DENVER, CO — A conservative group in Colorado is attempting to push energy to the forefront of the political conversation in a billboard campaign that is drawing cheers and jeers.
Starting this week Compass Colorado is running ads on 28 billboards, seven in Grand Junction and 21 in the Denver metro area, that put President Obama, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and one of three Democratic Congressional candidates together under the tagline “Higher Gas Prices? YES! U.S. Energy Independence? NO!” The three Colorado Democrats targeted in their respective Congressional districts are Congressman Ed Perlmutter, State Representative Joe Miklosi and State Representative Sal Pace.
With gas prices hovering over $4 per gallon in parts of the state, Compass Colorado clearly sees restrictive Obama Administration energy policies as vulnerable to criticism.
“President Obama and [Congressman] Ed Perlmutter have spent their long political careers opposing American made energy,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, president of Compass Colorado in a press release. “By opposing the Keystone Pipeline and domestic drilling, Obama and Perlmutter have directly contributed to higher gas prices across the country.”
On its website, Compass Colorado points out the energy records of President Obama and the three Colorado Democrats, which include a variety of votes against domestic drilling for oil and gas. The site also points out Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s own record on increasing gas prices through threats to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and limits on oil production intended to drive up prices.
The comparison between Colorado candidates and an Iranian dictator may seem far fetched at first, but Houlton says the comparison is made “so Coloradans know there is not an inch of daylight between the Democrats and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when it comes to opposing American energy independence.”
“I love the snarky Compass billboards,” said State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “They quickly remind people what they intuitively know; that Obama has made things worse.”
The Democratic Congressional candidates targeted in the billboards were not quite as pleased with the ads as Senator Brophy. State Reps. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) and Joe Miklosi (D-Denver) sent out fundraising emails attacking the ads.
Miklosi’s campaign email called the ads “dangerous” and asked for money to combat what it called “shady outside groups.” Pace’s email sounded a similar note calling the ads “disturbing” and likewise asked for donations to fight “a shadowy Republican group.”
In addition to reaching the email lists of Miklosi and Pace’s campaigns, news of the billboards got some national attention as well. Liberal news site Huffington Post and Politico’s Morning Score both included write ups on the ad campaign, in addition to earning some ink in The Denver Post‘s coverage of Mitt Romney’s visit to Colorado to talk about energy on Tuesday.
The billboard campaign is also not the first for the newly-created conservative group, which was founded late last year. In March, Compass Colorado launched a billboard campaign with 21 locations that criticized President Obama on his economic record. Those ads were up for two months. The current rotation of billboard ads is expected to be up for a little more than a month.