Senator Bennet’s Leadership Draws Unfair Criticism in DenPost

Recent experience suggests that several things are required to execute a successful political campaign.

It’s been documented .

Things like

1. Communicate a clear and consistent message

2. Persuade, don’t educate

3. Respond quickly to attacks

4. Run a tight ship with a clear chain of command


1) Understand your constituency

2) have a compelling reason to run

3) start fundraising- calculate the budge req’d to run successfully

4) calculate the “win number”

5) refine the budget

6) canvas/get out the vote

7) repeat 3-6 as required

8) transition or concede


1) know the issues involved in the office you seek

2) Develop a compelling message

3) funding.

4) Canvass

5) repeat

or  from a software company

Step 1: Get the Right Tools

Step 2: Hire Campaign Staff

Step 3: Budget and fund raise

Step 4:  Strategy and Message

And so on.

I am a Democrat and I want the Colorado seat to stay D.

I like Senator Bennet – he has done a very good job so far.  But I also think he ‘s the most electable in the general and this is crucial to me.  Yeah, yeah, there have been polls and …yada blada.  Too early for polls to be predictive. Useful, yes, especially to the degree that the poll measures the quality of the required components.   But polls more than 7 months from election day in a race like this are not that predictive.  The likely primary voters are not all engaged yet. The economy can change a lot in the next seven months. A lot can happen, including just voters getting to know the candidates.

Many well intentioned Colorado D’s, and others, have criticized Senator Bennet for executing successfully on one or more parts of the required campaign components. But no complaint has been louder or more bizarre and misplaced than the criticism that he has successfully been raising big money, including from PAC donors.

Through 4Q 09 – the last reporting period for which reporting is available – Bennet successfully raised a little less than $5mm, including a little less than 20% from PACs.

20%? That does not sound like a big number.

It seems like some people are just offended by a number that sounds like a large value.  But in a 2010 US Senate race, $15million is considered “cheap.” And Team Bennet is not there yet, though his pace is ahead of recent successful Colorado campaigns.   Udall and Salazar had not raised $4.7mm by the year end of the year prior to their election date.  So he has been more successful, but it is not like he’s raised 10 times the amount needed to win just because.

Some critics have complained that the Bennet campaign’s defense of raising big dollars is that the campaign with the most money always wins.  The campaign has not, to my knowledge, made that claim, and it makes no sense because it’s verifiably not correct.

However, the Bennet campaign realizes – and I and other supporters have claimed – that campaigns generally need to have sufficient funding to win.   Yes, some very low budget campaigns have won. But it is the exception. Some campaigns have also won with a less than clear and compelling message or other weak component, but that is also the exception.

The loudest criticism is that Senator Bennet has received so much PAC contributions.

Well, first, Senator Bennet has received the lowest percentage of PAC contributions of any member of the Colorado Delegation, except Congressman Polis who accepts no PAC contributions and largely self-financed in 2008.

This morning’s Denver Post article attacking Sen. Bennet for his recent announcement of an ambitious agenda to fix a broken Washington just doesn’t accurately reflect Sen. Bennet’s record.   The Denver Post unfairly singles out Sen. Bennet for receiving PAC contributions, even though he’s received a lower percentage than the rest of the Colorado delegation.

Candidate ___PACs/Other committee cont Total  %PAC

Michael Bennet (2010) $885,195 $4,824,998 18.3%

Mark Udall (2008) $2,186,292 $11,787,048 18.5%

Betsy Markey (2010) $448,820 $1,179,896 38.0%

Diana Degette (2010) $205,515 $311,667 65.9%

Jared Polis (2010)    $1,000         $242,305  0.4%

Ed Perlmutter (2010) $428,799 $882,124 48.6%

John Salazar (2010) $381,049 $676,561 56.3%

Doug Lamborn (2010) $90,135 $153,256 58.8%

Mike Coffman (2010) $148,336 $410,447 36.1%


The article implies that somehow because Sen. Bennet has taken PAC contributions it limits his credibility as a reformer going forward.  That the act of acceptance means he cannot legislate in opposition to those contributors.

