2012 Primary Preview – Part 1 (CU Regent and State Senate)

(Interesting forecasts – promoted by Pita)

With just a few days left in Colorado’s 2012 Primary season, Let’s take a look at the battles that are being fought and where the players currently stand.

A few things to acknowledge up front first:

1) Ballots have been out and available for casting for a while now. Many of those likely to vote already have, and there may be little (if anything) besides GOTV that candidates can do to legitimately benefit or harm their campaigns.

2. I am not going to touch the federal races. There are already a million people doing analysis on these races and at least 95% of them know more about the dynamics of a federal race than I do.

3. I am going to spend more time on the races that are both interesting and important. For instance, it doesn’t really matter which Republican wins in HD4 because they have a 0% chance of beating Dan Pabon. And while there is technically a Republican primary in HD21, one of the candidates has only raised $500, while the other has brought in over $8000. So there really isn’t much analysis necessary.

That said, enjoy my little list. And feel free to jump in with your own knowledge and insight on the various races. The first batch covers the CU Regents race and State Senate races. I’ll catch up with the District Attorney and State House races before the weekend.  

CU Regent At-Large

GOP Matt Arnold vs GOP Brian Davidson

to take on DEM Stephen Ludwig

There has been plenty of coverage about the embarrassing display of self-destruction that is the Matt Arnold campaign. And it seems that Republicans are eager to rid themselves of Matt Arnold with enough time for voters to forget about him before November. Davidson has raised $37 to Arnolds $11k. But what’s more telling is the last two reporting periods. Davidson raised over $12k, while Arnold raised only $2k. Compare that to Feb-April, where Davidson raised $6k to Arnold’s $5.5 and you can see how much the tide has changed.

Bottom line: Expect Davidson to take this one in a landslide.

Senate District 8

GOP Rep. Randy Baumgardner vs incumbent GOP Sen. Jean White

to take on Dem. Emily Tracy

The first important thin to know about this race is that neither of the candidates has been elected to the seat before. Jean White was appointed to fill her husband’s seat when he resigned to work for Gov. Hickenlooper. The second is that this Senate district is dominated by Republicans, but motivated by moderates. Jean White was rated one of the most liberal members of the GOP caucus and voted with the Dems in favor of Civil Unions. She is also mopping the floor with Rep. Baumgardner in terms of fundraising. She’s raised $55k to his $21. This is a prime example of one of the few places where being a frothing-at-the-mouth, red-meat conservative doesn’t actually work for a GOP primary.

Correction: This paragraph was corrected to remove an inaccurate description of the geography of the distict.

Bottom Line: Expect White to win her first election and return to the Senate for a full term.

Senate District 10

GOP Rep. Larry Liston vs GOP Owen Hill

to take on… nobody. No democrat is running and the ACP candidate has yet to raise any money.

I really can’t describe this race any better than Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman did last month:

“Liston, a veteran lawmaker termed out of his House seat, faces an aggressive challenge by nonprofit executive Owen Hill in a bid to move up to the more rarified chamber. No newcomer to politics himself, Hill came within a few hundred votes of unseating Democratic Senate Majority Leader John Morse in a neighboring district in the last election and clobbered Liston at the GOP assembly, taking 64 percent of delegate votes to win top-line on the ballot. Are primary voters content with Liston’s business-friendly brand of Republicanism, or are they itching for the more confrontational style Hill would bring to the Capitol? As much as any race in the state, this contest could help define what direction the Colorado GOP takes in coming years.”

Liston has pulled ahead by quite a bit in fundraising since the above was written and seems to have the momentum to win it.

Bottom Line: Liston seems to everything going for him, but this is one that is tough to call. It could easily go either way.

Senate District 21

GOP Francine Bigelow vs GOP Matthew Plichta

to take on Dem. Jessie Ulibarri

This is one of those races that doesn’t really matter. Winning now simply means losing in the general election to Ulibarri, who has raised more in the last two weeks than the two GOP candidates have raised in the entire campaign… combined.

