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August 22, 2019 10:47 AM UTC

Fearful NRSC Driving Primary Wedges: Don't Take The Bait

  • by: Colorado Pols
A dogpile.

With this morning’s official entry by former Gov. John Hickenlooper into the Democratic U.S. Senate primary to challenge American’s Most Vulnerable Senator™ Cory Gardner, a full-court-press campaign by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) hoping to persuade Hickenlooper to stay out of the race via insider surrogates and ulterior motive-laden pundit hot takes has failed. We have been certain of Hick’s entry into the race for some weeks now, of course, but this last-ditch effort from people with clear ties back to Gardner and Colorado Republicans was interesting to watch–primarily because of the fear on the part of Republicans it broadcast clearly between the lines.

Now that Hickenlooper is in the race, the NRSC has switched gears: to amplifying every dissenting voice against Hickenlooper within the Democratic party they can find. And with a large field of lesser-known Democrats indicating that at least for now their campaigns will continue, Republicans aren’t hurting for content to boost:

Here you can see Matt Whitlock of the NRSC retweeting the comms director of the Colorado Senate Democrats, and (surprise!) Republicans don’t make any distinction between “personal” Twitter accounts and one’s official position like Keith Barnish was clearly hoping. The realization that he had just become a tool of the NRSC appears to have shook up Mr. Barnish enough to issue this “clarification.”

Herein lies a crucial lesson for Democrats to take to heart, no matter who you’re backing in the Democratic primary at this moment. Republicans have made it crystal clear in recent weeks that they consider Hickenlooper to be the most formidable opponent to Cory Gardner–a contention backed up by polling and reinforced by the punditocracy’s attempts to keep him out of the race. That means every Democrat with public visibility or even a decent social media following needs to be diligent about not letting their frustration become a Republican talking point against someone who may well be the eventual nominee. It’s true in every primary, but more so given the desperation of the GOP to land a blow on Hickenlooper any way they can.

This isn’t about “falling in line.” It’s about not being a tool of your opposition. If ranking Colorado Democrats consolidate their support behind Hickenlooper, which appears increasingly likely, the NRSC’s window to exploit such dissent is probably going to be short. When we look back in the fall of 2020 at this long campaign trail, let’s all be proud of our every word.


28 thoughts on “Fearful NRSC Driving Primary Wedges: Don’t Take The Bait

    1. Actually, I get where Alva is coming from. Do any of these other candidates have a realistic prayer of beating Hick? Are they raising money and Johnston's corporate ed money DOES NOT COUNT? If the answer to either of those questions is no and they're still talking shit, they're helping Republicans.

      1. Yes. Some of the candidates are raising substantial money. The former governor isn't as popular as you think, I believe. He has made a lot of enemies…

        Why don't we just wait for a couple of real polls to hit the street. Not just push polls from Republican lite groups who desperately don't want a progressive senator. Let's let Hick actually compete for the job, before we tell everyone else to bow out and clear a path for the anointed one. 

        Frankly, I don't think he can win the nomination…even with the full support of COGA.

          1. My bad. Scratch the question, Duke. I somehow missed there is an Aurora Sentinel, not to be confused with the GJ Sentinel.  Now it makes (more) sense.

              1. Who'd have thunk one would have to leave the burbs to find diversity in names?! The Wray Gazette, Holyoke Enterprise, Burlington Record, Flagler News. 

          2. Sadly, Michael, western slope politics

            is pretty simple. Rs rule, and always have.

            To me, the real story is the systematic way the Local Republicans are turning Mesa county into a gun, god, and drill, baby, drill enclave.

            Mesa College is becoming the fiefdom of Tim Foster, who now relies on an ever increasing team of oil and gas guys on his staff and faculty. For example, the former director of COGA, David Ludlam, is now the PR Director for Mesa. Professor Soychack is another inflential transfer from the petroleum lobby.

            The gunnys are everywhere. They now have the taxpayer funded Cameo Gun Club at which to hang out and pretend to shoot whomever they dream about while teaching the kids about the joys of AR-15 ownership.

            The media here is as sold out and one sided as they can be. Just this morning, in announcing Hicks' senate bid, the CBS affiliate left Corys' statement about Hick being just another left wing nut case( something to that effect) up in print while the announcer sat silently waiting for the slow readers to let it sink in. It is typical of the completely Republican media here. ( I will add there is one, low powered liberal station KWSI and we get cable, of course. But when it comes to local media with significant impact…the GOP owns it.



      1. Meaning no disrespect, Michael, there are a lot of "former this" and "former that" on Andrew's endorsement list. Sort of reminds me of the old saying about the South Platte River in spring time: "a mile wide and a foot deep."

