Republicans Throw Elbows at Each Other as Colorado Senate Race Begins

After State Sen. Ray Scott's name was floated on Facebook as a possible candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton stood up for his guy, State Sen. Tim Neville.

"I don't see anyone beating Tim in the primary, and I don't see Ray as a threat," wrote Everett. "Especially because [State Sen. Jerry] Sonnenberg will probably get in as well, and they'd probably be competing with each other for the rural vote."

To which, Ray Scott replied on Facebook, "Tunnel vision only applies when you're in a tunnel."

Everett then wrote: "Reality based on 20 years political experience from being paid staff on state-wide campaigns, tight with consultant class, to doing high dollar fundraising for the RNC [Republican National Committee]. I got creds."

"I'm friends with Ray and Jerry, but the fact is, this is a battle. If you are going to take on Michael Bennet, you have to have a proven candidate," Everett told me when asked about the Facebook post.

But how does he know Sonnenberg is even likely to run?

"I call it the rule of three. I've heard from three people that Jerry flat-out said he would run," said Everett, adding that the three people are from different groups.

In an interview yesterday, Sonnenberg said he has not made up his mind on the race.

He confirmed this that he's been "looking at" running for "several months" but was waiting on "George Brauchler's decision" before deciding whether to enter the race himself.

Considered a top Republican choice for months, Aurora theater prosecutor George Brauchler has announced he would not run against Bennet.

"I've spent the past week meeting with a number of people in Denver," he said, adding that he anticipates "having a decision by the first of next week."

"Michael Bennet's numbers look worse than Mark Udall's did a year out," he said. "I see that as an opportunity to have two Republican Senators from Colorado."

As for Scott, Everett says he's heard from other sources that Scott is serious about the race, and Everett points to the fact that Scott himself "chimed in" during the Facebook exchange as further confirmation of this.

Scott did not return a call for comment.

In response to a commenter who called Scott a "good candidate," Everett wrote on Facebook: "Performance matters. Ray hasn't raised money from anyone or PACS. Tim has... My horse [Neville] knows how to win a race and is battle tested. Ray has never had a competitive race. Tim Neville, no better horse out there."

Everett told me Neville can win based on the "Ken Buck Model of 2010 when he beat Jane Norton." Buck went on to nearly defeat Bennet in the general, despite mistakes by national Republicans, he told me.

"There's a path for victory for Tim, not only in the primary, but in the general," said Everett, adding that Buck was way outspent by Norton and still won.

"Tim is smart enough to get good people behind him and raise money," continued Everett. "He knows how to do direct mail, micro-targeting, voter ID. They know how to run campaigns, and they've been successful in primaries. He'll work his butt off. He's authentic. He's in an excellent position to win the primary. Is this a battle Republicans want to fight? Or should they coalesce around Tim?"

In addition to Neville, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Parker mayor Greg Lopez have already announced their intention to seek the GOP spot against Bennet. Attorney Dan Caplis is "very serious" about a run, and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith is thinking about entering the race.