Then, in a recent debate, Lamborn told a member of the audience to “keep your mouth shut.” He later apologized, but the video was posted on the Internet and has drawn national attention.
This week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee elevated Fawcett’s campaign to its “Emerging Race” list, made up of candidates in races that have become unexpectedly competitive.
Fawcett’s campaign manager, Wanda James, said contributions to the campaign have skyrocketed in the last week. Campaign-finance reports for the last quarter will be posted this weekend.
“The debate definitely helped,” James said, noting that the campaign has also just begun television ads and had been working to attract Republican support.
Republicans maintain that a Democratic win in the district is still unlikely.
In the 4th Congressional District, which spans eastern Colorado, Republicans seized on Democrats’ decision to cancel about $600,000 in advertising time as proof that they had given up on Paccione, a state legislator from Fort Collins.
“Given the conservative makeup of eastern Colorado and the liberal views of Angie Paccione, it makes sense,” said NRCC spokesman Jonathan Collegio.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee still has pledged to spend about $2 million in the Denver TV market. Some will likely be spent to help Democrat Ed Perlmutter, who is running for a Denver-area congressional seat. But some could be spent on Paccione, Thompson said.