Last night’s caucuses held a few surprises, to the delight of some.
Good news for Republicans: it looks as if Scott McInnis made at least two good decisions, as his race for the Governor’s mansion gathers steam. After shelling out $467 to an “image consultant,” he shaved his 1980’s mustache and changed his hair color from amateurishly dyed orangey-red to professionally tinted brownish red.
Now he looks like a governor, not some goofy deputy sheriff from Grand Junction. After forcing Senate minority leader and now-faded boy wonder Josh Penry out of the race a few months back (“Son, there’s only room for two Grand Junction boys in this race, so you gotta get out!”), he veered sharply to the right and neutralized the tea partiers.
Result; he cruised in the caucuses, ending the night with more than 60 percent of the votes. With 39.7 percent of the vote, Dan Maes did better than expected, but he won’t pose a serious threat in the primary.
If Maes had any chance at all, he would have had to win El Paso County. Instead, he trailed by 65-33. That’s a stunning setback, for which West Side Republican boss Sallie Clark deserves credit.
Clark, who chairs McInnis’ campaign in El Paso County, may well be named his running mate. Lieutenant Governor is the very definition of a nothingburger job, but Clark is young enough and smart enough to parlay it into a real job, win or lose.
Good news for Democrats: John Hickenlooper didn’t have an opponent, and can concentrate on the general, while rejoicing in…
Bad news for Republicans: In the race for the U.S. Senate nomination, Ken Buck outpolled establishment darling Jane Norton,(37.9 percent to 37.7 percent) if only by two tenths of a percentage point. It seems clear that there will be a bruising primary fight, which Norton might lose. A third candidate, Tom Wiens, got 16.5 percent of the vote, so there may even be a three-way race.
Although favored by the Republican right, Buck would most likely be trounced by either Bennet or Romanoff. Norton’s notably inarticulate, and visibly uncomfortable with the far-right rhetoric that Republican candidates are forced to spout prior to getting the nomination, but she’d do well against either of the Dems. In this race, a primary benefits only the Democratic nominee-which brings us to…
Bad News for Democrats: Andrew Romanoff’s moribund campaign came to unexpected life, as the former Speaker of the Colorado House outpolled incumbent Senator Michael Bennet 51.9 percent to 41.7 percent. Yes, Virginia, there will be a primary! And this time it won’t be a Ken Salazar vs. Mike Miles debacle.
Miles, the darling of party lefties, got top billing in the primary during 2004. He was (and is!) a powerfully charismatic guy, but primary voters decided that Salazar was also a great guy who could win. Result; Salazar won easily.
Bennet may be a great guy, but he’s never been elected to anything. He ascended (if that’s the word) to the Senate after Salazar resigned to become Interior Secretary and Governor Ritter appointed Bennet to fill the remainder of Salazar’s term last year.
In a general election, Romanoff might be the stronger candidate, unlike Miles.
Andy has spent years working the state, and, like John Hickenlooper, is popular with independents and moderate Republicans. Bennet may be seen as a carpetbagging easterner who managed to snow our bumbling governor into giving him a job.
Good news for political junkies: Primaries, primaries, primaries! Fraternal bloodletting! Cheaper than cable and twice as entertaining! I can’t wait…