The Colorado Primary Election brought several lessons to the fore. Here are some of them.
OBAMA RULES. The President fought hard for the election of Senator Michael Bennet and was a major factor in Bennet’s victory. Bill Clinton aided Andrew Romanoff at a fraction of the level compared to Obama. Going all-out, as Obama did, made a difference.
DON’T MESS WITH THE POST. Although The Denver Post pounded both Scott McInnis and Andrew Romanoff, McInnis took the toughest hits and they totally changed the race. For Romanoff, the difference was more than enough to lose. Remember, “Don’t fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
TWINS: BENNET AND ROMANOFF. Bennet’s argument that he and Romanoff were identical in their positions resonated with many voters. They said, “Why get rid of our own incumbent Senator?” and Romanoff — who had stellar credentials as a candidate — was unable to communicate a convincing case.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE. Although not a natural glad-hander, those who got to know Bennet were consistently impressed. Republican U.S. Senate nominee Ken Buck comes off as candid and got strategic support where he could. And Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes proved he could overcome adversity and outwork any opponent. And before he is dismissed by the press and pundits for not having served in elective office, remember that John Hickenlooper had never run for office before becoming Mayor.
THE TEA PARTY ARRIVES. The success of Ken Buck clearly was due, in part, to Tea Party activists. They proved themselves to be a consistent force in his winning the state party assembly and the Primary Election. While their numbers may not be as meaningful in the General Election, if they actively campaign for Buck, they will be a plus.
IT’S OK TO CAMPAIGN FROM CALIFORNIA. Walker Stapleton’s victory over J.J. Ament in the Republican Primary for State Treasurer came despite the fact business obligations forced Stapleton to miss many campaign events. Evidently Republican voters can be forgiving (cf. Scott McInnis). Stapleton proved television and radio advertising — especially when unopposed — work for a candidate in absentia. He also demonstrated that it’s OK to invoke TABOR’s provisions to let voters decide if there should be tax increases.
BLACK HELICOPTERS AND BICYCLES. Dan Maes snuck by Scott McInnis when Republican voters decided conspiracy theories trumped plagiarism. We already can see a Hickenlooper ad with the Mayor on a red bicycle rather than his old scooter. If Maes is smart, he’ll beat him to it and make fun of himself.
THE BIG WINNER. The biggest winner next to John Hickenlooper — who didn’t even have a Primary Election opponent — probably was Tom Tancredo. With the Republican Party split, Tancredo will argue he is the candidate Republicans should support. Once Maes shows he is within 10 points of Hickenlooper, however, the calls for Tancredo to drop out will be deafening.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS. The Primary Election results mean Democrats likely will keep the keys to the Governor’s Mansion. An easy race will allow them to put resources in other contests. They can’t be too cocky, however, because Maes will run a very appealing anti-establishment “Everyman” campaign. Keep in mind Maes was the first and still possibly only gubernatorial candidate who offered specific solutions to the state’s budgetary problems. He will do it again.
Stay tuned — the fun has just begun!
Host of The Aaron Harber Show and Colorado Election 2010