CongressElection 2018News

Poll results convince Democrat Tillemann to stay in 6th CD race

Author: Ernest Luning - May 14, 2018 - Updated: May 16, 2018

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Democratic congressional candidate Levi Tillemann attends a Democratic Party listening tour event Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 68 hall in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Democratic congressional candidate Levi Tillemann attends a Democratic Party listening tour event Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 68 hall in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Democrat Levi Tillemann on Monday said he plans to stay in the 6th Congressional District primary after a private poll his campaign commissioned shows he’s leading Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman by 5 points — better than the statistical tie the same poll found between Jason Crow, the other Democrat in the race, and the five-term incumbent Coffman.

Tillemann on Friday had said he would withdraw from the primary if a Public Policy Polling survey conducted last week backed up a claim made by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that polling shows Crow “is the only candidate in this race” who can defeat Coffman.

Instead, while he declined to release detailed poll results Monday, Tillemann told Colorado Politics that the survey “clearly” contradicts what the DCCC and its chairman, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, have maintained about Crow’s chances of winning the seat being significantly better than Tillemann’s — and called on Crow to withdraw from the race and for the DCCC to “stop their meddling” in Democratic primaries.

“Integrity used to be considered an asset in pursuit of public office, and getting caught in a bald-faced lie was often enough to end a career. Donald Trump has removed all shame from GOP politicians. We worry Mr. Crow and the DCCC may have contracted that same virus. They seem to believe lying is OK so long as they can get away with it. As Democrats, we must reject this race to the bottom,” Tillemann said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the DCCC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Crow’s campaign dismissed Tillemann’s demand as the latest in a series of “political stunts” but declined to comment on a poll Tillemann has refused to make public.

The only publicly released polling in the race — conducted in February, also by Raleigh, North Carolina-based PPP — showed Crow ahead of Coffman by 5 points. That poll, which was commissioned by a liberal group supporting campaign finance reform that has endorsed Crow, didn’t measure Tillemann’s strength in a general election matchup against Coffman.

According to the Tillemann campaign’s description of the more recent PPP poll, when district voters were asked to choose between the candidates knowing just their names and party identification, both Tillemann and Crow were shown to be statistically tied with Coffman — meaning no one leads by more than the survey’s 4-percent margin of error.

After adding a handful of details about the two Democrats, who are both first-time candidates, however, Tillemann takes a five-point, 43-38 percent lead over Coffman, while Crow and Coffman remain in a statistical tie, Tillemann told Colorado Politics.

The automated poll described Crow as an Army veteran, attorney and father, Tillemann’s campaign said. It described Tillemann as a clean-energy entrepreneur and Obama-administration appointee fluent in five languages.

The poll surveyed 606 likely general election voters in the largely suburban 6th District, which is nearly evenly divided between Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

Tillemann told Colorado Politics that the survey included other questions about voter sentiment in the district, which has been among the most hotly contested — and expensive — races in the country for the past two cycles.

“We purposefully designed the poll so we can release the results in its entirety if and when necessary, but for now there is a wealth of data contained within it, and we are going to choose where and when we share that valuable information,” he said.

Crow’s campaign manager, Alex Ball, wasn’t impressed.

“Over the course of the last few months, Mr. Tilleman has been focused on political stunts and attacking or secretly recording his fellow Democrats rather than running a campaign based on integrity and issues,” she told Colorado Politics in an emailed statement.

“It’s unfortunate that while our country is at a crossroads, he continues to divide rather than unite so while we can’t comment on a poll that he’s refusing to make public, we can reaffirm Jason’s commitment to running a positive and inclusive campaign that is focused on fighting for the folks of the 6th district,” Ball added.

Even if Tillemann does eventually release detailed results from the survey, Coffman’s campaign manager dismissed it as meaningless.

“Mike Coffman is ready to compete against either one of these jokers: Jason Crow, the white shoe criminal defense lawyer handpicked by Nancy Pelosi and Diana DeGette, or Levi Tillemann, the ‘outsider’ who is directly related to more powerful Denver and D.C. politicians than any person on the planet not named Kennedy,” Tyler Sandberg said in an email.

Tillemann’s grandmother, Nancy Dick, was the first woman elected lieutenant governor by Colorado voters. His grandfather, the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos from California, was the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.