GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Colorado Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, who represents Garfield County and six other counties in the Colorado Legislature, will try to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., in 2014, Baumgardner acknowledged on Monday.
A spokesman for Udall said on Monday that the senator is not particularly worried about the challenge, and that Udall is concentrating on his job in the Senate rather than on politics.
At least one other Colorado Republican, State Rep. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, also has said he plans to run against Udall.
“Yes,” Baumgardner said in response to a reporter’s question about his plans. “The official announcement was not supposed to be until Friday.”
But Baumgardner had made a remark on Sunday to Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels, who broke the news on Monday on the Denver Post blog, The Spot.
Remarking somewhat caustically about “those big Denver papers needing to get out in front of each other,” Baumgardner admitted to being inundated with telephone calls from news organizations since the blog went public.
But, he said, he still plans to make his formal announcement from Maverick’s Grille in Granby, reputed to be a political hangout for area residents.
Baumgardner is in his first term in the state Senate, serving Senate District 8, having defeated incumbent Sen. Jean White in the 2012 primary by a margin of 58 percent, and then downed Breckenridge Democrat Emily Tracy in the general election by a margin of 51 percent to 44 percent.
Prior to that, Baumgardner had served two terms, or four years, in the state House of Representatives.
Udall’s expected bid for re-election was unopposed at the beginning of July, although Republican strategists had been discussing the situation since the middle of 2012.
In May, when Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, backed away from challenging Udall, Baumgardner was mentioned in a Fox 31 news analysis at the bottom of a list of other potential challengers.
But Republican planners have been eyeing Udall as vulnerable for some time.
“Mark Udall looks very vulnerable on paper, but we’re going to need the right kind of Colorado Republican to face him, i.e., a libertarian — and a Latino-friendly one,” wrote political commentator Moe Lane in the blog, redstate.com, on Nov. 17, 2012, when he handicapped what he termed “at-risk Democratic Senators in 2014.”
Udall’s public relations chief, Mike Saccone, told the Post Independent on Monday that Baumgardner’s announcement has not concerned Saccone’s boss.
“Sen. Udall right now is focused on doing the job he was elected to do for the people of Colorado,” said Saccone, mentioning various national issues such as finding ways to encourage job growth, passing comprehensive immigration reform and others.
Although Baumgardner was the first Republican in recent days to make his challenge public at this point, on Monday another Republican state representative, Rep. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, also tossed his hat into the ring.
Hill, according to a story in the Colorado Springs Gazette, confirmed on Monday he would be challenging Udall. Hill has served one term in the state House.
The Gazette mentioned another possible challenger for Udall’s Senate seat — State Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, although Stephens has yet to make an announcement.