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Democrat Adam Frisch is running TV ads in 3rd Congressional District GOP primary

Strategy an apparent attempt to shape race and give himself a better chance to win in November
Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd (left), a Republican, and former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch (right), a Democrat. Frisch is running ads in the Republican primary in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District attacking Hurd in an apparent attempt to help one of his opponents win.

Democrat Adam Frisch is spending at least $100,000 to air a TV ad in the Republican primary in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in an apparent attempt to shape the race and give himself a better chance to win in November.

The ad attacks Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd for “ducking Republican debates” and for refusing to say who he voted for in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, as well as for being the beneficiary of corporate super PAC money.

It’s a clear call to GOP primary voters in the Republican-leaning 3rd District to back a different candidate in the six-way race – someone Frisch believes will be easier to beat in November. Someone like former state Rep. Ron Hanks, an election denier who attended Donald Trump’s rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C., that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“As far as I’m concerned, the general election has started,” Adam Frisch’s campaign manager Camilo Vilaseca said in a written statement to The Colorado Sun on Tuesday that highlighted how Hanks has been endorsed by the Colorado GOP and reiterated the attacks on Hurd that are in the TV ad.

The strategy is risky.

The 3rd District is so favorable to Republicans that it could backfire for Democrats and result in Hanks being elected to Congress as he is seen as Hurd’s top opponent.

Frisch lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert by 546 votes in the 3rd District in 2022. But without Boebert in the race this time around – she moved to the 4th Congressional District based on the other side of the state to improve her reelection chances – it’s not clear the former Aspen city councilman can win.

Voters in the 3rd District haven’t sent a Democrat to Congress since 2008, and the district’s boundaries have been redrawn twice since then to make it more favorable to Republicans.

But Frisch has a major war chest – $3.8 million as of June 5, money he raised from across the country by appealing to Democratic hatred of Boebert – and it may be a better investment to shape the Republican primary now than to have to battle a formidable candidate like Hurd in November.

The Frisch ads run through primary Election Day on June 25.

The Hurd campaign blasted Frisch’s tactics Tuesday in a written statement.

“A shock to no one, Adam and the Democrats are attacking Jeff because they know he is the only Republican who can beat Frisch and keep the seat red,” the Hurd campaign statement said. “Voters in western and southern Colorado won’t be duped.”

The Frisch ad also comes as the Democratic super PAC Rocky Mountain Values has already spent about $400,000 on TV and radio spots, as well as mailers and newspaper ads, elevating Hank’s profile in the district and attacking Hurd. The Rocky Mountain Values PAC ads, which were first reported by The Sun, have been on the air since the beginning of the month.

Then-U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks speaks during the GOP Assembly at the World Arena on April 9, 2022, in Colorado Springs. (Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun file)

Republicans are clearly worried that the Democratic strategy to help Hanks may work.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a group tied to U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, is starting to air TV and radio ads in the 3rd District attacking Hanks for benefiting from the Rocky Mountain Values PAC spending and labeling him as a “liberal” who isn’t loyal enough to Trump. Hanks was one of the most conservative members of the Legislature when he was a state representative and he’s promising to be a top Trump ally in Congress should he win in the 3rd District.

The CLF has spent about $325,000 to air its ads, according to the media tracking company AdImpact.

“Why are Democrat mega donors spending so much to prop up Ron Hanks’ campaign? Republicans, beware,” said Courtney Parella, communications director for the CLF.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the U.S. House Republican campaign arm, meanwhile, attacked Frisch for his TV ad campaign.

“Adam Frisch’s gutter-politics play reveals one thing: He can’t win unless he plays dirty,” said Delanie Bomar, a regional spokeswoman for the group. “Republicans must stand united to denounce Democrats’ pathetic primary meddling – because Republicans should pick our party’s nominee, not Democrats.”

Hurd has been endorsed by a list of big-name Colorado Republicans and has the financial backing of a major national conservative group, Americans For Prosperity Action. He is seen as a leading contender in the crowded primary.

Carbondale investor Russ Andrews, another Republican primary candidate in the 3rd District, is also airing a TV ad attacking Hurd, calling him an “Ivy League lawyer” who’s disloyal to Trump. Andrews has spent at least $70,000 to air the ads.

Colorado Sun staff writer Sandra Fish contributed to this report.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.