As Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports:
When Colorado’s Gary Hart ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1984, he was a “long shot” going into the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. The U.S. senator pulled off a “stunning” victory over the front runner, Walter Mondale, eventually propelling Hart to the head of the pack.
Now another senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet, hopes a little of Hart’s magic will rub off on him. Bennet is way behind other Democrats in the primary for 2020. On Saturday, though, he picked up Hart’s formal endorsement, and the two friends campaigned together in Manchester, New Hampshire in hopes of giving Bennet’s campaign a shot in the arm…
Yet the double-digit polling and massive fundraising deficits Bennet faces will get even tougher to overcome since he will not be on stage with the leading Democrats at the next primary debate, which is coming up Thursday evening. Other candidates who have polled similarly to Bennet have recently dropped out of the race.
We’ll confess to a little Gary Hart nostalgia as you read this story, but let’s be clear for just a moment on what’s really going on lest readers think Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado is plowing ahead on a fool’s errand. Without exception we can think of, every 2020 Democratic candidate for President who managed to get on the main stage for even the earliest “clown car” debate featuring 20 contenders reaped a benefit even if they will never be President–and obviously, most of them won’t be. The name recognition gained from being in the hunt for a losing candidate in terms of future runs for higher office is an end to itself.
But within the just-beginning to winnow down field of Democratic presidential candidate, there is a subset of particularly well-qualified people who could well be on the short list for high-level appointments in the next Democratic administration, up to and including the big prize of vice presidential running mate. Sen. Bennet is certainly in that list of qualified officials who, while they didn’t catch fire as a presidential candidate, would be a fine choice to serve in the next president’s Cabinet. And yes, there’s even a scenario in which Bennet would make a good veep counterbalance to, say, a strong progressive woman.
In any event, this is why Sen. Bennet is keeping his hand in as much as any “Hail Mary” shot at New Hampshire.