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June 21, 2010 10:42 PM UTC

What's At Stake in GOP Senate Primary? Only...Everything

  • by: Colorado Pols

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

  1. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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. 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.

    1. Aside from Thune, every other time he’s been the touch of death to seemingly worthwhile Republican candidates. Schaffer in 2008 and now Norton and Penry in 2010.

      Way to go, Dick.

    1. The polling company most of the Republicans used showed Buck up by 10 with 26% undecided about 10 days ago.  Sunday we get the results of a poll showing Buck up by 16% with only 10% undecided.  The firm that did the survey is ranked the 3rd most accurate of 64 survey firms that do lots of surveys.  Here is a link to an article over at PPP about the issue: http://www.peoplespresscollect

      Josh says there numbers are different but will not disclose them and then Norton posts on her facebook page the results of a repub vs dem survey that is several months old.

      What do you say the numbers are?

      and what is the basis for that?

      I think even the 16% understates how badly Norton is getting her butt kicked.  If you look at the relative enthusiasm numbers of the voters in the Magellan survey, those who support Buck are much more likely to vote than those few poor souls who support Norton.  Jane will not break 40% if she stays around until August.  

      My guess is she will drop out, just like she did at the assembly.  Those are Jane Norton’s real Colorado values.

        1.   Norton is a well liked, visible and viable candidate in CO.  The decision to petition made excellent stategic sense, and is to be applauded, both for its difficulty and strategy.  

           Now, Penry’s strategies confound any generally accepted campaign paradigms and, the current polls are a reflection of them.

           The polls would indicate she was better off with Cummings.  

        1. But he was also elected statewide multiple times (as Treasurer and Secretary of State).  It seems strange to cast him as a fresh upstart, rather than a member of the old guard.  But I take your point; that’s why I think Coffman doesn’t fit snugly into either role.

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