Conservative brewing magnate Peter Coors officially launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate Tuesday to replace retiring fellow Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell in Colorado, a key state in the party’s efforts to maintain control of Congress.
Surrounded by family members from the well-known and politically conservative Coors clan and introduced by Campbell as his worthy successor, Peter Coors promised to help the jobless get back to work and to cut taxes.
“So, what’s first on my agenda? -- jobs and a stronger economy,” the 57-year-old father of six told about 75 supporters on the steps of the state capitol.
“I’m a tax cutter,” he said, “because I believe Coloradans know best how to spend their own money.”
Some of his own money will probably be spent on his campaign -- in the first political race the chairman of Coors Brewing Co. has ever entered. Parent company Adolph Coors Co. is the No. 3 U.S. brewer.
Coors, whose family has given millions to various conservative causes, is expected to face former Rep. Bob Schaffer, also a conservative, in the Republican primary. If he wins, he will be up against Ken Salazar, a popular Hispanic vote-getter and as attorney general, the only Democrat to hold a statewide office.
Republicans can at least breathe a sign of relief. Since early March when Campbell, the only American Indian in Congress, said he would not seek a third term, Coors has emerged as the first big-name Republican willing to run.
Gov. Bill Owens, who was at Coors’ announcement, had been expected to run and surprised everyone when he said last month he would not enter the race, citing family reasons.
Other high-profile potential candidates also decided not to run. Finally, Schaffer, a conservative, stepped up.
“This is the person I want to replace me,” Campbell said when he introduced Coors. “We don’t have enough people in the Senate with hands-on experience to run a business and meet a payroll.”
The retirement of the popular Campbell gave Democrats a lift in their battle to try to regain control of the Senate, which Republicans barely control with 51 out of 100 seats. Democrats were optimistic when it seemed Schaffer would be the only Republican seeking the Senate seat. Now they will face in Coors a well-known and well-heeled candidate.
Schaffer will stay in the race, his spokeswoman said in a statement. “The people of Colorado deserve a full, vigorous debate on the issues that matter most. We are very comfortable. At the end of the day Bob Schaffer will be elected as Colorado’s next United States Senator.”
Salazar will face only nominal competition in the primary.
Coors spoke of his great-grandfather, company founder and German immigrant Adolph Coors. “Like all immigrants he knew America was a land of promise and of opportunity,” he said.
He said his family and its employees were able to build the Golden, Colorado-based company with hard work and dedication. The Coors family was long known as being anti-union.
“Our company’s values are our family’s values and our family’s values I believe are Colorado values,” Coors said.
While Democratic prospects have improved in Colorado, they still face a tough challenge gaining seats across the country. Five southern Democratic senators are retiring in a region that is becoming increasingly Republican.