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Colorado Newspapers Split On Senate Race Endorsements

With Colorado voters scheduled to receive mail ballots in the coming days, two of Colorado’s largest newspapers are split on their endorsements of the U.S. Senate candidates.

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has hammered challenger Republican Rep. Cory Gardner all campaign season on his past support of “personhood” initiatives that would ban abortion and, critics argue, some forms of birth control. Although Gardner has since changed his mind about supporting such initiatives at the state level, he is still the co-sponsor of a largely identical bill in Congress.

The Colorado Springs Gazette has tired of the attacks and characterized Udall’s obsession with the issue as “a bizarre narrative about social issues resolved decades ago.”

“While Udall runs a circa 1972 social-issues-only campaign, Gardner talks about a ‘Four Corners Plan’ to grow the economy, achieve energy independence, improve education and protect the environment,” the paper wrote in a Sunday editorial endorsing Gardner.

While respectful of Udall, and acknowledging his efforts to stem government spying on U.S. citizens, the Gazette faults him for supporting the Affordable Care Act, for voting in virtual lockstep with President Obama’s policies and for “aid[ing] Obama in blocking the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The paper also takes a swipe at Udall on foreign policy.

“Udall sides with, and practically recites as his own, the president’s lead-from-behind policy toward ISIS,” the paper wrote.

But the editorial leads with Udall’s relentless campaigning on social issues.

“Americans aren’t lacking access to affordable contraceptives and abortions,” the paper noted. “And Gardner, hoping to reduce abortions, wants more over-the-counter birth control.”

“What’s not so abundant are upward-mobility jobs, high wages and meaningful opportunities for young generations of men and women, boys and girls.”

Taking the opposite tack, the Durango Herald endorsed Udall precisely because of Gardner’s past and present positions on abortion and personhood bills.

“Gardner’s dogged support for personhood says one of two things about him,” the paper wrote in an editorial published on Saturday. “Either his position on women’s rights is far out of the Colorado mainstream or the congressman will say anything for a vote.”

“The fact is … people espouse extreme ideas, such as ‘personhood,’ either because they are ideologically committed or because they are deeply cynical. Colorado needs neither,” the Herald concluded.

The Herald endorsed Udall because he is consistent and middle-of-the-road, but not afraid to reach across the aisle when circumstances dictate, the paper wrote.

While the Herald conceded that there is “more to talk about than reproductive rights” — while also admitting that Udall’s attacks on the issue are becoming “repetitive” — it concluded that Gardner “offers little beyond reflexive opposition to government in general and Obamacare in particular.”

The state’s largest newspaper, the Denver Post, has not yet endorsed a Senate candidate, but endorsed incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for a second term.

Ballots will be mailed to registered voters beginning next week.

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