Bennet Scramble to Show Democratic Bonafides Too Little, Too Late

The campaign of Sen. Michael Bennet is doing everything it can to show Democrats that Bennet is a strong health care reform supporter who supports the public option. Reaching out to proactively show Democrats that Bennet is firmly behind the public option is a great way to garner support from the left.

It’s just two months too late.

The entry of former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff into the U.S. Senate race was the absolute worst-case scenario for Bennet, and while it’s impossible to know if Bennet could have prevented Romanoff from mounting a primary challenge, he should damn well have done everything in his power to prevent it from happening. Sure, Bennet has raised a ton of money, but in a Democratic primary where Romanoff will start with significantly greater name ID, the latter needs only to be able to raise enough money to be competitive. Romanoff doesn’t need to outspend Bennet, or even come close, because he is so much more well-known and liked among Democratic primary voters.

But we digress…


Bennet’s urgency now at letting people know he supports the public option is just one part of two major Democratic measures that have served as a litmus test of sorts. The other issue, of course, is Bennet’s refusal to lay out a position on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). While EFCA is not something that the average voter is likely to care much about, it is a very important issue that many Democrats have used to gauge just what kind of “Democrat” Bennet might be in the Senate.

As The Denver Post opined today:

His silence on a few contentious issues, such as the Employee Free Choice Act, prompted Republicans to deride him as “Silent Senator Bennet.”

But we don’t think Sen. Michael Bennet’s silence was for lack of an opinion; rather, he was hoping to stave off a primary challenger from his left, knowing it could prove to be costly both politically and financially. His war chest – more than $2 million raised in nine months – also was meant to ward off all comers.

Bennet obviously didn’t want to take a public position on EFCA, for the unwarranted fear that he would alienate too many people. But by not taking a position on this key issue, Bennet signaled to many Democrats — including a key base in organized labor — that he might not be there for them on key Democratic issues. In other words, Bennet took a position even by not taking a position, and that’s why he now finds him self in the position of facing a difficult primary battle.

All of this could, and should, have been avoided if Bennet would have stopped the hand-wringing from the beginning and just used his political noodle. As we’ve written repeatedly, there was never any real downside to supporting EFCA. In fact, that theory was proven by Mark Udall when he was campaigning last year for the Senate. Certain business groups spent millions attacking Udall over his prior support for EFCA, but those ads proved about as effective as a toilet paper condom. Udall crushed Republican Bob Schaffer in the general election, which shows — again — how this was never going to be an issue that would have hurt Bennet in a general election.

There was a time, perhaps, when Democrats would be making the smart political move by trying to disguise their every opinion in order to appear more moderate. But that was also a time when Republicans controlled everything. If Bennet ends up losing the Democratic nomination to Romanoff, he’ll have nobody to blame but himself (and whoever advised him to be so overly cautious on policy issues).

If Bennet had come out early for the public option and supported EFCA in some form — even if just a promise to vote for cloture, which is all Udall has done — then there’s a good chance that Romanoff never would have had the groundswell of support behind him to justify a primary challenge. Sure, Bennet would have then made himself slightly (though not significantly) more vulnerable in a general election, but it’s better to be a little more vulnerable in November than to never make it to November at all.


63 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. north metro man says:

    Perhaps this scramble is also a result of what happened at the Broomfield Democrat’s Carter Dinner this past Saturday and the subsequent coverage on MSNBC:

    I heard that Romanoff was there, Bennet, not.

    • twas brillig says:

      Bennet has been talking about a public option for weeks. The position didn’t change over the weekend. It’s just that some people don’t stay up to date on issues, even if they are “passionate” about them.  

      • Libertad says:

        .. he’s also been talking about no public option to corporate and business groups all summer.  That shit has a tendancy to catch up with you.

      • The realistThe realist says:

        has been fairly recent.  It’s interesting to note that his support for the public option is quite visible (through videos) on his website, but when you look under the Issues link (where Health Care is one of six issues), there does not seem to be any mention of the public option (unless I just missed it).  Instead, the language is more general, such as:

        “We owe it to today’s families and to the next generation to find a fiscally responsible way to make quality health care affordable and accessible.  That is why I support President Obama’s efforts to bring individuals, medical providers, insurance companies, and employers to the same table to achieve a consensus on how we are going to approach this enormous problem.  

        Although I am open to considering a number of options, I believe that we must move forward guided by a few basic principles:

        If you like your current health insurance and your current doctor, then you should be able to keep them.

        Patients should be able to pick their health insurance and doctor.

        We must control the dramatic increases in health care costs that are crippling families and small businesses.

        People should be able to keep their insurance when they change jobs and health insurance companies should be prohibited from denying care based on preexisting conditions.”

  2. wade norris says:


    Romanoff has name ID with every democratic primary voter, and favorability, and he has good numbers with Republicans.

