What’s At Stake in GOP Senate Primary? Only…Everything

The news that Ken Buck has taken a commanding 53-37 lead in recent polling over Jane Norton in the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination was the big story over the weekend. We’re not surprised that Buck is leading Norton at this point in the race (though the 16-point margin is definitely a shock), and if that lead holds up through the Aug. 10 Primary, it could fundamentally alter the Republican Party in Colorado.

A Norton loss would be devastating to two of the main GOP players in recent years: Dick Wadhams and Josh Penry. Wadhams has already been tied by Republicans to national efforts to clear the GOP field for Norton (hell, his new wife was a staffer for Norton’s campaign), and a Buck victory would not only be a repudiation of his leadership, but more importantly, the final stake into the heart of the idea of Wadhams as a strategic genius.

As for Penry, one year ago he was perhaps the GOP’s top candidate for Governor and the oft-quoted Senate Minority Leader who was nationally praised as being among the next round of Republican leaders nationwide. Now? Penry is Norton’s “campaign manager” and primary spokesperson whose main contributions have been trying to pretend that Norton really isn’t losing and that mysteriously unavailable “other” polls actually have her ahead of Buck. Penry was the guy brought in to save the Norton brand, but whether it is his fault or not, the simple fact remains that Norton was in a better position before Penry came on board than she is now.

There’s no question that a Buck victory over Norton in the GOP Primary would fundamentally alter the power structure among Colorado Republicans, but here’s another question: What happens if Buck wins the Primary but loses the General Election? This could be the worst thing that could happen to the Colorado Republican Party, because it would show that while the old way of doing things (via Wadhams and Penry) isn’t working…neither is the new way (Buck and the Tea Party).

And then what?


28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. BlueCat says:

    his now aging genius status retired in favor of someone who has the sense and the ability to try to make some accomodation between the old guard the moderates who are increasingly leaving to become indies?  

  2. H-man says:

    If McInnis is elected Gov. and Buck loses, not much will change.  Penry is Chief of Staff for McInnis, they keep their boy Wadhams and the 33% of the population Tea Party crowd is disillusioned.

    If McInnis and Buck both lose all bets are off as to the future of Penry and Wadhams.

    The more likely scenario is Buck wins.  Penry is toast no matter what happens with the Governor’s race.  There is genuine bad blood there.  McInnis has to know he would not be helping himself to employ Penry.  As to Wadhams, I am less sure if it would mean he is gone.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      is that both Buck and McInnis are identified as die hard Tea Party extremists who support Doug Bruce and 60,61 and 101 and are voted down by the same moderates who will reject the eggmendment again.  These two politicians are going to be associated with some pretty radical agendas and all the posturing about being moderates is going to be exposed as a lie because of the undying support by the most extreme elements in the Republican Party.

      • H-man says:

        Buck vs. Bennet, Buck up by 3%, Incumbent Senator with 43% of the vote according to the Denver Post.  

        Since Jan 09, Active Colorado Dem registration down from 34.53% to 33.39%, 1.14%.  Same period Republicans are down from 35.09% to 34.90%, 0.19%.  Unaffiliated (read Tea Party) up from 29.81% to 31.11%, up 1.3%.

        Bennet is tied to Obama in all sorts of ways.  Will the hole be plugged?  How is that focused like a laser on jobs doing?  Can we keep hiring more census workers?

        I think that Colorado is more likely going to want a change from Obama’s boy Bennet.

  3. sxp151 says:

    from an association with a losing candidate.

    That’ll be his first, right? Norton’s the only potential stain on his otherwise unblemished record, right?

    Get real. History doesn’t matter to Republicans. That’s why David Vitter is still a Senator, and why Dick Wadhams will always have a campaign job.

  4. COSkier07 says:

    that did this said that Hillary was going to win.  This same poll said that Howard Dean was going to win the Iowa caucus.

  5. DavidThi808 says:

    I’d say the old guard isn’t running much other than the party central committee.

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