10 August 2010

Colorado 2010 Primary Results

Michael Bennet has defeated Andrew Romanoff in the U.S. Senate primary by a 54-46 margin, despite trailing 47-53 in Denver and trailing in Boulder, two of the most heavily Democratic counties in the state, where Romanoff has deep political ties and long time loyal supporters. Romanoff's grass roots edge so evidence in Denver apparently didn't extend to other Democrat voters in the state. I had predicted that there wouldn't be a big gap between Denver and the rest of the state in this race, and that the rest of the state would mirror Denver's pro-Romanoff leanings, as was the case in the caucuses, but clearly, this prediction was incorrect. Outside Denver, President Obama's endorsement, TV ads paid for with a much larger pool of campaign funds, and the fact that his appointment to the vacancy created by Ken Salazar appointment as Interior Secretary by Governor Bill Ritter made him the incumbent clearly made a difference in the eyes of voters.

Fortunately, this was a race between two good, competent candidates who are in the middle of the Democratic party spectrum ideologically and neither man has made any fatal primary season fumbles. I favored Romanoff in the primary, but don't agree with those Democratic partisans who have argued that Bennet will be beholden to big business. Bennet may not be a future progressive caucus Senator, but Romanoff wouldn't have been one either, and neither man is a conservative Blue Dog Democrat. Bennet may lack Romanoff's rhetorical flair and charisma and Romanoff's political experience, but Bennet will be a reliable vote for the Democratic party if elected and is smart enough to have a firm understanding of the issues and options for dealing with them that come before him in the Senate, and will quickly learn the political ropes.

The Denver Post and 9News have called the Republican primary for Ken Buck rather than Jane Norton (sooner than I would in a reasonably close race). This is good news for Bennet, as Buck is probably the weaker general election candidate of the two GOP candidates because he is a less well funded, more conservative candidate and has a serious case of foot in mouth disease.

Republican Walker Stapleton, meanwhile appears to have cinched the privilege of facing Democrat Cary Kennedy in the general election race for state treasurer. Given his frequent no shows to campaign events in the primary, and Kennedy's incumbent status, he will have a long shot at winning in the general election.

Incumbent Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional district will be facing Ryan Frazier, in a race that based on party affiliation numbers would seem to be a winnable one, but based on prior election results in the district is one that Perlmutter is likely to win handily.

In the 3rd Congressional District, Republican Scott Tipton has won the privilege of losing to Blue Dog Democrat John Salazar, against a tea party primary opponent.

The GOP Gubernatorial race between Dan Maes and Scott McInnis is too close to call, and both candidates are spoiled by Tom Tancredo, a former Republican Congressman running on a third party ticket who has demanded that both men drop out of the race. As I post this, Maes leads by 2417 votes out of about 360,000, an edge just large enough to avoid a mandatory recount, with 89% of the vote counted. None of the three men has a prayer of defeating Democratic Party nominee John Hickenlooper in the general election race to be Colorado's governor.

For this reason, some influential Republicans are trying to convince the winner to resign in favor of ReMax founder Dave Liniger (and for Tom Tancredo to abandon the race), a candidate who has not tainted himself to the same extent as the other three contenders facing and who can also finance his own campaign. Liniger was one of the Republicans who lost to Pete Coors in an effort to capture to GOP nomination in the 2004 U.S. Senate race that was ultimately won by Democrat Ken Salazar.

Jane Norton, who was Governor Owens' Lieutenant Governor for four years, having narrowly lost the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate also offers an attractive option of Republicans as a nominee in the Governor's race if the winner of the primary (close enough that it may force a mandatory recount) can't be forced out. It is hard to imagine that she would accept a number two spot on the ticket in the Governor's race a second time, however.

All those machinations, however, depend upon the winner of the GOP primary in the race for Governor dropping out, something that both men have stubbornly insisted in public that they are unwilling to do.

Down ticket, Lucia Guzman has won her primary with Joel Judd to be the Democratic nominee in Senate District 34 (which includes Denver); Christana Duran has prevailed of Democrat Mark Thrun in Denver's House District 5; Angela Williams has won a three way primary in Denver's House District 7; and Dan Pabon has won a three way primary in Denver's House District 4. All these state legislative posts are safe Democratic party districts, so the winners are very likely to win in the general election.

Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, who prevailed over David Ruchman in the Democratic primary in suburban Denver Senate District 20, in contrast, will have to fight, as she has before, a pitched general election battle on her road to the state capitol where she has served before as a state representative.

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