Only several weeks ago, few observers were willing to give Colorado’s 7th Congressional District Republican nominee and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier a chance. Even though the centrist African American Republican – somewhat of an anomaly in a party dominated by hardcore conservative views – handily beat his primary opposition, most observers paid little attention to the Denver suburb, considering incumbent Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO) in solid position. When asked about the possibility that Frazier could be the newest Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a Caucus source was fairly skeptical: “I don’t see that happening.”
Yet, over the past few weeks, the race shows signs of tightening. Frazier could end up joining a potential wave of Black Republicans poised for an unprecedented trip to Capitol Hill.
With analysts writing off the 7th District as “likely Democrat,” there have been few public polls taken to gauge the November outcome. One polling firm known for its GOP ties, Magellan Strategies, put Frazier ahead by one point, 40% to 39%. As a result, Frazier is suddenly enjoying a massive infusion of cash from Republican fundraising networks, including an unusually large anti-Perlmutter ad buy of nearly $600,000 from the American Future Fund. And while the district overwhelmingly voted for President Obama in 2008, 59% to 40%, the national GOP fundraising apparatus is gearing to pour a significant amount of resources into the district hoping to give Frazier the edge he needs against Perlmutter’s larger war chest. The National Republican Congressional Committee this week announced that Frazier would be placed on its list of 75 “Young Guns” slated to receive a dose of last minute cash. In recent Federal Election Commission filings, Frazier showed only $252,000 in the bank compared to Perlmutter’s $1.3 million.
Frazier’s youth, grassroots appeal and moderate policy positions have made the race much more competitive than previously thought. As an at-Large Aurora City Councilman, he’s forged deep relationships with the Denver suburb’s politically active Black community, which constitutes 4% of the district’s population. Not wanting to speak on record, many Black Democratic party insiders in the Denver-metro area express admiration for and familiarity with Frazier. Some within the party worry that Frazier could enjoy significant local Black support against Perlmutter, as African Americans in Colorado seek to regain political power lost with the departure of Colorado State Senate President Peter Groff and the term-limited retirement of state House Speaker Terrance Carroll. Trouncing her primary competition with 60% of the vote, businesswoman Angela Williams is set to become the only African American in the Colorado House.
Regardless of party, African Americans in Colorado want to see people of color drawing political clout in the state. And Frazier, who does not hide his Black community ties, is seen as an opportunity to send the first African American from the state of Colorado to Congress. There are signs of quiet Black support in 7th Congressional mounting for Frazier.