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Colorado Senate

Filing Deadline: June 5
Primary: Aug. 11

Nov. 4, 1998 — Republican incumbent Ben Nighthorse Campbell won his first Senate bid as a Republican, defeating Democrat Dottie Lamm. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Campbell won 62 percent and Lamm won 35 percent.

Lamm, a former Denver Post columnist and wife of former governor Richard D. Lamm (D), spent the last weeks before Election Day chastising Campbell for what she called "flip-flops" on issues. Campbell, who won comfortably as a Democrat in 1992 and switched parties in 1995 after the GOP won control of Congress, retaliated by saying Lamm lacked political experience and understanding of the legislative process.

Polls: A Denver Post/9 News/KOA Radio tracking poll showed Campbell up a whopping 29 points in late October, with 60 percent to Lamm's 31. A Denver Post survey earlier in the month showed Campbell with 54 percent and Lamm with 33 percent. A poll by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research around the same time showed Campbell with 50 percent to Lamm's 37 percent. As the campaign wound down, Campbell appeared to win over undecided voters, who numbered 13 percent in both the Denver Post and Mason-Dixon polls.

Issues: Lamm held up a thick stack of papers at debates, calling it Campbell's book of missed votes. She blasted Campbell for conflicting votes on issues including abortion, corporate tax breaks and gay rights. Lamm, who lost the 1992 Democratic primary to Campbell, hired a gymnast named "Flip-horse" in September to perform back hand springs at campaign stops.

Campbell, the only Native American in the Senate, won support from tribes in Colorado and nationwide, as well as from several fellow Republican senators. Campbell countered Lamm's attacks, saying he votes for what he believes in, and overcame early campaign problems with high staff turnover and disorganization. Campbell kept a fairly low profile during the race, agreeing to a minimum of debates and focusing more on himself than on his opponent.

Advertising: Both candidates launched several television ads in October. One of Campbell's spots featured his wife, a teacher, in her classroom; the other showed him at home on his picturesque ranch. Lamm's ads told voters that choosing her meant "the candidate you see is the senator you'll get."

Fund-raising: Data from the Federal Election Commission for late September showed Campbell raised $2.9 million and spent $2.3 million, and Lamm raised $1.64 million and spent $1.5 million. Lamm got a surge of cash (in late July she reported only $890,000) fueled by major fund-raisers with Vice President Al Gore and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Campbell got a boost from former president George Bush and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

— Susan Heavey,

Susan Heavey can be reached at

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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