WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Udall cancelled his appearance at his own fundraiser Wednesday in Denver with President Barack Obama citing “last-minute votes and legislative activity,” adding to reports the vulnerable incumbent is avoiding the Democratic leader and his plummeting poll numbers.
The statement issued by Udall’s campaign office early Wednesday said “the Senate has decided to vote on Wednesday to confirm the new U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who has authority over issues like flood recovery.”
However, that vote passed a technical hurdle last week and lawmakers were expecting the confirmation vote this week. Also, the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the Homeland Security Department has primary authority over flood recovery.
The statement said Udall would be “continuing legislative action on a bipartisan sportsmen’s bill,” although Udall has not appeared on the Senate floor this week to address the issue.
Also cited was the planned introduction of a bill Wednesday to overturn the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. Udall announced his bill to the Washington press corps during a 10 a.m. media conference at the Capitol, and later did an interview with MSNBC.
“Mark is grateful for the president’s support, and had hoped to welcome him to Colorado in person, but his responsibilities to serve Colorado in the Senate come first,” said the statement from Udall’s campaign office posted by KUSA News.
Udall had already declined to meet the visiting president at the airport on his arrival Tuesday night or attend a speech in Chessman Park Wednesday morning, also citing votes on Tuesday in the Senate. There were no Senate votes on Tuesday, however the Intelligence Committee on which Udall is a member held a vote beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.
“Mark Udall’s disappearing act reinforces why Coloradans have grown tired of his broken promises and are embracing an honest, competent and energetic leader like Cory Gardner who solves problems instead of hiding from them,” said Brook Hougesen, press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“No matter how hard Mark Udall tries to erase those sweet words of praise for President Obama, Coloradans know that Udall has stood by Obama’s side time and time again voting in lockstep 99 percent of the time,” Hougesen said.
Ticket prices range from $1,000 to $30,000 to attend the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser event for Udall.
In addition to Obama, other Democrats attending include Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet who chairs the committee, Rep. Diana DeGette and Mayor Hancock.
Udall isn’t the only Democrat to shun the president. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff, the Democratic candidate running for the 6th Congressional District seat, did not attend the president’s speech.
However, Hickenlooper did make a public appearance Tuesday night with Obama to shoot a game of pool at the Wynkoop Brewery.
“I think they’re embarrassing themselves and frankly, I think they’re embarrassing Colorado,” said Republican strategist Dick Wadhams.
“There’s hardly anything Republican candidates agree with President Obama on, but he’s still the president of the United States, and it’s just embarrassing when these Democratic elected officials dive for cover and won’t be seen with their party’s leader. I think they’re embarrassing themselves and they’re embarrassing the state of Colorado,” Wadhams said.
Valerie Richardson contributed to this report from Denver.