      • wade norris says:

        Romanoff has been known throughout the state for 8 years plus

        and he has been actively speaking at county party dinners all across the state from Denver to Canon city to Greeley to the western slope.

        the dems know him.

        the dems that know Bennet may have been growing fonder of him recently, but he was not their pick – the voters i have talked to wanted either Romanoff or Perlmutter (and a couple of other names)

        i am sure the polling from Nate Silver or PPP or somewhere else soon will back me on this.

        • twas brillig says:

          If we could find any pollster who would tell you that a poll isn’t necessary to measure Name Rec, it would definitely be PPP’s!

          Meanwhile, back at the ranch, name recognition is itself a measure that is the product of polling. So saying that no polling is needed to understand someone’s name recognition is…baffling.

          • Libertad says:

            Romanoff isn’t even in yet and you are so defensive; it hurts my feelings when you rebuke wade and the others in such a manner.

            Square up.  Romanoff is one of the shining leaders of the Party and as Bennet said..

            “Obviously it’s up to Andrew,” Bennet said. “In this democracy, anybody certainly has the right to run for office. Andrew has had a terrific career in the Colorado legislature … .

            • twas brillig says:

              Wade has a long-standing habit of making shit up and stringing together nonsensical assertions. Bugs me.

              You are mostly just yanking people’s chains to hilarious effect.  Wade, on the other hand, embraces Bush’s theory of “catapulting the propaganda,” and I don’t think that has a place in Democratic politics.  

        • Ralphie says:

          Right, Wade?

          no polling needed

          Romanoff has been known throughout the state for 8 years plus

    • dlof says:

      But, you’re cards are showing here.  You went right to Draft Andrew mode upon Bennet’s appointment.  No hesitation, no time to give the guy a chance.  You’re in the tank for him, which is fine, he’s a great guy, and IMHO should have been chosen over Bennet, but…

      Bennet’s proven he can raise funds, and until Andrew can do a $1M quarter, Bennet’s got my support.

      Bennet has been squirrelly about EFCA, and I am upset with his refusal to take a position, but he did come right out against PiГ±on Canyon expansion, and he’s been publicly saying that he would support single payer if he thought there was ANY way he could get it through the Senate (e.g., July 3, Ft. Collins).

      Andrew’s not even officially in, and you’re running around blathering about Andrew forcing Bennet to do this or that (e.g., this revision of reality at DailyKos).

      Seriously, man, quit it.  Andrew’s a great guy, and he’s someone I’d be proud to have represent me in the Senate, but I’ll take Bennet until Andrew can give me a reason (anecdotal name ID within the party faithful don’t count), I’m going to hang onto my cards.  You’re not doing him any favors with stuff like that DailyKos post.

      • twas brillig says:

        I’m (almost) surprised Wade isn’t dumb enough to cross post that piece of shit over here.

        • wade norris says:

          here saturday

          the only thing that has changed since then is that others besides me, from the editors Colorado pols and the Denver post are now seeing the viability of Romanoff’s primary.

          and I have not and have never been in ‘the tank’ for Romanoff.

          if you look at the history of the comments, I am in the ‘tank’ for representative govt.

          Romanoff was the name i heard the most from the public – and he was out of office – others would have been fine if Ritter had picked them – Perlmutter, DeGette etc.

          The difference between me and you TB is that I am anticipating the primary while you are denying it and attacking me.

        • wade norris says:

          here saturday

          the only thing that has changed since then is that others besides me, from the editors Colorado pols and the Denver post are now seeing the viability of Romanoff’s primary.

          and I have not and have never been in ‘the tank’ for Romanoff.

          if you look at the history of the comments, I am in the ‘tank’ for representative govt.

          Romanoff was the name i heard the most from the public – and he was out of office – others would have been fine if Ritter had picked them – Perlmutter, DeGette etc.

          The difference between me and you TB is that I am anticipating the primary while you are denying it and attacking me.

          • dlof says:

            We saw the initial post, but it was not the same thing you posted to Kos: that Bennet is making statements today, different from a couple weeks ago, because Romanoff’s going to enter the race. You’re straining credibility.

            Anyway, thank you for taking the lead in supporting Andrew! I’m all for this primary, and your histrionics are entertaining.

            • wade norris says:

              i don’t know what to make of this: maybe you can make sense of this statement:


              In a downtown Denver room full of business suits, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet Monday had a tough sell on a health care reform plan that includes a public option.

              But he told the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s membership that reform is not based on a public option, despite his belief that reform should include a public option for those who can’t obtain private insurance. The senator acknowledged that there are several ideas on the table and that a public option is not the be-all and end-all.


              I know he was in front of the Business Chamber, so I can give him some leeway for this statement – which mirrors the same kind of statement Obama made prior to the Congressional break.

