April 24, 2004

THE FIRST PRIMARY OF 2008:

Senate Beckons a Coors From Beer to Political Ads: Through philanthropy, conservative politics and, of course, beer, the Coors family helped shape Colorado. Now the Coors name is hanging over a key Senate race. (KIRK JOHNSON, 4/24/04, NY Times)

"I don't think things are as dire for the Republicans as it seemed when Campbell got out," said Jennifer E. Duffy, the Senate editor at the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter in Washington. "But I'd be surprised to see it move out of the toss-up category — it's one of these races that's there for the duration."

Here in Colorado, many people say the biggest presence in the race is a man who is not running — Mr. Coor's father, Joseph. The elder Mr. Coors emerged in the 1960's as a spokesman and financial backer of the conservative agenda that politicians like Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Ronald Reagan were creating. He later helped to found the Heritage Foundation in Washington, which has since become a bulwark of conservative research and thought.

It was during that period that that Mr. Coors became a political totem for the left as well, as labor and liberal groups organized a beer boycott that lasted well into the 1980's.

"My sense is that they've tried to package Pete as Coors light — that he's a Coors, but not like his parents with the Heritage Foundation and the hard-right crowd," said Chris Gates, the state Democratic chairman.

Mr. Coors's campaign manager, Sean Tonner, said his candidate's political views were in fact quite similar to those of his father, but with one major difference.

"Pete always realizes there needs to be compromise in order to move forward," Mr. Tonner said. "He's very much his own man."

Dan Baum, a journalist and author who has closely studied the Coors family, said he thought Mr. Coors's biggest problem could be the rigidly hierarchical, publicity-shy traditions that for generations have dictated how members of the Coors family are expected to behave.

"He's the least-suited person I can think of to endure a campaign," said Mr. Baum, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of "Citizen Coors — A Grand Family Saga of Business, Politics and Beer" (HarperCollins, 2000). "Like everybody else in the family, he's incredibly private and very thin-skinned."

But he is also unquestionably familiar. For years, he has been his company's spokesman on television commercials, extolling the virtues of clean water or responsible drinking. The beer commercials featuring Mr. Coors stopped running in Colorado the day before his Senate announcement, a campaign spokesman said, but will continue to run outside the state.


"hanging over"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2004 8:56 AM
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