Gossip: June 22, 2012
CALL KILLS RUMORS OF SENATE BID AS FAMILIAR PROSPECTS START TO EMERGE
It’s usually the job of this column to pass on rumors and float the trial balloons of the Colorado political crowd, but this time we’re going to start out by quashing a piece of gossip making the rounds.
In no uncertain terms, state GOP boss Ryan Call wants to demolish the notion that he might be considering a run for Democrat Mark Udall’s U.S. Senate seat two years from now. That’s right: He’s not running, not even maybe.
It’s a rumor that’s been bandied about in some Republican circles in recent weeks, and one that had Democratic operatives and officials briefly licking their chops — “Now wouldn’t that be interesting,” quoth a Dem whose smile quickly overtook his face when apprised of the possibility — but the realities of the calendar, if nothing else, consign this scuttlebutt to canard status. After all, Call said last week with an incredulous grin, he’s got a high-pressure presidential race on his hands and plenty of party business to occupy him until well past the time a 2014 Senate candidate would have to get busy.
Call wouldn’t rule out running for something sometime — especially if the GOP scores in the fall election, the young, articulate face of said GOP could be an attractive candidate, many agree — but for the foreseeable future, he’s got his hands full.
As for that Senate seat, which Udall is already gearing up to defend mightily, we hear the usual Republican suspects could be less likely to throw in their hats than a couple of potential candidate already familiar to statewide voters.
While conventional wisdom has it that Mike Coffman has been laying pipe for the run — it would be the sixth office he’s sought, on top of an unbroken win streak spanning decades that has landed him in the state House, the state Senate, the state treasurer’s chair, the secretary of state’s office and his current seat in Congress, not counting his tenure on the Aurora Planning Commission — we hear it might not be in the cards.
A Coffman vs. Udall race, we hear, is less likely than many suppose, for a variety of reasons. First, should Coffman survive this year’s contest in the reconfigured, evenly divided 6th District, say some Republicans, it would be folly to abandon it so quickly, turning it into an open seat and easier pickings for Democrats. Second, the military veteran has every hope of parlaying congressional seniority into some real clout on the Armed Services Committee, hopes he would dash by starting all over in the upper chamber.
Likewise, say top Republicans, whispers that first-termer Cory Gardner might turn his sights on Udall are probably overblown. Especially after his redrawn 4th District looks more and more like the safest Republican seat in the state (safer even than Doug Lamborn’s 5th District seat, a nearly constant target for primary challengers), Gardner can afford to take some time building his reputation and adding some gray hairs before a statewide bid.
What isn’t so farfetched, we hear, is the possibility first reported by this column a few months back that Udall could face a rematch against the candidate he trounced four years ago, former U.S. Rep. (and current State Board of Education chairman) Bob Schaffer.
Schaffer has been steadily burnishing his already sterling reputation among conservatives these past few years in Larimer County by running a school and helping market his wife’s blended margaritas. While some Udall insiders relish the chance to tag Schaffer with a litany of insulting nicknames all over again, some also caution that Democrats likely threw everything they had at Schaffer, who would be far less vulnerable to a repeat of the same attacks. And without Obama on the ballot in 2014, and especially if it’s the second midterm election of an Obama presidency, whoever gets the GOP nomination would have a leg up compared to Schaffer’s position in 2008. Stay tuned.
For those readers who’ve stuck with us this far, we’ve saved the best for last.
The most likely Republican candidate for Udall’s seat, top Republicans tell us, is a name familiar to friend and foe alike: former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, who gave up a congressional seat six years ago to launch what most agree was a stumbling campaign for governor, which he lost to one-termer Democrat Bill Ritter.
That’s right, Beauprez, a former state party chairman and nearly constant fixture at major state Republican events in recent months, is weighing a run for the U.S. Senate what would be eight years after his last race.
Now, though Donkeys and even some Elephants routinely tag Beauprez’ gubernatorial run as one of the worst Colorado campaigns in memory, subsequent endeavors have stolen that crown. (It is worn quite securely at this point by the GOP’s next nominee, Dan Maes, who set a new standard for terrible campaigns and nearly consigned Republicans to minor-party status.) Others point out that Beauprez fell prey to a still relatively nascent Democratic operation that is by now better known and, perhaps, more easily countered. What’s more, bad campaign management can always be replaced by a better team, an observation we also hear regarding a potential Schaffer sequel.
We would pass along the reaction of an anonymous Udall insider and a top Democrat or two, but at press time they hadn’t yet lifted their jaws from the floor. Expect the chatter to start up quickly, however, once you finish reading this.