If only the Senator had some kind of voting record or track record in the Senate that we could judge. But wait, he’s been there for more than a year.  Surely, he’s voted on something relevant in all that time. Some vote or position where the Senator was in opposition to some of his donors.

If only the Senate kept records of these kinds of things. It would be so helpful to be able to look it up and confirm either the claim that he has caved to his donors or that he has stood up for the families and voters of Colorado as he has claimed he would.

Senator Bennet’s record in the Senate shows that he has consistently stood up to the special interests. It would be one thing if Michael had a history of caving to the big money, but his record is exactly the opposite.  He has consistently taken the tough stands and stood up to the special interests, advocating for Colorado families.

Banking Industry and credit card issuers

Early in His Term  Senator Bennet advocated for Financial Regulatory Reform  [David Theilan, 4/26/09

“…Bennet launched in to discussing the financial mess…He then talked at length on the work he is putting in with Senator Warner and others under the direction of Senator Dodd to come up with the needed regulations to insure this does not happen again. He dove in first to the asleep at the wheel regulators we had. And the fact that not only was there minimal to no regulation, but the banks were being encouraged to leverage themselves even more to 20:1 or even 30:1. Clearly he saw this as insane.”

Bennet Is Pushing For Strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  Denver Post 10/4/2009

“Bennet … is in favor of many of the regulatory reforms proposed so far even though they are opposed by Wall Street. He’s in favor of both a new consumer regulator and reining in the derivatives market, Bennet said.” This was a move that is aggressively opposed by the financial services industry.  

Bank Industry Opposes Creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Reuters 2/25/10

“Republicans and lobbyists for banks and Wall Street have been trying to kill or weaken the proposal, calling it an unwise step that would separate consumer protection from banking supervision. The CFPA also threatens bank profits.”

Senator Bennet Helped Pass “Landmark” Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights.

Bennet voted for the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act. Politico May 19 called the measure a “landmark” “credit card crackdown” and said it would “impose strict new rules on interest rates, fees and other controversial billing practices.”

Banking Industry Opposed CARD Act. Reported Fox Business

“The banking industry opposed the overall measure and said it could restrict credit at a time when Americans need it most. Banking officials defended their existing interest rates and fees on grounds that their business — lending money to consumers with no collateral and little more than a promise to pay it back — is very risky.”

Banking Industry Opposed Interest Rate Cap and Bennet Voted For Reasonable Caps on Credit Card Interest Rates.

Senate Roll Call Vote 191

Industry Opposed Freeze On Rates and Bennet Supported the Credit Card Rate Freeze Act. Bennet Co-sponsored a measure that, according to the Wall Street Journal, would “freeze rates on existing card balances until February, when tough new rules for the industry are slated to go into effect.”

Wall Street Journal


I will add more later for other industries- focusing especially on the industries from which Senator Bennet has received PAC contributions. Health Insurance and Pharma, Oil and Gas and other mining, nursing homes and one a separate pice on specific financial legislation where I disagreed with his vote, but understand his logic. There have been votes on other legislation and resolutions and other Senatorial stuff, this is just stuff most obviously related to PAC donors.

But it is important to keep in mind that fundraising is just one component of a executing a successful campaign, one that Senator Bennet does well, better than most.  By all means, hold him accountable. Absolutely, let’s have campaign finance reform.  But until we do, do not unilaterally disarm by forgoing funding just ’cause. Let’s do it after we win and hold the seat.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ColoDem Di says:

    But I thought leadership skills were ONLY gained in ELECTED office.  

    Any efforts at financial regulatory reform need to be reasonable and effective, not just a knee-jerk, punitive reaction.  It needs to be done by elected representatives who understand WTF they’re looking at and understand the implications, intended or otherwise, of proposed reforms.  

    Contrary to popular belief, most of the employees at Wall Street firms do NOT make $kabillion a year.  They’re among the many thousands of people who lost their jobs over the past 2 years – because of bad decisions made by the handful of guys at the top who DO make $kabillions.  A lot of these people who either lost their jobs or watched their friends and colleagues lose their jobs, and in the meantime watched their 401k match paid in company stock go to zero, DO support sensible reform.  I know this because I’m one of them.  I absolutely trust Senator Bennet to provide good leadership on this issue.  

