Colorado Senate race: Former Olympic athlete and Air Force veteran launches 2022 GOP campaign

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Olympic athlete and U.S. Air Force veteran Eli Bremer on Tuesday launched a Republican Senate campaign in Colorado, aiming to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in the 2022 midterm elections.

“Having twice worn the uniform of our nation – in the military and in the Olympics – I am concerned that the country I have represented is being sold out by self-interested politicians,” Bremer said in a statement shared first with Fox News.

Bremer took aim at Bennet, charging that “in 12 years, he has authored one piece of legislation that has been signed into law. One.” And he vowed that “as the next U.S. Senator from Colorado, I will work for pragmatic solutions that positively impact Colorado and America.” 

Raised in Colorado, Bremer graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served 14 years as a commissioned officer. He represented the U.S. in modern pentathlon in the 2008 Olympics. 

Bremer said in an interview with Fox News that he’s “had the chance to travel the globe, and that gave me a profound appreciation for what we have here in America.”

“I’m watching right now as our nation is sort of falling apart and saying, ‘I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore,’” he emphasized.

Bremer grabbed national attention as one of the lead athletes in the bipartisan Olympic reforms push in the wake of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. Bremer criticized Bennet, one of the founding chairs of the Senate Olympic caucus, charging that the senator refused to get involved. And Bremer argued that “we need a senator from Colorado who brings a healthy dose of common sense and traditional Colorado values and that’s just not where he (Bennet) is.”

In a video launching his campaign, Bremer crisscrosses the state looking for Bennet.

“I’ve been all over Colorado in search of a rare creature,” the candidate says in the satiric video. “It’s simply amazing. This guy Michael Bennet claims to work as our U.S. senator but it’s almost like he doesn’t exist.”

And pointing to Bennet’s unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential election, Bremer says the senator was “talking to voters in New Hampshire rather than Colorado. He ran for president in case you forgot.”

Bennet, the Denver public schools superintendent at the time, was appointed to the Senate in 2009 when incumbent Sen. Ken Salazar was confirmed as interior secretary in the Obama administration. He narrowly won a full six-year term in 2010 and was reelected in 2016 by nearly six points. 

Colorado, once a top national battleground, has trended more blue in recent years. Former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper – who also ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination – ousted incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner by nearly 10 points last November. And President Biden carried the state by 13 points over former President Trump.

National Republicans see Colorado as a potential pickup in the 2022 midterm elections, when the GOP needs just a one-seat net gain to regain the Senate majority it lost in the 2020 cycle. They currently view the state as the leading target in a second tier, just behind Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada, the GOP’s top four targets to flip a blue seat red.

Bremer, who was a four-time Olympic announcer for NBC Sports, becomes the fourth, and most high-profile Republican, to launch a Senate campaign, joining a primary field that is likely far from complete. A former chair of El Paso County GOP who lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and 6-year-old son, Bremer argued that “our state is probably 7 to 8 points more Republican than it looks.”

He predicted that “people here are living every day seeing the consequence of failed Democratic policies and there will be a backlash, and running a good campaign with a candidate who brings commonsense traditional Colorado values to the table, we have a chance to do something special and win that Senate seat.”

Pointing to the economy and the recent rise in inflation, he said that “these are commonsense issues that Republicans have good solutions on.” And taking aim at Biden and congressional Democrats, he argued that “pumping trillions of dollars into the economy is a pretty bad idea. Paying people not to work is a bad idea.”

Asked by Fox News whether he’d support the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that was on track for final passage in the Senate on Tuesday if he were in Congress right now, Bremer said since he hadn’t read the massive bill, he’d “be uncomfortable coming out with a position.”

He noted that “we do need to invest in broadband across America, we do need to invest in roads and bridges” but added that “I’m deeply concerned about the massive amount of money that we’re pumping into the economy.” 

Bremer also said he’ll spotlight the environment as he runs for the Senate. And as a vocal opponent of transgender athletes competing in female events, he said, “there’s a lot of women I know who are horrified that the gains that feminists have made over the last three decades are being chipped away.”

A lifelong Republican, Bremer supported and worked on Trump’s successful 2016 campaign for the White House. While acknowledging that Trump is the most influential Republican in the country, Bremer demurred on whether the former president is the leader of the GOP.

“There are so many amazing Republicans who are in the 40s and 50s that I would love to see move into the national leadership position,” he told Fox News.

And comparing politics to sports, he added that “I believe that going forward I’d love to see some of that young blood come forward and lead us not just for the next four years but maybe the next 10, 15, 20 years.”

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