Dark horses in race for Senate try harder

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

When well-known candidates with long histories in elected office and sizeable name recognition enter a crowded primary field, the game changes — or at least that’s what most politicos believe.

But don’t tell that to Luke Korkowski or Cleve Tidwell, two dark horse candidates running against one another and four better-known candidates in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate 2010. Both men, when contacted by The Colorado Statesman on Wednesday, said the entrance of former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton into the fray isn’t going to affect their campaigns, or their hopes, one bit.

“I’ve been traveling all over the state. I drive 1,000 miles a week,” said Korkowski, a Crested Butte attorney. “I have been on the Front Range, the Western Slope and everywhere between talking with Republicans anywhere I can and doing everything I can to hit the campaign trail.”

Korkowski acknowledged Norton’s candidacy makes things more difficult for him and the other contenders. She comes with a high level of GOP support, an expansive donor list and credible name I.D., he said. But representing Colorado in the Senate should not be about just those things, he added.

“I don’t know what she brings to the primary that other candidates don’t, other than a modest amount of name I.D.,” he said. “What I have heard on the campaign trial in reference to Ms. Norton is people say she can win. Or, in other words, she can raise money. I have not heard any policies that she would support being articulated beyond what the other candidates have offered, though. Not to say that she doesn’t have those, but right now, it’s all about raising money, and that is why folks are as excited about her as they are.”

Fighting for every vote and dollar has been difficult, Korkowski admits. Not everyone has been happy to see him in the race.

“I have had people get up right in my face and yell at me that I can’t win,” he said. “But others have got right up in my face and hugged me for being in the race. It’s been a wide range of emotions and reactions that I have run into.”

Tidwell, on the other hand, played off Norton’s entrance into the race as a nonissue. Between questions to the reporter about what her first name was and whether “she is the woman who served as lieutenant governor a while back,” Tidwell said his campaign strategy will not change now that she is in the race.

“She is just not anybody that I really recall,” Tidwell said. “I wasn’t even sure what her name was. I don’t know that I agree that she is a big name candidate. But it doesn’t bother me one way or another. She falls into the mix of what we have right now — which is career politicians.”

Tidwell is a retired businessman who moved to Colorado in 2005. He resides in Denver, although he said he hasn’t been spending much time in the state capital since announcing his Senate run.

“I’m all over the state,” he said. “Since May 7, I have been to 354 places in Colorado. I am out meeting the people and out in the state. That is my game plan. I am trying to figure out what people think and what is on their mind.”

Tidwell, who missed the second-quarter Federal Election Commission fundraising report deadline, said collecting campaign donations is still not on his radar.

“We have not focused on fundraising because we have focused on the message,” Tidwell said. “This is a marathon and a long race. There is a time when we plan to turn the switch and then start bringing the money in. But right now we are just getting our message out. When it comes down to the end, we will have what we need to compete.”

Jason@coloradostatesman.com