Dan Caplis’ “two-whacks” Gardner theory

("This is getting creepy — he's Bob Schaffer all over again" – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

To the people who tell me I should get hazard pay for listening to conservative talk radio, I prove you wrong by offering this intelligent insight from KHOW radio host Dan Caplis, delivered during a discussion about why Rep. Cory Gardner would take on Sen. Mark Udall in November:

Caplis: "My guess is, there’s a big-picture plan in play, and if should Cory lose, and I think he will likely win, but nothing is for certain, the campaign keeps rolling into ’16 and he beats Michael Bennet… So I think Cory gets two whacks at it here."

Since I heard Caplis' "two-whacks" Gardner theory last month, I've shared it with the three people I know who've heard of Gardner and are already paying attention to the Senate race, and everyone nods their heads in enlightenment. Of course. So I've decided to share it here, with a big hat tip to Caplis.

On the radio, Caplis didn't get into the details on why Gardner would need two whacks, or even more, to win but it makes a ton of sense when you think about it.

First, there's the simple fact that Gardner is essentially an untested candidate, with no state-wide campaign experience, who's prevailed in safe elections in districts that welcome his far-right positions on everything the environment and Medicare and to women's issues and gay rights.

He was first launched into elected office with no election at all, after he was appointed in July 2005 to a State House seat (HD63) left vacant by Greg Brophy, who ran for state State Senate. The next year, Gardner ran unopposed in the Republican primary, and his Democratic opponent had no hope in the safe GOP district that voted 73 percent for Gardner. Two years later, in 2008, Gardner was completely unopposed in both the GOP primary and general election.

Gardner briefly faced a handful of GOP opponents when he first ran for Congress in 2010. But they failed to gain the requisite 30 percent at the District Assembly, where Gardner successfully positioned himself to the right of his competitors on personhood, gay rights, and even the posting of the 10 commandments in public buildings. His opponents dropped out, and Gardner was left unopposed at the primary ballot box.

Going into the general election, Gardner was the overwhelming favorite to defeat Rep. Betsy Markey, who was seen as lucky to be holding the seat at all in the conservative district. Democrats, you recall, seemed to be praying that a third-party candidate could somehow propel Markey to victory, but the prayers weren't answered, as Gardner won with 51 percent of the voter over Markey's 40 percent. And, oh yeah, 2010 was the big Tea-Party wave year.

Gardner himself was probably surprised that his CD4 seat actually got even more conservative due to the 2010 redistricting process, setting up Gardner to win re-election in 2012 with 56 percent of the vote.

When I first heard Caplis two-whacks theory, I didn't know all these details about Gardner's softball campaign history, but I still thought Caplis had it right just based on Udall's appeal and war chest, as well as all the uncertainty we see on the 2014 political landscape.

Everyone watching Gardner had this question in the back of their minds: Why would Gardner risk the end of his political career on one iffy election and, at the same time, forsake a political path that looked like it really could be heading toward Speaker of the House? Two whacks increases the odds and takes the pressure off.

But even with the two-whacks carrot, Caplis pointed out on air that really intense national pressure was required to push Gardner into the Senate race:

Caplis: I think what happened, my guess, is that there was so much pressure on Cory nationally because, as you know, the control of the U.S. Senate may very well depend on who wins this Colorado Senate seat.

This is quite a different story than what Gardner has been telling talk-radio audiences, that he decided to jump in the Senate race when he found out his health-insurance premium would jump due to Obamacare–a sob story that's been debunked.

Caplis' national-pressure explanation, coupled with his two-whacks theory, makes more sense than Gardner's. It's an example of how Caplis, in between repeating GOP talking points and obsessing on trivialities, provides a lot of political insight on his KHOW show.

19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Two wack theory does make sense. Don't think he'll prevail with either wack

  2. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    The two whacks theory makes a lot of sense. Gardner  is, after all, a whack job, and now we know he's a double-sized Whack Job!

  3. DawnPatrol says:

    Yet the pig remanins 'neath all the lipstick, one whack or two…

    Good luck with that, Baggers.

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    This is more like "Whack-a-Snipe-Mole".  He displayed little interest in his most challenged constituents when he represented just 1/7th of Colorado's population.  Why would we hand him the keys to the entire state?

  5. Early WormEarly Worm says:

    Another reason this makes sense: If Gardner runs a competent (though unsuccessful) campaign this year, he is the defacto best candidate for 2016.  Who is going to challange him? The Republican bench is so thin, even a recent loser (Tancredo, Bueprez, Buck) is better than anyone else.

  6. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    I think Udall will comfortably win. But Bennet will be a lot easier to beat. If Gardner learns from this and becomes a stronger candidate from the experience, he could well win 2½ years from now.

    • ct says:

      Other than your visceral dislike of the man, what do you base your analysis on?That aside, I think Bennet is a good legislator.  If he keeps the Senate (as chair of the DSCC) his stock increases rather than diminishes, including in Colorado.  

  7. roccoprahn says:

    Tells me how deep the red bench isn't.

    Usie the same dolt in 2 elections?

    Are you kidding me?

  8. Nasty Womanyameniye says:

    Reminds me of another of the whacky Republicans, Ryan Frazier and him being whacky against Perlumutter, and a bunch of other whacky campaigns.

  9. BoulderDem says:

    No, this doesn't make much sense. If he can't win in 2014, there's no bloody way he has a chance in 2016, in a Presidential year, coming off losing the same race and having no elected position. If he loses this year, he'll have loads of primary opposition in 2016 and will be swimming upstream against Hillary Clinton's turnout machine. This is an all-or-nothing bet (well, not really "nothing," as I'm sure he'll find a lucrative landing spot should Udall beat him).

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      The Koch machine will take very good care of him. 

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      It's not so much a question of whether it makes sense objectively as whether it makes sense as motivation, I think. Nobody's accused Republicans in Colorado of political genius for a pretty long time now. Think how weak their performance was in 2010 compared to their comrades elsewhere in that R wave year. And their comparatively poor performance goes back a lot farther than that. 

      If, as some say, the GOTP's chances of taking the Senate depend on taking Udall's seat, Colorado Rs will probably be a big disappointment to their comrades again in 2014.

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