Bottom Line: Jessie Ulibarri has this one in the bag. The GOP candidates are just fighting for the chance to carry the conservative flag into the fire.

Senate District 23

GOP Rep. Glen Vaad vs. GOP Vicky Marble

to take on Dem. Lee Kemp

If you only looked at the fundraising, you might be tempted to think this race is neck-and-neck. But if you really want an indicator of who is going to win this race, simply google it. Go on, go type in “Colorado Senate District 28” right now. You will find pages upon pages of news, websites, and mentions of Vicki Marble and next to nothing about State Rep. Glen Vaad. And if you actually go to their websites (once you manage to find Vaad’s), you will find a mountain of big name endorsements for Marble, while Vaad a train-wreck of a website that offers little for the curious voter.



Bottom Line: Marble is running this race to win it, while Vaad doesn’t seem to know what’s about to hit him. I’m calling this one for the scrappy outside challenger.

Senate District 28

GOP John Lyons vs GOP Art Carlson

to take on Dem Nancy Todd

This race is interesting. It’s relatively low budget (Each of the candidates have raised less than $3000). But they are fighting it hard. Art Carlson has put his resources into yard signs, plastering every corner of the district. Meanwhile, Lyons is putting his money on paper, dropping lit at doors and targeted mailboxes. But with so little for either to spend, awareness among voters is likely low. In the end though, whoever wins will be looking forward to taking on State Rep. Nancy Todd and her warchest of $23,000, and that’s after she officially kicked off her campaign just two weeks ago.

Bottom Line: As much fuss as Rep. Nancy Todd has been making over this race and trying to paint it as “competitive”, it simply isn’t. At least not with the candidates that the GOP has managed to offer up. Neither of the GOP challengers is getting any kind of support from the larger party or from anyone else, really, and Todd’s name ID alone gives her a massive advantage. Rep. Todd will be Sen. Todd soon enough. No one who seriously looks at HD28 can expect anything but a decisive win for the Democrats.

Senate District 35

Dem. Crestina Martinez vs. Dem. Armando Valdez

to take on GOP Larry Crowder

The one and only Democratic Party Primary in this post and one of only 5 statewide. The money is weird. Martinez has outraised Valdez by 3-1, but she’s not spending it. She’s spent only $3k on the race while Valdez has spent over $8k. When I asked some people I know in ther area to explain the told me that Valdez is simply not performing at any level that presents a threat to Martinez’s campaign, so she’s saving up her money for the General Election. Hopefully, for her sake, that doesn’t prove to be a mistake. That said, I hope that, if Valdez does lose in this race, that he comes back and runs for something again one day. He is a smart, well-spoken young man with a lot of potential. And the people of Southern Colorado would do well to use him o the fullest of that potential.

Bottom Line: Martinez won by nearly 20 points at the County Assembly and seems poised to win big again next Tuesday. But with so little money being moved, anything could happen.  

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Tom says:

    Vaad is something of an immoveable rock politically speaking. He’s been squatting on his portion of southwest Weld ever since he was a county commissioner, likely because of his connections as an elder at the Lifebridge megachurch in Longmont.

    Marble seems to have a more professional campaign, but she has to overcome the sheer inertia of so many conservatives that are used to voting for Vaad. He’s pretty much a non-entity outside of his old constituency, so Marble probably has this in the bag unless turnout is shockingly low in the more urban areas of the district.

    • sxp151 says:

      Maybe you’re just cranky?

      • But it’s incoherent because it’s so wrong. None of it is based on anything real. It’s all just pulled out of his ass.

        Maybe incoherent is the wrong word. Complete and utter bullshit might be more apropos.

        • Danny the Red (hair)Danny the Red (hair) says:

          I think it is quite cogent.  

          On the races I know something about, I generally agree. On the ones I don’t, the arguments are sound.

          • Maybe some of his conclusions are right, but it’s not because of anything real.