    I wonder if any of the naysayers have considered the possibility that some of these Evil Wall Street Contributors may be his former investment banking colleagues – who trust his judgement.  

    • Steve Harvey says:

      is exactly what they’re worried about.

      First, a disclaimer: I like and respect Andrew Romanoff, and I like and respect many of his supporters.

      But there is a shrill, radical faction of his supporters who live in a very simplistic, black-and-white, zero-sum game caricature of reality. This has, in fact, always been the Far Left’s greatest weakness, and Andrew (disappointingly, to me) has exploited this weakness rather deftly in his bid for the Senate seat.

      As an aside, I have a slightly different take on one of MADCO’s points above: “Persuade, don’t educate.” Yes, that is the preferable campaign strategy, if the ultimate goal is to get elected. However, if the ultimate goal is to improve our social institutional landscape, nothing is more important than, somehow and somewhere, educating the electorate. That task can, and perhaps (for strategic reasons) should, be separated from electoral politics. But that’s not what happens: Electoral politics displaces it completely, and little education ever occurs. That’s a systemic defect we need to strive mightily to rectify. And that’s why I’m disappointed in Speaker Romanoff’s choice (apparently a conscious one) to exploit irrationality rather than to cultivate rationality.

      Back to the main point: The irrationality to which I refer is this caricature of reality as a pure and simple “good guys against bad guys” morality play, with anyone in or close to the financial sector being “bad guys,” and anyone who can sound populist enough as “good guys”.

      So, perversely, the fact that the “bad guys” would trust Michael Bennet means that he must be a “bad guy” too, and a dangerous mole to be allowed into our government working his nefarious will on behalf of mustache-twisting super-villains….

      The political “debate” that has evolved around this contest is one of the most discouraging and sickening I have witnessed in a long time. Despite the participation of some rational people, we haven’t gotten to the merits, because the debate has been completely hijacked by the irrational particpants, and the perceived need to keep responding to their irrational assertions. And as a result, the debate (at least on this blog) has focused almost exclusively on the horse race, and almost not at all on the relative merits of various arguments concerning public policy.

      Some would say that’s because there’s “no difference” on policy positions between Romanoff and Bennet. I’m not sure of that (the differences may not be large, but, at least listening to them speak, I detect relevant differences in political philosophy).

      The debate that would be more useful, maybe not for electoral purposes but for the purpose of educating the public, would be the very fundamental one about how to balance efficiency concerns with distributional concerns, because, subtly, that is the distinction that the two candidates have drawn between themselves.

      And, while I support Michael Bennet in the primary, because his sense of the systemic nature of the challenge resonates more with my understanding, I will very gladly and enthusiastically support whomever becomes our Democratic candidate in the general election, because either one of them is far closer to the optimal balance of efficiency and distributional justice concerns than any of the Republican contenders.

      • ColoDem Di says:

        George Soros and Warren Buffet gained their wealth on the Evil Wall Street, so they must be “bad guys” too.  

        Oh right, except that they offer political and financial support towards the causes we care about.  Maybe they’re not ALL bad.

    • jpsandscl says:

      prior to the fall, the average pay for GS employees was $575K/year. Due to the virtually unlimited upper end distorting that average, I’d guess the median at something less but still in respectable range of $350K plus. And no one was asking too many questions of the gods at the top when the bacon was coming home in such sizable chunks then I bet.

  2. peacemonger says:

    My hat goes off to you.

  3. peacemonger says:

    I agree with your post as well. If you detect any differences in policy between Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff, I would love to hear them. I don’t hear any.  Perhaps it is because of the loud voices screaming I should feel guilty Andrew Romanoff is unemployed. (Note to self: not my problem.)

    • Steve Harvey says:

      It’s not so much differences in stated policy positions as in political philosophy or reasoning processes, which can lead to differences on future votes.

