By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
BRIGHTON — Aurora City Council member Ryan Frazier has dropped out of the crowded field of GOP senatorial candidate and has set his sites on a new campaign.
After failing to raise a substantial amount of money while competing in the crowded field of Republicans vying for a chance to face either Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet or former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff in 2010, Frazier announced Thursday morning that he has instead chosen to face Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional District.
Frazier will compete only with political neophyte Brian Campbell for the Republican CD 7 nomination.
Frazier told a crowd of about 50 people at the Brighton Ford dealership, that, if elected, he will focus on improving the economy, creating good-paying jobs, getting back to responsible spending and embracing an “all of the above” energy solution to ease the country’s dependence on foreign energy sources.
“I am willing to do what is right,” Frazier said. “Not just what is Republican. And, I am willing to work with the Democrats to do what I believe is right for Colorado and for the American people.”
Frazier, who has a reputation as one of the most skilled orators in the Colorado GOP, won’t have an easy battle in his challenge against the two-term Perlmutter. The 7th Congressional District, once represented by Republican Bob Beauprez, has seen voter registration numbers trend toward the Democrats in recent years, particularly in Jefferson County, where 60 percent of the district’s population resides.
Perlmutter, viewed as a popular politician since taking office, has also been a fundraising success, banking $198,972 in the third quarter of this year, giving him a cash-on-hand total of $724,325.
Frazier, however, dismissed the notion that his CD 7 effort is a lost cause — although many Colorado politicos have suggested as much.
“I think it’s going to be a tough race. That goes without saying,” Frazier said. “But, this is one of the most competitive districts in the nation, and folks in Jefferson County ought to know that I am going to be out there more than they might want to see me.
“I am going to be out there, attending community meetings and talking with people so they can get to know me and understand what I stand for.”
Word began to spread on Colorado political blogs Wednesday that Frazier was shifting his focus from the GOP senatorial race, where former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck are considered frontrunners, to instead run in the 7th.
Political observers also suggest that even if Frazier fails to topple Perlmutter, the race will increase his name recognition for future runs. Others contend that his entrance into the 7th was a political play by Republican state Chairman Dick Wadhams to sap the resources of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Colorado, weakening its efforts to support Rep. Betsy Markey’s re-election bid in the 4th Congressional District.
Frazier said that was not the case.
“I believe the 7th presents the right path for me to serve the people of Colorado,” he told The Colorado Statesman Thursday. “Through a great deal of deliberation and consideration, I came to believe that service is what is most important — making a difference for the people. And the 7th Congressional District deserves a better choice.”
When asked if his campaign was part of a larger GOP state strategy, Frazier said “no.”
“I can tell you there is no truth to that (notion),” Frazier said. “This is a decision that I made with my family and those who are close to me. I had no conversations with Dick Wadhams or anyone else about making this move. At minimum, I gave them a heads up that it was coming.”
Although few people seem to think Frazier has much of chance, Perlmutter campaign director Julie DeWoody said the district is no easy win for any candidate.
“Ed never takes a single vote for granted, and he knows that the 7th CD is a competitive district,” DeWoody said. “He welcomes Ryan to the race and looks forward to seeing the Republican primary process play out. Ed continues to work hard representing the people of the 7th Congressional District, focusing in particular right now on reining in abuses by Wall Street and helping taxpayers, as well as passing health insurance reform that stops discrimination against people with prior illnesses.”
House Minority Leader Mike May, who introduced Frazier Thursday morning, said he views Frazier as part of the new wave of young GOP up-and-comers who have an opportunity to change the face of the party.
“I think there is much sentiment in the state and around the country that the package they bought with an all-Democratic government is not what they were expecting. And I think Ryan will be one of those messengers to bring that to Washington, D.C.,” May said.
Because Frazier was running for the U.S. Senate, his fundraising efforts to this point are transferable to his congressional campaign. Frazier finished the second quarter of 2009 with $141,000 in donations. Although it’s not a large number compared to Perlmutter’s campaign war chest, it puts him leagues ahead of Campbell, who raised only about $7,000 during the same time period.
On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission deadline for third quarter campaign numbers, Frazier told The Statesman he didn’t know how much money his campaign raised during that period. The figures are not posted immediately on the FEC Web site.