Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts NFL star claims he was victim of 'abusive conduct' by Las Vegas police Gardner throws support behind DREAM Act MORE (D-Colo.) said Thursday he was aware the White House had urged Andrew Romanoff not to challenge him in a primary.

Bennet told The Hill he knew beforehand that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina had reached out to Romanoff in hopes of avoiding a primary challenge to the incumbent Bennet.

“Yeah, I was aware,” Bennet said. “Right.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Bennet said he didn’t remember specifically how he was made aware of the contact, but pointed to a September 2009 Denver Post article about Messina’s contact with Romanoff. An aide clarified that Bennet knew before the article’s publication of the White House contacting Romanoff.

Romanoff, a former state House speaker, attracted headlines recently by stating he was contacted by Messina last September with various job offers. Romanoff said Messina made it clear he could not guarantee the appointments, and Romanoff said he rejected the overture.

The White House has confirmed the contact but denies any jobs were offered. Media reports suggest three specific positions were mentioned: a Central-American administrative post, the directorship of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the head position at the Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID.

Bennet and Romanoff face off Aug. 10 for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat.

The White House also contacted Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak (D) in hopes of avoiding a primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).

At the request of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, former President Bill ClintonBill ClintonGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Lawmakers, pick up the ball on health care and reform Medicaid The art of the small deal MORE called Sestak in an attempt to clear the field for Specter.

An official administration document released in late May on the communication stated that nothing inappropriate was discussed, and only uncompensated positions on advisory boards were at issue. Republicans have called for the White House to release more information about the offers to Sestak.

Specter spokeswoman Kate Kelly said Specter did not know about the White House's offers to Sestak.

“It’s an old story. It applies to presidents in all administrations,” Durbin told The Hill. “I don’t find it surprising, and I certainly don’t think there’s anything unusual about it.”

The White House played a major role in clearing the primary field for Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (D-N.Y.) this cycle, though the administration and Democrats who were considering challenging Gillibrand say no job offers were made.