      I tend to pay more attention to how someone thinks than to what they say their positions are on specific current issues (though obviously the latter says something about the former). I believe in representative democracy, so I want smart people of good will to go to Washington (and the state house, and city councils, and County Commissioners’ offices…), and BE smart people of good will acting as our agent. I look for the person best suited to do that, rather than the person who agrees with my specific conclusions most often. (Of course, the two tend to be highly correlated! I come to my conclusions because I think that sound reasoning in service to universal good will leads to them….)

      Anyway, in the case of Romanoff and Bennet, whose positions are so close together, that distinction (looking at reasoning processes rather than at stated positions) becomes more relevant.

      • jpsandscl says:

        “Nothing like being a chauvinistic douche posing as a global humanitarian!”

        quote from Steve Harvey

        “…so I want smart people of good will to go to Washington (and the state house, and city councils, and County Commissioners’ offices…), and BE  smart people of good will…”

        another quote by Steve Harvey

        I just can’t quite reconcile the two… I guess unless you are not of good will and you are merely expostulating hypothetically.

        How’s that race of yours coming along again Steve?

        • Steve Harvey says:

          of launching a bizarrely irrelevant attempt at a “gotcha,” you chose a pretty lame attack.

          One of those statements was a response to a policy orientation which maintains or increases global economic inequality for the benefit of the group to which the poster belongs, but which claimed to be in the interests of global humanity, and the other was a simplified statement of favoring representative democracy over direct democracy. There is nothing mutually exclusive or inconsistent in those two statements at all.

          To be honest, I have no idea why you bothered to make that post. But if it makes you happy, that’s good enough for me.

          • jpsandscl says:

            is people talking out their * about what good folks they are on one post while they are actually nothing but foul mouthed bullies in other posts.

            You’re a hypocrite Steve and it calls into question anything you say IMHO.

            • Steve Harvey says:

              When other posters advance ideas that I consider odious and destructive to human welfare, and do so with a complete lack humility, I do not find any discrepency between my commitment to human welfare and my willingness to “bully” them. Even so, my harshess is almost always in response, in fact, to others trying to bully me, and discovering that they weren’t up to the task.

              There are even times when other posters advance just bad and ill-considered ideas in particularly arrogant ways when I take the gloves off. Fighting for humanity’s welfare doesn’t mean being all sugar-and-spice in every exchange. It means knowing when to be congenial, and knowing when to fight for what you believe in.

              However, you will find that, no matter how heated any exchange I’ve been in has ever gotten, nor how vitriolic anyone has been with me, nor how long it has lasted, I instantly and sincerely embrace anyone as a friend who says, “let’s bury the hatchet.” Because, in the end, the goal is mutual good will, not antagonism. The fact is that I am on good terms with anyone who wants to be on good terms with me.

              Let’s get real: What calls into question for you anything I have to say is that you entered an exchange with arrogant belligerence, did not fare well, and are angry at me for it.

              • jpsandscl says:

                You’re arrogant, self-righteous and sanctimonious Steve. In fact, you can’t handle honest debate and criticism of your facile positions, so instead of defending them, you take the easier softer way out of making ad-hominem attacks instead.

                If you were talking face to face with someone and and you ever had the temerity to use the language you are so brave to use in your blog posts, you might find yourself getting punched in the nose! But maybe that is a circumstance that isn’t so unusual for you Steve.

                And you were certainly then and still now the weaker debater. You’re just so self-delusional that you can’t admit it. It’s ok, I’ve seen your kind many time before Steve. You’re pathetic.

        • Steve Harvey says:

          you waited six days from when I posted my last response to another poster, the last post made on the diary, on the same day the diary was created, before, with an absurdity that defies description, accosting me with this prolongued angry tantrum about my having called you a “chauvinistic douche” weeks ago when you were pontificating on what a favor it is to people trying to cross our border not to let them through, thus striking a blow for workers everywhere (yeah, right).

          And to make sure that I understand what ad hominem attacks look like, in response to no direct insult from me, you have called me on this thread a hypocrite, arrogant, self-righteous, sanctimonious, facile, self-delusional, pathetic, a weaker debater, and someone whom you want to punch in the nose. All because you are outraged that I used the ad hominem phrase “chauvinistic douche.” Oh, and the reason why “I” have to resort to so many ad hominem attacks, according to you, is that I am frustrated by being so horribly outmatched by your superior intellect. Uh-huh.

