The Reinvention of Romanoff Hits a Snag

There are currently eight Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Colorado…or nine if you count both versions of Andrew Romanoff.

The current iteration of Romanoff more closely resembles the 2010 Senate challenger version (“2010 Andrew”) than the 2014 congressional candidate in CO-6 (“2014 Andrew”) but just like the rest of us, Romanoff doesn’t get to be selective about his personal and professional history.

If you’ve been following the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate — particularly since former Gov. John Hickenlooper joined the race in August — you know that Romanoff has been positioning himself as the “anti-establishment” candidate who is proud to not have the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which has endorsed Hickenlooper. This is a predictable tactic, to some extent, because all candidates try hard to reimagine any weakness as a strength. But Romanoff took this stance a little too far during a candidate forum hosted by the Denver Democrats over the weekend. As Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reported via Twitter:

If you really, truly believe that Romanoff would have turned down the support of the DSCC had it been offered, then you can stop reading right here; we’ll let you get back to importing gold bars from Nigeria and plotting out how to spend your winnings from the Canadian lottery. Quite simply, Romanoff’s anti-establishment rhetoric doesn’t withstand the test of history.

One of the major storylines in Colorado politics in late 2008/early 2009 involved speculation about who then-Gov. Bill Ritter might appoint to fill the remainder of Ken Salazar’s U.S. Senate term (Salazar gave up his Senate seat after President-elect Barack Obama tapped him to serve as Secretary of the Interior). Ritter infamously selected Michael Bennet as Salazar’s replacement, a decision that shocked pretty much everyone, including us (“What the Hell?!?” was our headline on January 2, 2009).

January 2, 2009

Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Ritter could have gone with a popular Mayor who enjoys tremendous name ID throughout the Front Range (Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper). He could have chosen an incumbent congressman with a big warchest who could seamlessly move into the office (Rep. Ed Perlmutter). He could have chosen a popular former Speaker of the House whose selection wouldn’t have caused a domino effect of jockeying to fill his seat (Andrew Romanoff). Ritter could have chosen a lot of people who had strong name ID and weren’t just known as “Denver people,” but he didn’t.

Romanoff had a strong argument for Salazar’s seat, and he was right to be upset about being passed over for Bennet — who was then serving as the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Romanoff should have launched a Senate campaign of his own soon thereafter, but he inexplicably waited until August to get a campaign off the ground, giving Bennet plenty of time to consolidate Democratic support and financial contributions; Bennet would eventually defeat Romanoff by more than 8 points in the 2010 Primary.

Romanoff’s 2020 Senate campaign contains a lot of the same themes as his Primary bid 10 years earlier, which would be fine if 2014 never happened. In late 2013, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which is the Democratic House equivalent of the DSCC, publicly backed Romanoff’s bid for Congress in CO-6 against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. The heavy hand of the DCCC helped clear the Democratic field for Romanoff and went on to spend nearly $2 million to boost Romanoff’s candidacy; the DCCC planned to spend at least $1.4 million more for Romanoff until weak polling numbers in early October convinced them to redistribute those funds to other races around the country.

Romanoff is positioning himself as the “anti-establishment” candidate in 2020, but he was the epitome of an establishment choice for Congress in 2014. It’s not at all believable for Romanoff to say that he would not have accepted the DSCC’s backing in 2020 had it been offered.

Support Romanoff for U.S. Senate if you think he is the better candidate — just don’t stand behind him because you think he’s the “anti-establishment” option.


47 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RepealAndReplace says:

    Will Andrew be channeling Pat Caddell from the Beyond?

  2. doremi says:

    Why are you (Colorado Pols) always such cheerleaders for the Establishment candidates????

    Hickenlooper did say he didn't want to run for the Senate, saying he didn't want to be one of 100.

    Lots of negatives on Hick….O&G buddy buddy being just one.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      So what if he was a reluctant candidate? George Washington didn't want to be president but stepped up to the plate when drafted.

      Would you prefer some craven pol who keeps running for any office that's open while the voters keep saying, "No thanks"?

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:


        And did you really just compare Hickenlooper to George Washington?

        Drinking and blogging again, huh?

        • RepealAndReplace says:

          Craven? Yes.

          Hick actually had a life before politics. He had two careers before politics. Romo has been a perennial candidate for something or another for the last quarter of a century (DNC committee member, state representative, US Senate, US Rep, US Senate).

          Hick doesn't have much in common with G.W. but they were both reluctant candidates for some office at some time.

          • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

            You mean other than working on international development issues focusing on small farmers and four years as president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado? His early work at the Southern Poverty Law Center? (and a few other things).  One might just as easily proclaim the wins and losses of his entire adult life have prepared him for this moment in time? 

            I've made it clear I'll vote and support John if he's the candidate – but if I was going to use the words craven I'd also attach them to JH's early shifting positions post-Amendment 64, his belief industrial hemp will never be more than a boutique crop and apologizing to sheriff's.  I get the political calculus on all of those – but if craven is the bar we're setting now let's talk about in its full context. 