            Vicki Marble is going to win because she’s tied in fundraising and her website is better? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. You think the likely voter in a Republican State Senate district primary is checking websites and social media for campaign updates? I would bet the average voter in that race is probably 70. Turnout has been awful everywhere except for El Paso County, so I would be shocked if a virtually unknown candidate like Marble wins. If she does, it won’t be because her website is pretty, it will be because she out-conservatived Vaad.

            If Marble wins, it will be a huge upset, and it’s highly unlikely she does. Vaad isn’t particularly well known outside Weld, but he’s been attached at the hip to Shawn Mitchell for about a year now, and that is a very good thing in that district.

            He includes the SD-21 primary, as well as the primary to take on Nancy Todd, which are both foregone conclusions. The only reason Todd has been saying it’s going to be tough is because…. what the hell else is she supposed to say? She still has to raise money, and people are unlikely to donate if she says that she’s going to win it in a walk. Something tells me that Mr. Bateman has some other reason to get a dig in at Nancy Todd. No clue what that could possible be….

            The Liston-Hill analysis is 90% a quote from a reporter.

            He’s not insanely wrong on White-Baumgardner, but that race has been covered fairly extensively, so other than looking stuff up on TRACER, I don’t see anything particularly insightful there.

            He doesn’t even include three of the most contentious, interesting primaries in the state: Todd-Melton (excluded for obvious reasons, I suppose) Looper-Stephens, and Houck-Labuda.

            All-in-all, it just wreaks of a post that pretends to be inside information, but with very little substance.

            • rathmone says:

              you can’t write this:

              “I am going to spend more time on the races that are both interesting and important. For instance, it doesn’t really matter which Republican wins in HD4 because they have a 0% chance of beating Dan Pabon.”

              …and then leave out the 3 primary races PYT mentioned above- that ones are actually, objectively interesting. That, and he is wrong about SD8: mustache-ID is tremendous.

            • AndrewBateman says:

              I didn’t include those races because they are house races and this was a post about senate races (and the CU Regent race). It says so right up front.

              If its obvious that you haven’t bothered to read the entry, your criticism of it becomes somewhat questionable itself.

              That said, I don’t pretend to have any “inside information”. This is only one observer’s perspective.  

  2. Gray in Mountains says:

    but, Baumgardner is well known and liked in Grand where his daddy is a commissioner. the western part of this district is pretty conservative (in the more nutty way)

  3. Craig says:

    Used to be in Jeffco, but I don’t recognize either of the names so must have moved.  Where it it?

  4. The realistThe realist says:

    There is NO part of Boulder (City or County) in SD8.  Perhaps the writer and some commenters should first figure out what counties are in SD8, then offer their wise comments.  

    And this statement:  ” . . . this Senate district is dominated by Republicans.”  It is no more dominated by Republicans than it is dominated by unaffiliated voters.

  5. Not Dame Edna says:

    We have a primary against an incompetent incumbent and it doesn’t even make this list. Wow.

    Corrie has out walked, out called and is actively out contacting the voters here. Mostly with volunteers, unlike the incumbent, who had to loan herself money and hire out help because she has chased off all past volunteers with her bizarre behavior.

    Her campaign accuses Houck of dirty campaigning when her lone loyal volunteer, former Representative Fran Coleman, was witnessed stealing yard signs. Over 100 Houck signs have gone missing. Who is playing dirty?

  6. AndrewBateman says:

    Look, I don’t claim to be an expert on all of these races, but no one else is covering it, so I took a shot.

    I spent a couple of days doing research in my free time and put together the elements that I thought were significant and interesting. If someone disagrees on what was included or the conclusions I have drawn, they should ether add their two cents here or write their own analysis entirely.

    There are bound to be flaws, both in this write up, as well as the follow up I plan to post tomorrow on the State House and DA races. By all means, point them out. And as I said before, if someone thinks they are better qualified to write it, than they should go right ahead and do so, but someone should be writing about these races, all of them. Not just the couple that are getting constant attention, like HD19.  

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