              It is tough to answer to the people and to the business money at the same time.

              Maybe it can’t be done on this issue.

              But if it can’t on this issue, then what the hell are we going to do on the Climate Change issue?

              I am sorry, but someone has got to step up to the Oil and Gas industry and tell them the truth and not back down.

              Is that Bennet?

              don’t know.

              Is it Romanoff?

              don’t know, but at least a primary will get them on record for the youtubes to get a chance at real reform.

  3. wade norris says:

    when are you changing the Big line to reflect some of the changes in the races?

      • wade norris says:

        odds are spot on or off some?

        I think Romanoff will be able to beat Norton, mostly because of her Tax supporting background.

        Romanoff will be able to say he was an ‘across the aisle’ guy with Owens – which he was.

        • redstateblues says:

          I assume that the odds are for the primary, rather than the general, and they just pull them out of their asses anyway, so I don’t worry too much about them. The Big Line is just a fun way of looking at the races, and I never really take it seriously.

          Having said that, you just wrote a diary complaining about Bennet being a “conservadem”. Isn’t “working across the aisle” AKA bipartisanship, a big part of why progressive Dems are pissed at Bennet and Udall right now? “Reached out to and worked with Bill Owens” isn’t exactly hardcore Democratic activists want to see on a campaign ad or leaflet. I don’t see that as a real strong argument for why the activists should support him over Bennet. IMHO it’s just another bullet point of how they are similar politicians.

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            Owens wasn’t exactly a prototypical Republican.  He understood the pickle the state was in when he supported Ref. C. and made a rational if politically suicidal decision to do what was best for his state.  Owens would trounce Ritter if he ran but luckily for Ritter the Repugs will nominate someone with less skill, less personality and less intelligence to lead their “He’s a liberal” charge.  Some people like Ritter are born under a lucky star where talent is less important than timing.  Romanoff was fortunate to work in the legislature after John Andrews stunk up the place so he also seems to be in possession of some Lucky Charms.

            • redstateblues says:

              Hell, I voted for the man in 2002 [braces for oncoming barrage of rotten vegetables]

              And yeah, he would trounce Ritter, but most of my progressive friends are not fans of Owens–though they supported C and D like Owens did.

              All I was saying was that both Romanoff and Bennet are adept at reaching across the aisle to find common ground. In this campaign it will be all about how they’re different, and this is one area where they are quite similar.

    • Ralphie says:

      How about taking a few carriage returns out of your sig line so that your posts don’t scroll off the page?

      If you did that, I might be tempted to read one or two of them.

  4. BlueCat says:

    Just what is Romanoff’s position on card check?  On public option?  I’m googling and not finding anything terribly enlightening.

    Name rec is a big plus but so are tons of money and support from the big guns.  Back when Bennet wasn’t on anyone’s short list, Romanoff was being touted as a great fit to support our close to center president as a kindred spirit, an asset in making deals across the aisle from a practical rather than extremely ideological point of view.

    That’s not far from what is becoming the Bennet image, to the extent he has one. Though we know Romanoff is a talented legislator, Bennet has zero experience and has not had time to establish whether he’s any good or not. So there is that.

    Other than that, is it possible that the passion in the base for Romanoff is a tad misplaced? Is there any solid reason to believe Romanoff is particularly stronger on base issues?  

  5. Republican 36 says:

    I supported Mr. Romanoff in his bid for appointment to the U.S. Senate seat but I don’t think there is any evidence that he has higher name ID than Senator Bennett at this moment. He is certainly, and rightfully so, popular with the activist Democrats in Colorado but whether that tanslates into a primary victory is anything but certain.  

    There is also another factor which will become part of the equation. If he needs it, Senator Benneett I believe has a great deal of personal wealth which he could utilize in the primary.

    What we are witnessing is a burst of enthusiam for Mr. Romanoff from the activist core of the Democrat Party but that certainly doesn’t mean the Democratic primary voters have made-up their collective mind to vote for him next August.  

  6. daunteblue says:

    I can see both sides and Romanoff is a worthy candidate.  But this instant pile on against Bennet by haters who are still bitter at Ritter’s appointment decision about how “Bennent isn’t progressive enough” is a load of BS. Bennet has been working hard for Coloradan’s and Democratic principles since he was sworn in.  Next step for some is to question Bennet’s patriotism and demand his birth certificate.  

    • richardmyers says:

      It isn’t necessarily a question of whether Bennet is progressive enough. About four hundred of us working people and union supporters listened to Senator Bennet talk and answer questions for probably more than an hour on the EFCA issue. He talked about it all of that time and he never took a position. It is as if he wanted to have it both ways.

      When he sought to ingratiate himself by mentioning that he had sat at the bargaining table, he left out the little detail that he had been on management’s side of the table.

