Archive for category Senate 2010
There’s a saying among pilots: Plan your flight, and fly your plan. If you’ve done your homework beforehand, your plan is the surest way out of trouble and to your destination.
Nevertheless, any good flight plan includes alternatives in the case of, say, unexpected headwinds.
For several months, it has been clear that the Democrats’ closing argument was going to be about abortion and birth control. With the economy still in the tank, and foreign policy not a top-line issue for most voters, there was no place else for them to turn. Now that foreign policy has turned obviously and embarrassingly sour, all the moreso.
The demographic reasons for this are obvious – abortion and “free” contraception are largely issues for younger, single women, and the “gender gap” is as much as “marriage gap” as anything. The Democrats know that the best way to get a woman to start voting Republican is for her to get married (which also probably explains about 95% of “Julia”).
The Democrats knew this at the beginning of the year, when George Stephanopolous asked Mitt Romney repeatedly about states banning contraception in that debate, and when the HHS issued its mandate that employers buy contraception for their women employees.
They knew this because they were trying to replicate the success that Michael Bennet had here in Colorado in 2010, winning re-election to his Senate seat in a Republican year, and doing it by beating his Republican opponent Ken Buck up on abortion. Guy Cecil – his campaign manager and now head of the DSCC – repeatedly said so. Bennet himself said so at the DNC, and more recently when introducing Joe Biden up in Greeley. The NY Times said so. Rachel Maddow said so. From the beginning of the year, they’ve made no secret of the fact by this point in the election cycle the cries of “contraception” and “abortion” would be so loud you couldn’t hear the math.
My wife used to be a registered Democrat, and so ends up getting almost all the Democrat mailers. Four mailers, all about abortion and contraception.
And it’s not just the race for president where the Dems have adopted this carpet-bombing strategy. The only ads I’ve seen attacking incumbent Republican Congressmen Scott Tipton and Mike Coffman have centered on abortion and contraception.
The problem is, it’s not working.
Yes, there’s still a gender gap, but with women only giving Obama a slight plurality, and men overwhelmingly supporting Romney, the numbers just don’t seem to be there for the Democrats at the Presidential level. And if this is their primary attack in Senate races – so far, I’ve seen it used in Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut (with a woman Republican nominee), Montana, North Dakota, and of course, Missouri – there’s good reason to think the Dems are setting themselves up to lose the Senate, too.
To return to the flight metaphor, the Democrats are flying their plan, but they didn’t count on those headwinds, and they’re now running out of fuel without any alternate airports around. They have no alternative strategy except to continue to amp up the volume, with cries of “Romnesia” by the President, and the possibility of a an October Surprise not in Iran or Libya, but by Gloria Allred. I’d be surprised if that works, mostly because it’s already been factored into people’s votes.
The Democrats are flying their plan, but instead of remaining engaged, looking for alternatives, staying abreast of the weather reports, they’re flying it on auto-pilot.
Which as any pilot will tell you, is a great way to not reach your destination.
Finally, the bad blood on the Democrat side of the ledger is getting some attention.
The U.S. Senate Democratic primary campaign turned confrontational Saturday when about 100 supporters of Andrew Romanoff turned up at a campaign event for his opponent, Sen. Michael Bennet.
The Romanoff backers chanted and tried to interrupt the event, a news conference called by Bennet to slam his opponent for stooping to a deceptive attack campaign instead of focusing on issues.
While Romanoff’s ad is politics-as-usual (a strategy not without its own risks), showing up to disrupt your opponent’s press conferences is reminiscent of something else.
I’ve said before to my Republican friends that the Democrats have all the same problems that we do, we just don’t often see them because we’re on the outside looking in on that drama, and we’re also very wrapped up on our own soap opera. But even as we’re busy sorting out our own nomination, it can be instructive to see how the other side is behaving.
In this morning’s Denver Post, Mike Littwin manages to display simultaneously the insularity and smugness of the One Party media, as well as one of the last tools left in the left’s rather empty playbook.
