Republican Savannah Wolfson ramps up attacks on Democrat Meghan Lukens in state House race
Lukens said claims made on a website bashing her are "absolutely ridiculous"
Following statements about how her campaign has remained positive, Republican Savannah Wolfson is paying for a website and mailers to attack her Democratic opponent Meghan Lukens.
In response, Lukens has called the website, MeghanLukensLies.com, and the claims it makes about her “absolutely ridiculous.”
“When folks run negative campaigns, that’s what people hate about politics,” Lukens told the Steamboat Pilot & Today on Thursday, Oct. 27. “If her entire platform is attacking me, then that’s her choice, but I don’t know how attacking me helps a single voter in our district.”
The website domain was registered on Sept. 15, nearly a month before Wolfson told the newspaper that her campaign has been positive.
“I also think my campaign has been positive,” Wolfson previously said in response to a question about negative comparisons soft money groups have made between her and U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert.
On Thursday, Wolfson defended the website.
“With all of the local media being saturated with, you know, Google taking up all the ad revenue and obviously the radio station not reporting fairly, and the debate wasn’t reported on at all, we knew we had to work overtime and creatively to get the word out because voters deserve to know the truth,” Wolfson said.
Asked if the website is consistent with her earlier statement about positive campaigning, Wolfson said that she thinks “voters deserve to know the truth.”
“I think I’m positive towards the voters deserving to know the truth,” Wolfson continued. “I think the truth has been hidden from people.”
The race for Colorado House District 26 has seen attacks on both candidates fueled by soft money spending groups, but the website and mailers are different because they’re being paid for by Wolfson’s campaign.
Lukens has also said she is proud to be running a positive campaign. When Pilot & Today asked Lukens in an Oct. 13 interview if she thought her opponent was running a positive campaign, Lukens declined to say anything negative about Wolfson.
“Even in this interview, I think I would like to focus on myself,” Lukens said. “So, I guess no comment.”
Routt County Democrats Chair Catherine Carson said attacks lobbed directly by one candidate at another have only risen to this level once before in a Routt County election — when Boebert defeated Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in a U.S. House race in 2020.
Routt County Republicans Chair Pete Wood said a campaign going negative isn’t surprising to him, especially when the race is close. The House District 26 race is expected to be one of the closest in the state.
“I think candidates on both sides in both parties will come out with the good intentions of wanting to run a clean campaign but, ultimately, in close races will start throwing mud, and that’s what’s happened here,” Wood said.
Wood couldn’t point to any attacks coming directly from Lukens’ campaign, but he said outside groups have produced a barrage of negative mailers and ads against Wolfson.
“Democrats are clearly not above the political fray in this race or nationally,” Wolfson said Thursday. “Our criticism of Lukens is to give voters the correct information. … Their criticism of me has been their cookie-cutter criticism of all Republicans because they are unable to find any real dirt in my record or personal life.”
The website Wolfson is paying for partially focuses on where Lukens lands on wolf reintroduction, which has become an issue in the state House race. Lukens has said she voted against reintroducing wolves and would support asking voters about the measure again. However, Lukens has also said she does not favor overturning the will of voters, while Wolfson has said she would fight the reintroduction of wolves.
The website from Wolfson’s campaign includes a series of images of Lukens, often with additions edited into them. One of the photos shows Lukens in hockey gear with the puck edited to say “lies,” while another superimposes a banner over Lukens reading “AOC Wanna Be,” referring to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York.
The website also makes a misleading claim about Lukens’ position on policing, saying that she wants to defund police based on a 2-year-old Facebook post in support of SB20-217, a police accountability bill that passed the state legislature with support from Republicans and Democrats.
“That’s a great example of why all the claims on the website are ridiculous,” Lukens said. “If you look at the text of Senate Bill 217, then you understand it actually added funding to the police. … I look forward to being supportive and continuing to fund our law enforcement.”
The mailer, which sources the website, claims that Lukens — who has never held an elective office — was elected twice in Boulder and moved to her hometown of Steamboat Springs to run for the Colorado House. Lukens, who used to be the vice chair of the Boulder County Democratic Party, has said she moved back to the Yampa Valley in 2021 to teach in the school district where she graduated.
“I have never held public office,” Lukens said.
Wolfson said she doesn’t think the mailer was misleading when it said Lukens was “elected in Boulder twice,” adding that being elected as a party leader “is literally the same thing.”
“I really want voters to know the truth, and when the local medial has been all slanted in one direction we knew we had to provide the truth to voters,” Wolfson said.
Brian Harvey, general manager of Steamboat Radio, said he takes allegations about unfair coverage seriously and that the station’s news coverage, which is directed by Lukens’ mother, has been “more than fair.”
Harvey said they have been using a spreadsheet to track their coverage to ensure fairness and have largely shied away from the state House race in general. In terms of ads, Harvey said Wolfson has purchased more airtime than Lukens, and each candidate was given the same advertising rates.
“We take that kind of stuff really, really seriously, so I just want you to know that we are more than fair,” Harvey said. “Any political stories we’ve done recently are about how to vote and how elections are being run.”
Ballots have been in voters’ hands for about a week, and the last day election officials recommend mailing them back is Oct. 31. Ballots can be dropped off at locations around the county until 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.
Wolfson, who was out knocking doors Thursday, said she is focused on affordability and reducing the number of personal recognizance bonds issued.
“And we’re focused on protecting rural Colorado from Boulder and Front Range politicians who are trying to decimate our industries,” Wolfson said.
Lukens said she is spending a lot of the final days before the election door-knocking as well.
“I’m running because I care about our community,” Lukens said. “This is the community that I grew up in, live in, work in and I’m running to get results.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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