WHY IT MATTERS
At the center of U.S. military space activities in Colorado, a subcommittee chairman on the Senate Armed Services Committee and a vocal progressive national security voice defends his seat with large contributions from the defense industry.
In Colorado, Mark Udall appeared to be among the safer Democrats in the 2014 election cycle. But with a credible opponent and a tough political environment for Democrats nationwide, Udall’s race has joined the list of close contests that could shake up the composition of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). Udall currently serves as chairman of the SASC Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which oversees issues including nuclear weapons and missile defense.
After several recent Democratic victories, Colorado seems to be swinging back rightward. Republicans narrowly missed claiming the Senate seat of Michael Bennet in 2010, mostly as a result of implosions in the nomination process for both governor and Senate. In 2013, Republicans successfully recalled two Democratic state senators and forced the resignation of a third.
When Mark Udall began this cycle, most analysts thought that he was invulnerable. But his approval ratings have sunk along with the president’s. Compounding matters, Rep. Cory Gardner, a rising star in the state Republican Party, changed his mind and opted to challenge Udall in the general election. Udall had hoped to face Bennet’s 2010 opponent, Ken Buck, but now will draw a top tier challenger. Udall leads most polls, but narrowly. And he’s still well under 50 percent. This race has become an unexpected tossup.