      I haven’t heard of anyone (progressives or labor) throwing unwarranted stones at Senator Bennet (as in birth cert., patriotism, etc.)

      It is, rather, a question of whether sitting on the fence on important issues is good for anyone. The candidate may think it is the safest place to be at the time, but — absent a dramatic redefinition of positions (scratch that, it is now probably too late) — i’ll be voting based upon the simple fact that he waffled so eloquently.  

  7. daunteblue says:

    sounds like Andrew Romanoff’s candidacy. He waited around too long, trying to round up his pals at DLC, etc.  I say give Bennet a shot at senator. Jumping on him after only a few months is absurd.

  8. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    All this talk about Bennet not being clear on healthcare is total B.S. Back on April 15 at Senator’s speech to Boulder’s Girls Gone Liberal he said:

    And he did say that if a single-payer plan was brought forward, he would vote for it.

    Can’t get more liberal/progressive than that on healthcare. And that was back in April.

    And from the same talk, on EFCA you have (my take):

    EFCA – He said that he has talked to numerous workers who are convinced that without EFCA unionization is dead. And he has talked to numerous business owners who are convinced that if it passes American business is dead. (News alert to both – it’s actually not that big a deal either way.) What was very interesting in Bennet’s answer was his statement that because he has just joined the Senate, he’s one of the very few with no set of previous statements on this issue. And as such it lets him work with both sides with no one seeing him as leaning one way or the other. The impression he gave is he is using that as a means of reaching some kind of compromise between the parties.

    Some want blind approval of whatever the unions ask for. But I think if the unions had been told no at a couple of key points, they might have a lot more union members still holding jobs in the auto industry.

    Bottom line – Bennet has been upfront and clear on this stuff. He’s also trying to actually craft legislation rather than giving people simple answers that ignore the complexity of actually getting a bill passed.

    Yes some will ding him for it. But I think it speaks well of the job he is doing.

  9. Doing some research on Bennet and Romanoff and started with Bennet’s website. In the “About Michael” section there is a mention of Bennet’s tenure as managing director of Anschutz Investment Company. Also an accolade from the current “President of Anschutz.”  I thought Anschutz was a major Republican so I checked up on him on Wikipedia.  Looks like major Republican is only the beginning:

    “Anschutz, a Republican donor and supporter of George W. Bush’s administration, has been an active patron of a number of religious and conservative causes:

    Helped fund Colorado’s 1992 Amendment 2, a ballot initiative designed to overturn local and state laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation.[13]

    Helped fund the Discovery Institute, a think tank based in Seattle, Washington that promotes intelligent design and criticizes evolution. [14]

    Supported the Parents Television Council, a group that protests against what they believe to be television indecency.[14]

    Financed and distributed Christian films, such as Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for mass audiences through his two film production companies and ownership of much of the Regal, Edwards and United Artists theater chains. In addition, as a producer Anschutz reportedly required the removal of certain material related to drug use and sex in the 2004 film Ray because he found it objectionable.[14][15]

    Financed The Foundation for a Better Life.

    In June, 2009, reports circulated that Anschutz was on the verge of purchasing the conservative American opinion magazine The Weekly Standard from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. The reports reasoned that, having purchased The Wall Street Journal in 2007, Murdoch’s interest in the smaller publication had been less forceful.[16][17] For Anschutz’ part, the magazine’s editorial line would appear consonant with his political views. ”

    For more on Anschutz see

    I know Wikipedia is sometimes a little screwy, but can anyone shine a little light on the Anschutz/Bennet connection and why Democrats should be OK with it. I mean “Helped fund Colorado’s Amendment 2”? What gives?


  10. oldbenkenobi says:

    Does anyone else see the unintentional comedy of the Nancy Cronk blog post?  She sounds starstruck throughout the posting.  But the funniest part is when Bennet tells her he has to go because his cell phone battery is running out.  Otherwise they would talk for hours?  Can he not keep his cell phone charged? Or is this his standard way of ending a phone call?  On a more serious note, why has he not called her “personally” before?  This reinforces the idea that a primary is a good thing because candidates cannot just sit on their laurels.

    I can understand why people (like Cronk) feel they have to honor their word when they have already pledged support to Bennet.  But Bennet is getting undue deference, like he’s been in office for six terms rather than a few months.  Would he even be in the race if he had not been appointed?  What does that tell you?  People need to recognize that one reason he is getting a primary is because he is a weak candidate.  I think the Republicans will eat him alive if they can nominate a solid candidate.  Granted, that seems unlikely.

    There has been some talk that Romanoff should not run because he and Bennet are so close ideologically.  Whether that is true or not, we elect people not ideologies, and many other skills and qualities go into making a great Senator.  A primary is a great place to display and hone those skills and qualities and will make both of these men better candidates in the general and the winnner a better Senator.

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