          I know that you posted this little hissy-fit of yours in what you hoped was an obscure corner of cyberspace, because you’re not quite irrational enough not to realize how ridiculous you appear.

          But it doesn’t matter that it’s just us, does it? We’re probably the only ones reading this, and both of us know exactly what’s going on here.

          From the moment you first posted on that other thread some time ago, your whole attitude was “I know everything and no one else knows anything.” It was an attitude based on a little bit of shallow academic dogma that was easily debunked. And because you were flexing a fragile egg-shell ego in the first place, having it cracked just pushed you over the edge. You are so incensed by it, so obsessed, that you find a post of mine on a thread long abandoned by everyone else, and attempt to get back at me to the best of your ability.

          Unfortunately for you, that’s far short of what it takes to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish.

          Look, I honestly don’t wish you ill. I know you don’t believe that, but it’s true. And you’re going to think that this is another insult intended to make you feel bad, but it’s not (others were, but this isn’t): People humiliate themselves all the time. Almost everyone does at some point or another. Once it happens, the trick is to recover from it quickly and gracefully, or you only succeed in compounding it.

          We aren’t in any competition. You have no stake in my life, and I have none in yours, beyond that of any two random people who beathe the same air. What I said to you and what you said to me doesn’t matter, it doesn’t affect our lives. It’s just a debate on a blog. Get over it.

          Now, go have a drink, sit down and read a good book or watch a good movie, and have a nice evening. Really.

          • jpsandscl says:

            you should really get a grip on yourself.

            You’re striking in your hypocrisy, ignorance and arrogance. But that’s ok, I don’t have to live with you, you just have to live with yourself.

            • Steve Harvey says:

              Might I suggest that you stop gripping yourself, or at least find a more private place to do so? Your call. It’s all good to me.

            • Steve Harvey says:

              You’re feeling f***ed, and you desperately want to feel like you’re the one doing the f***ing. But the more you try to turn it around, the more you reinforce the uncomforable position you’ve placed yourself in. Your obsessive desperation to prove your dominance, weeks after having your fragile little ego wounded, is a proclamation of weakness rather than a demonstration of strength.

              Very few observers have ever looked upon an exchange like this and said “Oh my! That guy calling the other one ‘a pathetic fool’ is so impressive!” Because, let’s face it, few things are more foolish or pathetic than calling someone you are angry at “a pathetic fool.”

              As entertaining as this may be, if you want to end it, and coexist without mutual hostility, I’d be happy to accommodate you. All you have to do is let it go. Since the “problem” here exists only in your imagination, that’s all it takes to solve it.

              But your choices are your own, and if you need to keep doing what you’re doing, that’s fine too. I don’t think it’s going to work for you, but my saying that just makes it more impossible for you to acknowledge it, since this whole exchange is about you trying, very inartfully and unsuccessfully, to dominate me.

              Isn’t life fascinating?

              • jpsandscl says:

                it’s really fun to watch you spin. And it’s so easy too. I like you Steve. You amuse me.

                calling someone a douche and never even apologizing for being such an arrogant ass then expecting that person to just accept the hostility with a smile (not even a kiss Steve?)… you really are quite incredible.

                • Steve Harvey says:

                  More phrases trying desperately to signal a non-existent dominance.

                  Now, let’s take a quick tally:

                  I called you a “douche,” on a thread in real time, without returning to you or any issue with you any time thereafter.

                  You sought me out weeks later, replying (but not responding) to a post made in response to someone else six days earlier (the last one on the thread) to call me an arrogant ass, hypocrite, self-righteous, sanctimonious, facile, self-delusional, pathetic, a fool, ignorant, and undoubtedly a few other things I missed. You also posted a quick irrelevant potshot on another thread in which I wasn’t participating.

                  I offered to let bygones be bygones, several times, and you answered that I’m “an arrogant ass” to expect you “to just accept my hostility (having called you a “douche”) with a smile.”

                  And you seem desperate to claim some sort of victory in this exchange on which your self-image apparently depends.

                  The facts speak for themselves. No commentary required.

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