Apparently, during a Senate debate at Channel 12, Jane Norton said, “We need a NASA budget that doesn’t cater to making Muslims feel good but that is strong on science …” This scandalized Littwin, who assumed it was a cheap shot at Muslims. Evidently, he hadn’t seen the video that’s been making the rounds on the conservative and libertarian blogosphere:
Remarkably, instead of conceding that we’re paying all those scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats to actually achieve, or at least facilitate achievement, in space, Littwin uses his and the rest of the MSM reporters’ ignorance of the interview as evidence that the argument was out of place, and then goes straight for the race card:
When I read the stories, I remembered hearing something about it. But when I showed Norton’s quote to several people up on the news — but not necessarily up on Fox News — they each registered a blank.
That suggests something we already knew: that we get our news these days from different places. What it doesn’t tell us, though, is why Norton thought the story was worth mentioning at all.
Presumably Norton meant to say “Muslim countries” rather than all “Muslims,” including those who might live, say, next door. I guess that’s still up for debate.
For the record, I’m as proud as anyone of Ilan Ramon, but his presence on the shuttle should have been incidental to its mission, not actually its mission. Also for the record, I’m with Bill Whittle when he lauds NASA’s retreat to make room for a more sustainable private space program.
A few years ago, at an LPR session, Littwin told me that reporters were well aware of the blogosphere, that they spent tons of time reading blogs in an effort to understand this new media. Seems they manage to miss HotAir, Powerline, Pajamas Media, Instapundit.
The line of argument, to the extent that there is one, is that since Littwin hadn’t seen the video, Norton may be a bigot. In a year when the left’s traditional arguments appear to have run out of steam, there’s one they think they can reliably return to, time and again. The Journo-list extracts over at Daily Caller indicate the power that the accusation of racism once had, and that the left still thinks it has. But with the country having elected a black president, answering a cry of “read the Constitution” with “you must be racist” is increasing falling on deaf ears.
Those who thought that Obama’s presidency might herald a post-racial era may yet be right. Just not exactly how they thought.
Despite the fact that this is a legal decision, not a political one, I do believe that it will have at least one positive political effect.
Go ahead, tell me you didn’t feel deflated last night. No, you’re lying. I read your comments on Facebook and on the blogs and on the newspaper sites. I know what you were thinking: France called, they want their statue back.
Now, tell me you don’t at least have a little hope that we can pull back from the precipice. That week-long planned media celebration of historic achievements is stopped cold, even before the bill is signed into law.
Tell me you don’t feel better now than you did 4 hours ago.
As part of the caucus process this year, both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado included a non-binding straw poll, essentially a test of grass roots strength among the candidates. Not surprisingly, the activitst-friendly candidates did well. Andrew Romanoff took about 50% of the vote to Senator Bennet’s 41% on the Democratic side. For the Republicans, Dan Maes got 40% of the vote to Scott McInnis’s 60%, which will probably be interpretes as a win for Maes, and Ken Buck barely edged out Jane Norton by 25 votes, which will certainly be considered a win for him.
How much does it matter? It’s hard to say. On the Democrat side, it may help boost Romanoff’s heretofore anemic fundraising. I have no insight as to whether or not folks were electing delegates based on their Senate preferances, though. For the Republicans, I suspect there’s a strong correlation between not supporting Jane Norton and supporting Dan Maes. This matters, because for the most part, people didn’t have to choose between delegates for Senate and delegates for Governor. It means that if Maes decided to continue on after convention (assuming he can’t make up the difference), he’ll go in as an underdog, but not a massive one. And it says that McInnis still faces significant discontent within his own party.
This suggests that the Colorado governor’s race is beginning to look a little like last year’s Presidential race. Hickenlooper is playing the part of Obama, positioning himself as a reasonable moderate, atlhough he’s actually quite liberal. McInnis is playing the part of McCain, the presumptive nominee that the party really doesn’t quite buy as being conservative enough. For all his harping on “unity,” McInnis is going to find that line increasingly irrelevant. And Dan Maes is playing the role of The Field: in addition to his own support, he’s picking up the protest vote against McInnis.
This doesn’t mean that things will play out the same way at all. Obama was running with a favorable political environment, Hickenlooper has to overcome the current distrust of the Democrats. McInnis is certainly more conservative than McCain. And Maes is a single individual, meaning that someone who votes for him is less likely to switch to McInnis down the line, if there’s a primary.
