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Good news, bad news from the caucuses

Wed, Mar 17, 2010

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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…

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. jocko Says:

    Sorry John, but your assessment of the Republican candidates against either of the Senate democrats is off base and colored again by your biases.
    Other, independent assessments, easily found on-line, show that all 3 of the Repub senatorial candidates out-margin by a couple of points both democrats. While a couple of points doesn’t mean a lot, it may show a trend for the future when things settle down for the November runoffs.

    But, I agree with you on Norton, she may talk the talk of a conservative Repub but she has never walked the walk and it is doubtful she would once she got back to Washington. Just another wishy washy ‘moderate’. We don’t need any more wishy washy republican moderates when the democrats are fielding their strongest candidates with an extreme left wing Marxist bent.
    Personally, I only want to see people in office that believe in the Constitution as originally written and not reinterpreted by the so-called progressives. When I studied history, last century, we learned that the progressives came from the socialists and communists. Of course, todays top Colorado schools don’t teach any of that kind of history today.

  2. Liam Says:

    I agree largely with your assessment, John. I personally think “Moderate” Republicans stand to succeed in this next CO election cycle over hard core party liners and recycled GOP has-beens. Think Scott Brown in MA. Far right wingers, who are still leaderless and woefully clueless as to what mainstream America is really searching for will continue to flail (& go to Tea Parties, where they equally have no standing).

    McInnis will no doubt do well in EPC (with his new dye job and hairless upper lip as pointed out, that’s all the substance Republicans in this county will need to vote for him). Maes will surprise everyone with a strong showing through the primary. But either McInnis or Maes will still lose the state to Hick.

    Norton’s snarky TV spot [in which she attacks the president & suggests he not run for reelection in 2012 over reasons Norton herself does not understand] is already a major embarrassment to the GOP (isn’t it about time to ask Wadhams to retire for the sake of party survival in this state?).

    As Bennet’s ads gear up (fueled by a financial war chest that is the envy of all), Romanoff will fall by the wayside and become irrelevant. Bennet vs. Buck? It’s a no brainer. Bennet by a landslide, as he wins his first election ever.

    Here in El Paso County, the GOP is so far out of touch with the rest of CO that it’s difficult to gauge their picks on any office more significant than County Commissioner. And this is not coming from any “liberal leftists,” but rather was the talk at the one GOP caucus I attended Tuesday evening (who definitely were not “so called progressives”).

  3. Dave Jordan Says:

    Liam,

    I completely agree with you. Buck just doesn’t have it. If he was SO big, how come he didn’t do as well as Romanoff?

    Hopefully Norton can get some better ads up. But then at least she is able to pay for her own stuff. I don’t get the Campaign for Liberty’s backing of Buck. Its just kinda weird.