            These are two men with different life experiences who both, in their own way, have added much to our Colorado story. 

        • MADCO says:

          Is there a rule against it?
          Cause if so.. I understand, but I'ma gonna have to cut way back

    • The realistThe realist says:

      Gosh, doremi, I don't see a Pols answer to your question . . .

  3. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    Seriously, I'd have more respect for this blog if the authors had preceded this piece with one about Frackenlooper changing his tune by pretending to be the right candidate to fight climate change.


    Oh right, this is a politics not policy blog, and the politics has you in the bag for Hick.

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    I'm not generally interested in taking the bait on these posts, but "The lady CoPols doth protest too much, methinks"

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      I get the impression that someone has done some internal polling that urges them to believe hit pieces like this one Alva has produced are necessary to change the narrative. 

      We know how unpopular Hickenlooper is in large swaths of Colorado..


      • The realistThe realist says:

        Yes, exactly. The Hicks seem to know they have to weaken Romanoff in order to push Hick – that he's not strong enough without that tactic being successful. Hick is undoubtedly a good fundraiser, but will he really appeal to enough Coloradans to beat Gardner? The jury is out. 

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          Cory Gardener is weak and universally despised, struggling under the immense baggage of the worst and most unfit President in American history; he is clearly the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate, . . .

          . . . who only John Hickenlooper can possibly beat in 2020!

          Don’t ask me why this is so, or even to try to make sense of it, . . . .

          . . I get my Colorado political news and narratives from reading Colorado Pols

  5. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    At this point, I'm looking for any indication that someone OTHER than Hick could beat Cory. 

    Anyone have good story to tell about how any of the not-Hick candidates would be able to beat him at the Convention or take him out in the primary, and then turn around and beat the most successful Republican vote-getter now on the scene?

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      There are too many variables for serious prediction.  Get behind our fav, work like crazy, and hope to take this seat next year.   It won't be easy.  

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Any of two or three people can beat Cory. The solution is in the phrase I and others have used here.

      Vote Blue…No Matter Who.

      The problem can be found in the reaction of CHB to my question about his willingness to support Romanoff, should he succeed in securing the nomination, instead of the carpetbagger from COGA.

      Almost without exception, progressives on these pages have indicated a willingness to vote for the eventual nominee, even if it is a "moderate".

      I have not seen a similar commitment from our more moderate or conservative friends. 

      CHB will vote for Cory Gardner if his opponent is not Hick. He will vote for Trump if his opponent is Warren or Sanders. How many Democrats will do the same?

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Bear in mind that chb is a republican.  It's one thing for a moderate Democrat to appeal to him.  But a left-wing froot loop?


      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        "CHB will vote for Cory Gardner if his opponent is not Hick. He will vote for Trump if his opponent is Warren or Sanders……"

        Funny that some people know more about how I might vote than I know myself. Romanoff hasn't won an election since he was term-limited out of his safe House district. As I've said before, Hick has my vote if he is the Dem candidate. Otherwise, may just sit this one out.

        As for president, somebody needs to be down at Comedy Central doing stand-up if they think I would vote for Trump. Warren as the nominee presents a quandary. As in, why should any one of 160 million plus citizens who are OK with their health insurance be willing to give it up so 15 million un-insureds can get covered through Medicare for All. Improving ObamaCare is a far more efficient and cheaper method of trying to cover un-insureds; along with a much stronger emphasis on healthy lifestyles.

        This morning on Yahoo News, a left leaning writer opined that creating Medicare for All; Bernie and Elizabeth style; would require a 42% national sales tax, or value added tax, just to come close to funding Medicare for All. "Good way" to attract all those independent and moderate voters…..not.

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          I saw that too.  I, for one, ignore most of the hysteria from the M4A pundits.  It's a distraction.  I do appreciate a candidate who aspires to the ideal that we should all have coverage and that a single health incident shouldn't bankrupt anyone, whatever that final product looks like when we finally join the rest of the developed world.

          I share your thought on the ACA;  enhancing the current legislation would be my preference –  and adding  a public-option for those who want in and are OK with govt. healthcare.  

          Like any negotiating tactic (and the health care biz is an 800 pound gorilla) it's better to start from a position of strength (controlling the WH, legislature and public opinion) and from a point of reference where you can give up a little in the negotiations.  I don't think anyone believes the health care industry, like the coal industry of yesterday,  is going to give an inch without a fight…and a fighter acting on behalf of uninsured Americans. 

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          So …Sitting it out is a vote FOR the incumbent. Thank you for admitting you will do that.

          You would do the same in the presidential race if we nominate a "leftie"… if I get your drift. Did you not vote to put both of these men, T***p and Conman into office? Yet, you will not vote to remove them unless the opposing party picks a suitably conservative, corporate apologist?

          I see.

    • kwtreekwtree says:

      I’ll let Angela Williams tell her own story in this campaign video. Pols panned the video on the Big Line; but then, Senator Williams is not elderly, not white, not male, and her name is not Hickenlooper. 

