Election 2018LegislatureNews

Republican Nic Morse, a former congressional nominee, drops primary bid in Larimer County’s Senate District 15

Author: Ernest Luning - March 11, 2018 - Updated: March 12, 2018

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Nic MorseRepublican Nic Morse (Photo courtesy Morse via Facebook)

Larimer County Republican Nic Morse is withdrawing from the race for the Senate District 15 seat held by term-limited state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who is seeking the GOP nomination for state treasurer, Colorado Politics has learned.

Morse, a marketing executive and the 2016 Republican nominee for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, said his decision was due to poor fundraising and tepid support within the party. His move leaves fast-food restaurant owner Rob Woodward as the only GOP candidate running for the heavily Republican seat.

“I wasn’t raising enough money or garnering enough support from party members to run a competitive race,” Morse said in a statement. “My goal of this campaign was to defend the district, further our agenda of returning our state to its appropriate role defending life, protecting our Second Amendment rights and, unfortunately, I am not capable of mounting a serious effort to do that.”

Morse reported raising just over $1,700 for his campaign through the end of the year. By comparison, Woodward raised nearly $36,500 through the same period, according to campaign finance reports.

Morse said he wouldn’t be endorsing Woodward’s candidacy.

Democrats Rebecca Cranston and Ralph Trenary are also running for the seat.

Last week, Unite Colorado, the group formerly known as the Centrist Project, said Senate District 15 is among a handful of districts statewide where it’s still recruiting unaffiliated candidates because it believes one would have a chance there with the group’s backing.

Morse ran about 20 points behind Polis in 2016 but claimed the distinction of winning the most votes for a Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Boulder, Larimer and parts of Jefferson counties, along with several counties that hug the I-70 corridor over the Continental Divide to Vail.

Senate District 15 includes nearly all of Larimer County except the city of Fort Collins and favors Republicans. According to the secretary of state’s office, about 36 percent of its voters are registered Republican, 24 percent are Democrats and 39 percent are unaffiliated.

When Morse announced his run in October, he said his top priorities were tackling issues with the state’s public pension program, making Interstate 25 expansion a priority and reducing the tax burden on businesses.

Morse won endorsements from former Larimer County Commissioner Steve Johnson, state Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, and University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl.

Woodward has the backing of U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and his wife, state Rep. Perry Buck, as well as former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, state Rep. Hugh McKean, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, and former state Rep. Brian DelGrosso.

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.