• After initially supporting incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.), through the first quarter of this year, oil and natural gas companies have since overwhelmingly supported his challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), over Mr. Udall.

    U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.) accepts his party’s nomination to run for re-election to his seat in the November 2014 general election during the Colorado Democratic Party’s State Assembly in Denver in April.

    Associated Press

    Mr. Udall was among this election cycle’s top recipients of oil and gas money through March, having received $201,550 from the sector, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics up to March. At that time,  Mr. Gardner, who announced at the end of February his intent to challenge Mr. Udall after getting three other GOP candidates to bow out of a potentially bruising Republican primary, had received just $79,300 from the oil and gas industry for his House re-election bid.

    Since Mr. Gardner entered the Senate race, the oil and gas industry has been pouring money into Mr. Gardner’s campaign. Between the first and second quarters, the industry gave $223,600 to Mr. Gardner and just $41,460 to Mr. Udall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Among the companies opting to back Mr. Gardner over Mr. Udall is Houston-based Noble Energy NBL -2.86%, which has one of the biggest oil and gas footprints in Colorado. The company’s PAC contributed $2,500 to Mr. Udall’s campaign in June 2013, according to FEC data. Though the company’s PAC hasn’t contributed to Mr. Gardner’s campaign, according to FEC data, employees for the company have contributed a total of $12,300 to Mr. Gardner, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This includes $2,700 its CEO, Charles Davidson, contributed on April 15, and $500 its senior vice president overseeing Colorado, Ted Brown, gave on March 31, according to the FEC. Mr. Brown gave $1,000 to Mr. Udall in June 2013, and Mr. Davidson has not donated to his campaign.

    In overall fundraising, Mr. Udall continues to beat Mr. Gardner, though the gap is narrowing. This race is expected to be one of the closest and most important matchups that could help determine which party controls the Senate next year. A Quinnipiac University Poll released last week shows Mr. Gardner up by just two points (within the margin of error), and another NBC/Marist poll released earlier last week showed Mr. Udall ahead by seven points.

    Anadarko Petroleum, another company with a big footprint in Colorado, also overwhelmingly supports Mr. Gardner, with $36,000 total contributions—including PAC and employees—compared to just $8,000 to Mr. Udall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The PAC of the Woodlands, Texas-based company has contributed a total of $3,500 to Mr. Udall’s campaign, but that contribution came in the spring of 2013, well before Mr. Gardner signaled his intent to join the race. The company’s PAC has also not contributed to Mr. Gardner’s campaign since last spring, according to the FEC. But its CEO, R.A. Walker, has contributed $4,000 to Mr. Gardner’s campaign on Feb. 20, just days before Mr. Gardner announced his intent to run. He has not donated to Mr. Udall’s campaign, according to FEC data.

    Energy is emerging has a key wedge issue. Fueled by fracking, natural gas production in Colorado has increased by 21% and oil production has more than doubled over the past several years. Much of this new production has occurred along the state’s heavily populated Front Range area north of Denver, causing consternation among residents and provoking some cities to ban the practice.

    On top of the Senate race, Colorado voters are also expected to vote this November on a ballot initiative—backed by Rep. Jared Polis (D., Colo.)—that would restrict fracking in populated areas. Last week, Mr. Udall came out in firm opposition to addressing residents’ concerns about fracking through a ballot initiative. Mr. Gardner and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have been seizing on the issue and accusing Mr. Udall of flip-flopping.


    Posted by Dana West @ 8:01 am for Candidates, Colorado politics, Energy, National politics |

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