We’ve talked about the reaction among the Republican base to rumors that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was meddling in that party’s primary process on behalf of recently-announced candidate Jane Norton. The angry response from the GOP rank-and-file was certainly unambiguous, but today’s Denver Post notes that despite assurances Dick Wadhams may have offered to the contrary, “Norton is expected to get the backing of the national senatorial committee and most of the state’s GOP power brokers.” Oh sorry, you thought Wadhams was serious, didn’t you?
Most people would probably agree that the NRSC wasn’t really doing anything out of the ordinary–and though there’s no corollary “Rule 11” in the Democratic Party that we’re explicitly aware of, we would be remiss if we neglected to point out this assertion from Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos:
I’ve long held that primaries are generally useful things, testing candidates, helping build early organization, refining messaging, and so on. And it’s essentially (small “d”) democratic, requiring elected officials to have a regular “job review” from the voters, both from their party, and in the general with their entire constituency. Heck, in many states and districts, the primary might be the ONLY place incumbents can be held accountable. A small minority of general elections are actually competitive because of partisan polarization. (Same dynamic applies to GOP-held seats, obviously.)
But there is perhaps no place where this DSCC anti-democratic tendency is more egregious than in Colorado, where the DSCC is aggressively trying to keep former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff from challenging appointed Sen. Michael Bennet. [Pols emphasis]
Bennet was appointed to his seat, not elected. He has never been elected to anything before. He is untested in a campaign setting, has never had to sell himself to the voters, has never had to craft a campaign message, has never had to build a field operation. But rather than test him in a primary before Democrats put all their eggs on the Bennet basket, the DSCC is doing what it can to clear the primary field for an incumbent nominated to the seat in an undemocratic process. Their director of communications, Eric Schultz, has spent the last few weeks sending out to their media list negative articles about Romanoff, like this one.
I’m agnostic in this potential Romanoff-Bennet primary, but the more the DSCC meddles, the more I want Romanoff to run…
That’s the rub, folks: the DSCC, like the NRSC, has a preference in primaries, and they do certainly make it known–but when you get caught with your thumb on the scale, it just plain looks bad, maybe bad enough to be more harmful to your favored candidate than the value of your “help.” We imagine that local reporters, fresh off the fireworks caused by the NRSC’s efforts on behalf of Norton, will find a good news story or two in the DSCC being accused of similar activity on behalf of Michael Bennet–and you know what? They probably should, if for no other reason than to verify (or refute, as the case may be) the rumor being spread by Daily Kos.
Bottom line: Ken Salazar didn’t need any help beating Mike Miles in 2004, but in some ways the Colorado Democratic Party is still wrestling with stupid resentments created by perceived “insider meddling” during their race. It’s our feeling that such heavy-handedness is almost always unnecessary and counterproductive–we said so when it looked like a potential primary challenger to Sen. Mark Udall was being pushed around by Pat Waak back in ’07. Hardened political types try everything to minimize uncertainties, but sometimes they do more harm than good–like when voters believe you’re short-circuiting their choices.