        Wonder how many of those "ex's" will stay on board now that the Governor is in the race. As for the fine stable of candidates, there are some good ones in there; but also people in the wrong place at the wrong time. How many in that "stable" would be able to withstand the onslaught of the far right wing, dark money PAC, ads? 

        I don't get to vote in your primary (no, I'm not changing my registration as I hope I can vote for Governor Bill Weld for president). Hick has my vote if he's the nominee; maybe Johnston. 

        1. Fair point, but they are still a presence and influence in a wide swath of communities around the state. I'm not suggesting everyone in the barn is up to the task of a general election, just that we sufficient talent and legitimate reasons to push back on the "there's only one man" theory with the new contestant.  I'll gladly vote for JH if he is the victor.  I get R&R's point on the arithmetic of having dollars for Iowa or South Carolina if it wasn't being spent in CO, but again that could be a false flag, too.  

          Let's have a primary worthy of the talent that it holds and may the best candidate win. I'm pro-Andrew, not anti-Alice, anti-Angela, anti-John, etc. 

  1. When the state's biggest oil company blew up two people in their homes, Gov Hick declined to levy a single penny of fines against that company. No criminal case, either. Instead, he turned over enforcement of the Firestone explosion to the Trump Administration. Cory Gardener will never make Hick answer questions about how this happened. Shouldn't Dems?

  2. Um, no, Alva. Definitely not going to shut up and let y’all crown Hick Senator without being very clear and vocal about why we have better choices. And if you think I’m a tool of the NR SC, then they must be as bad about choosing tools as Hick was as a Presidential candidate.

  3. If Democrats weren't fighting among ourselves, we wouldn't be Democrats.


    We tend to kiss and make up after the primaries, unlike Republicans. They keep grudges, feed and water them and nurse them with care.

      1. Gertie’s point (in my opinion) is valid for state party comparisons (unless Moddy’s dress was recently stained by Steve House?) I don’t think Tanc and Beauprez have much of a love-fest going on. Anybody seen Dan Maes lately? When was the last big fight for us that left lasting wounds?  I’m as far from a party insider as there is but from the outside looking in we appear to be relatively harmonious (and functional) at the end of the day. 

        1. You're correct, Michael. Just look at the Mesa County Republicans are shunning Dan Thurlow. I still hear far-gone RWNJs putting down Tillie Bishop. He wasn't conservative enough.


    1. You're right, Gertie. And so are you, Michael. Here in the state, after the primaries are over, we understand that the goal is to defeat the Red team. Beating up our fellow Blues only puts gas in Team Red's tank.

  4. Five Thirty-Eight thinks a coronation is not in order quite yet:

    This raises the question of how much Hickenlooper running actually helps Democrats’ chances. Lately, I’ve been pretty skeptical about the importance of “candidate quality” in this age when the “D” or “R” next to a candidate’s name seems to be all that matters — and about whether we are any good at accurately identifying strong candidates in advance. It’s also worth noting that Colorado Democrats will have plenty of choices of whom to send up against Gardner: About a dozen Democrats were already running for the Senate nomination in Colorado, and so far they don’t look likely to yield to Hickenlooper.

      1. That's my read on the field as well. I think Hickenlooper does have the establishment and name recognition behind him – but I also think Romanoff and Madden have a chance to beat him. It frankly will probably come down to how the unaffiliated primary voters break.

      2. Curious, Voyageur — don't you think Johnston, current money leader and prior candidate, is going to be in the field?  I figure he's going to at least be on the ballot for the June primary.

        With the weirdness of a Presidential primary happening on March 3 and the precinct caucuses which will start the "other" primary on March 7, anyone expect a Presidential campaign organization either officially endorsing or unofficially cooperating with a Senate campaign?


        1. Johnston finished in third place in the gubernatorial race.  His money support seems mostly out of state and the teacher union hates him.  He may buy his way to the ballot — as he did last time  — but I just don't see finishing third and charging to victory.  

          On the proverbial other hand, it’s not likely hick, romanoff and madden each get the 30 pct of the convention necessary for the ballot. I’m not sure Alice would try to petition on.
          If either romo or madden consolidates the liberal support they have a good shot at beating hick. Stay tuned.
          I guess I just think at least one woman ought to make the primary and that Alice has the best record of the many well-qualified but not well known women running.

          1. My first election as a Colorado Democrat was in 1976. This may the most interesting and important election in my lifetime.

            If Hick wins the senate nomination, Democrats will get behind him…including me, Michael, mama, cookie and all the rest. We will take down the slimiest politician in the state…Cory Gardner (R-Koch Industries).

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