As for the Senate race, Tom Wiens and Cleve Tidwell were both banking on a strong showing at caucus, and didn’t get it. Fairly or unfairly, the race really narrows down to two candidates, and the question is whether or not, at or after state convention, Wiens’s and Tidwell’s supporters will split up or coalesce behind Buck. And while Norton has worked hard to court the activists and the Tea Partiers, it may not be enough this year.
Of course, there’s no real precedent for correlating straw poll support with election performance. In 2008, the only straw poll was at the presidential level, and Romney, the winner in Colorado, dropped out a few days later. The straw poll results will almost certainly correlate more strongly with County Assembly results – and thus with State Convention results – than with the broader party electorate in a primary. And a lot can happen at County. A disciplined voting bloc can win a disproportionate number of delegates.
It seems as though at least two of these stories are connected, with the possibility that Ritter was using his personal cellphone for state business, and then shielding that usage from public scrutiny in order to hide his affair. Of course, it could also be that he’s not enjoying the job, isn’t very good at it, and has had enough. We’ll know more tomorrow.
From the Republican side, the assumption is that CoDA has already named his successor in the race, and that it will be either for House Speaker Andrew Romanoff or Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, both of whom have fairly high positives and a campaign base to draw from in heavily-Democrat Denver. Ross Kaminsky analyzes the options here. It’s a good piece, but I think he gives Romanoff too little credit, and Hickenlooper too much.
Romanoff is already a statewide figure, with connections on the western slope and down south that Hickenlooper doesn’t really have. He was in the process of running a statewide race, and now won’t have the sitgma of attacking a sitting Democrat. On the other hand, he’s been running to Bennet’s left in this race, and now owns those positions, which might undermine his reputation as a moderate consensus-builder. And he was the father of the failed Amendment 59, which would have gutted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to fund the Teachers Unions.
Hickenlooper, on the other hand, has a Denver handicap that Romanoff has already overcome. Denver doesn’t scale well to the rest of the state. It bears roughly the same relationship to the eastern plains, the high country, and the western slope that NYC has to upstate and Long Island – people don’t much trust Denver. They may well vote against a Denver mayor more quickly. There’s a reason that Colorado governors come from the legislature, and not from the Denver mayor’s office.
Denver mayors have more power than Colorado governors when it comes to budgeting, which might actually strengthen the argument for a fiscally conservative Republican legislature, in a year when there are any number of already-vulnerable Dems. Denver isn’t a basket-case, to be sure. But it has benefitted greatly from the Democrats’ car tax in order to stay sane. If Hickenlooper is the nominee, Republican City Councilman Jeanne Fatz will probably become veyr popular very quickly as a speaker on hidden lunacy in Denver’s budget. And Denver’s share of the Stimulus Money will also come under closer scrutiny.
There’s an assumption that either Romanoff or Hickenlooper would make things harder on a Denver Republican party struggling to recover from years of decline. But if Hickenlooper is the nominee, the focus on his record from the McInnis campaign may actually end up helping us out.
So my money’s on CoDA nominating their old bag man, Romanoff.
BREAKING: Tom Wiens has formally filed papers as a candidate for the US Senate race here in Colorado.
Quickly noted: Wiens appears to have great confidence in his ability to fundraise competitively with Jane Norton, and he has deep ties to the party activists who have been frequent caucus-goers and state Assembly delegates. He has strength in El Paso and Douglas Counties, both Republican strongholds. All of this helps him in the primary.
Whether or not the Dems can successfully portray him as “too conservative” is open to question, but I’m sure that will be their line of attack.
A couple of notes on the race for the Republican nomination. First of all, despite the headline – and the weight of the party’s senior ex-officeholders – former Lt. Gov. Norton did win the straw poll, but did not “clobber” her opponents. Mrs. Norton will no doubt point out that she hadn’t had much time to organize for the straw poll, and yet still came out first. Her opponents will note that this should have been, in many ways, her natural constituency, the old-line party activists, and that she got barely 1/3 of the vote. So while her assumed fundraising prowess still makes her the odds-on favorite, it appears that this race has some room yet to run, and that she’ll have to earn it.
