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KUSA - One of the biggest political races in the nation is running hot early.

We've already tested ads from outside groups hitting Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado)and his challenger Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado.)

Wednesday saw the launch of the first ad directly from a campaign in the race. It's a message from Mark Udall to all the women out there.

9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say. You can find the entire collection of Truth Tests here: http://on9news.tv/1n55HYw. To learn more about how political ads and fact-checking work on 9NEWS, please read these answers to our common questions and comments.

If you're thinking this is really early for campaign ads, it is.

Later in the season, campaigns can force TV stations to give them the lowest possible rates.

As one operative in this race put it, there is "an unlimited amount of money on both sides" of this race, as long as it stays close because control of the US Senate is at stake.

So, what did the Udall camp spend a premium to tell you early?

CLAIM: "Cory Gardner's history promoting harsh anti-abortion laws is disturbing."

VERDICT: Opinion

Words like "harsh" and "disturbing" are your clues that this is an opinion. We can't test that, but we can test the rest of the ad trying to make that point.

CLAIM: "Gardner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony."

VERDICT: True.

In 2007, as a member of the state House of Representatives, Gardner was listed as a sponsor of SB-147.

The bill would have made it " a class 3 felony to perform an abortion," so the felony charge would have applied to abortion providers, not women who underwent abortions.

CLAIM: The bill Gardner supported would make abortion a felony in "cases of rape and incest."

VERDICT: True.

SB-147 did contain an exception to save the life of the mother. Aside from that, the bill would have outlawed abortion with no other exceptions.

The bill did contain language to protect the legal status of contraceptives, which is important in the next claim the ad makes.

CLAIM: "Gardner even championed an 8-year-crusade to outlaw (common forms of) birth control. Here, in Colorado."

VERDICT: Debatable.

Cory Gardner supported Personhood campaigns in Colorado, but this year he changed his mind.

His campaign says Gardner wanted to ban abortion, not birth control, pointing out that the above-mentioned 2007 bill did include language to protect contraceptives.

The Udall campaign counters that it is dishonest for Gardner to claim he didn't know the Personhood questions could affect birth control, because supporters said that it would.

However, the Udall campaign was unable to provide evidence of Gardner on record directly saying he opposes birth control.

With all of that information, you can decide whether you think Gardner qualifies as a "crusader" against birth control.

CLAIM: "Mark Udall protects [women's] right to choose."

VERDICT: Fair.

We've rated this claim fair. If you look at the scores Udall and Gardner earned from two groups in the abortion debate, you can see a very stark contrast.

Udall gets a perfect 100 percent score from Planned Parenthood and a zero percent rating from National Right to Life.

Gardner's scores from the two groups are the exact opposite. The same sort of affirmative claim could fairly be made for him by the other side that "Cory Gardner fights to protect the unborn."

BOTTOM LINE:

Udall is a pretty solid pro-choice candidate and Gardner is a pretty solid pro-life candidate.

Gardner's campaign says he's a pro-life guy who supports access to birth control, though he's definitely supported abortion bans before that could have restricted birth control.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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