Chamber gives early backing to Norton in Colorado

After a couple of high-profile losses, the Chamber of Commerce has made an early endorsement in the contested Colorado Senate Republican primary.

On Monday the business group announced its support for former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R) to win the Colorado Senate primary. She's facing stiff competition for the GOP nomination from Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck, whom recent polls have shown with a double-digit lead. The primary is Aug. 10.

"Today we're announcing our endorsement, and we're not going to get into a discussion — it would be inappropriate — of what independent steps that we will take to support our endorsement,” Thomas Donohue, the Chamber's president, said on a conference call with reporters. "If all I was going to do was going to play in the general election — not do anything, not say anything, not use our grassroots, not spend money — I'd have waited until August" to make the endorsement.

Several outside groups have run TV ads in support of Buck, which may have contributed to his rise in the polls.

The Chamber previously backed several losing Republican candidates, including Kentucky Senate candidate Trey Grayson (R) and Utah Republican Tim Bridgewater, but it did so later in the primary process.
 
In Grayson's case, the Chamber endorsed only a week before the May 18 primary and the group did not run ads in support of the secretary of state in Kentucky. In the Bridgewater race, the group made the announcement on the Friday before the June 22 vote, giving Bridgewater little time to translate the backing into tangible results.
 
Norton got their endorsement more than a month before her primary.

"We’ll certainly be aggressive in highlighting Norton's support of the state’s businesses but it's too early to speculate where we'll be with ads," Chamber spokesman J.P. Fielder said in an e-mail.
 
In 2008, 213 of the 265 Chamber-endorsed candidates were elected, according to the group's statistics.
 
Norton was quick to point out that conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is backing Buck, also didn't have a perfect endorsement record.

"DeMint certainly lost more of his fair share, think about California," Norton said on the same conference call.
 
In the Golden State, DeMint backed state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore to win the June Senate GOP primary. He finished third behind former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) and nominee Carly Fiorina.

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