Evidence that she knows that came Thursday night at a meeting of the R Block Party, a group of mostly Arapahoe County- and Centennial-based activists. While there was some grumbling that she didn’t stick around for questions, the mere fact that she showed up indicates that she understands she’ll have to court the new activists that last year’s elections generated, and can’t simply rely on the old guard to dominate the caucuses they way they have in the past. (For the record, the only candidate for Senate or Governor who didn’t show up or send a representative was…Scott McInnis.)
For the moment, the favorite of the new activists still seems to be Ryan Frazier, who performed well at Wednesday’s Liberty on the Rocks South Metro, and seemed to have a lot of fans at the R Block Party as well. Still, Norton’s bearing and presence seemed more senatorial; whether that bears up under tough questioning remains to be seen.
It’s good to know that it’s not only Republicans who are dealing with out-of-staters eager to pick winners:
President Barack Obama endorsed U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet today, throwing the force of the White House into a Democratic primary battle that officially is just over a day old.
The direct endorsement of a president still enormously popular among progressive voters is perhaps the biggest hammer that national Democrats can bring to Bennet’s primary battle against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, and they wasted no time in wielding it.
Does this make sense? Only if it works. Rumors had abounded that Romanoff had about $1.5 million (roughly 0.0001% of Obama’s deficit spending) ready to come on board, and to make him immediately competitive. Certainly Romanoff wasn’t going to be able to run to Bennet’s left, but the endorsement of The Big Leftie himself probably gives Bennet some room to move to the center if he has to. Of course, the primary is 11 months from now, and who know what Obama’s endorsement will be worth by then.
With Jane Norton’s entry into the Colorado Senate Race, Rasmussen has test-polled her against both Sen. Ben. and Romanoff. (No word on whether or not the controversies over Obama’s czars is hurting Andrew). It turns out she polls better than either Frazier or Buck against the Senator Select, leading 45-36, and beating Romanoff 42-34. Norton does well, 52-21, among unaffiliated voters, but that’s a very fluid voter bloc, given the high number of undecideds there.
Some of this, however, may be a result of polling sample. Last week, Rasmussen had Bennet’s very favorable-to-very unfavorable levels at 14-18, but this poll has them at 8-19. It’s hard to believe that Bennet has really suffered that much deterioration in one week – especially in numbers that are so low in absolute terms to begin with. The new sample also has Romanoff down 8 points, 12-20, in the very-favorable-to-very-unfavorable rating, which is just hard to believe given his general popularity when he left office earlier this year. Do people remember his active campaigning for his doomed baby, Amendment 59?
Norton certainly has higher name recognition than Frazier or Buck. All three are right at break-even in the Veries, but Buck is at 9-7 (16 total) and Frazier at 6-6 (12 total), while Norton polls 13-12. There’s no question that Bennet’s negatives are higher than his positives, but a sitting Senator with any sort of a record should have generated stronger feelings, especially in this political environment. As with Ritter, the election should be a referendum on the incumbent, but count on the SEIU and CODA to try to define all three Republicans simultaneously as right wing-nuts. Given that the public hasn’t really formed impressions of them yet, there’s plenty of room for them to prey on the uninformed.
Yet to be included in any Rasmussen poll is Tom Wiens. I spoke with Tom before the show on Sunday night, and he seemed very confident that he could compete with Norton in fundraising. The question is, can he compete with Bennet in the general for votes, or is he simply not electable outside of his base in the Springs?
UPDATE: A friend of mine from elsewhere in the state reminds me of another part of my conversation with Tom Wiens before the show Sunday evening. Tom stressed that he has extraordinarily good relationships with delegates from across the state, and that he expects to do very well at the state convention. While unlikely to win 70% there, an extremely strong showing could be enough to propel him through the primary in August. One caveat to this strategy is that, between higher caucus participation and the as-yet-unpredictable straw poll, it maybe harder for the traditional party caucus-goers to dominate the proceedings.
While it’s the official position of the Republican Party that all candidates are welcome, and that primaries make for stronger candidates, I do happen to believe those things. It’s a long road, people, and the raw poll numbers right now don’t mean much.