      Of the six women running for the Senate seat, I think that Williams has the best chance of getting onto the ballot, and of becoming the nominee and defeating Gardner. Williams is a currently serving, undefeated State Senator of huge, diverse NE Denver district 33. She understands rural issues from growing up on an Oklahoma farm. Further, her Senate resume shows work on Broadband access, and similar issues. Her father was a union steward. She is a fighter willing to take on Gardner, and Hickenlooper in a primary fight.

      In person, she is charming and low key. Her record in the Legislature has been one of forming partnerships and solving problems:

      Police-community relations problems, small business competitiveness, labor and management. She is a solid, if somewhat moderate, progressive. Given the values that everyone needs access to affordable health care, she is open to compromise. Climate and the environment are priorities.

      I admire all of the women running for Senate, most of whom were making late night runs to tiny Colorado towns last February, when Hick was openly contemptuous about running for Senate. But experience counts. I like a candidate who has run and won, and she has.

      Senator Angela Williams can excite the young, female, and racial minority voters, unlike Hick, whose main strength is his name recognition. 

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        Where to begin…….

        First, La Pomposa starts off by playing the victim card. Angela Williams is not a old, white man. (The photo makes that clear.)

        Serving undefeated in SD 33. Hmm, she may have been a fine state senator but a Geranium with a "D" next to it would get elected in SD 33.

        As for diverse, that district does contain a lot of white yuppies living in Stapleton as well as African Americans in the district, so you're correct that it is racially diverse. But what experience does she have in appealing to cross over voters who are unaffiliated or non-crazy Republicans? There are more unaffiliated voters statewide than there are D's or R's.

        Hick DOES have name recognition but I guess that comes from running a couple of successful citywide races followed by two successful statewide races. What would you have him do? Change his name to level the playing field?

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          Get out of the race and let someone who doesn't shill for COGA unseat Cory.

          But Frackenlooper is on a mission to protect his oily brethren. Read his editorial…all the key phrases are there.

          He is in the race to protect the industry from "socialism". Stroking his massive ego might be a factor as well. In any event, if Fracky boy is the nominee, we get to choose between a sold out Republican and a sold out Republican lite. Some choice.

        • kwtreekwtree says:

          You do love to argue with your Pomposa puppet, but that has nothing to do with me or what I think or write. 

          Senator Williams does pretty well telling her own story. Here she is on the diversity of her district: 

          "It's probably the most diverse district in the state — and that's not just ethnically," she maintains. "We have children, we have millennials, we have middle-age people, we have the elderly. We have low-income populations and very high-income people. The socioeconomic statuses in my district are very, very diverse, but I'm able to move in and out of these populations because I understand that most of the issues are really the same. Everybody wants a good education, everyone wants to make a good living. So the question is, how does policy affect these populations differently? For example, our education and funding affects kids in Montbello differently than it does in Park Hill and Stapleton. That's something I understand, because I've been in the trenches and met with parents at all kinds of different schools and talked to kids to learn how these issues affect diverse populations."

          And on why she will better represent Coloradans than Hickenlooper will:

          Second, Governor Hickenlooper needs to answer for his decision, as a presidential candidate, to play right into the hands of Republicans and criticize progressive solutions as socialism. It is not socialism to want to expand health care access and reduce costs for every citizen in this state, with the federal government’s help. It is not socialist to propose sweeping changes to our fossil fuel economy, preserving our land and water for ranchers, farmers, and future generations. When we Democrats label and attack progressive solutions as “socialist,” we adopt the tired scare tactics that conservatives have used to decrease the appeal of otherwise popular ideas in an effort to win elections, or defeat Democratic policy proposals

          • RepealAndReplace says:

            Angela Williams also had something in the neighborhood of $48,000 in her campaign account which is more than enough for a Dem running unopposed for the state legislature in a solidly blue district like SD 33.

            But now she wants to play in the big leagues. When she raises some serious money, she will be taken more seriously.

            I do not want to wake up on November 4 next year to see Thom Tillis and Joni Ernst eeking out narrow wins because the DSCC had to move money out of North Carolina and Iowa to carry an anemic unknown Democrat in Colorado across the finish line in retiring Gardner.

            At least Hick doesn't need national party financial support.

      • The realistThe realist says:

        We'll see how it all evolves but I have to say – at a recent candidate forum in the hills Diana Bray and Lorena Garcia did a far better job at impressing the audience than Angela Williams did. The crowd favorite was Andrew Romanoff but Bray and Garcia were very good. I hardly hear Hickenlooper's candidacy discussed.

        • kwtreekwtree says:

          I agree that Lorena Garcia is impressive. She is probably closest to my own politics on all issues. And Dr. Stephany Spaulding would win hands-down on her oratorical skills alone (helps to be a preacher). 

          But the question John in Denver asked was: 

          At this point, I'm looking for any indication that someone OTHER than Hick could beat Cory. 

          Anyone have good story to tell about how any of the not-Hick candidates would be able to beat him at the Convention or take him out in the primary, and then turn around and beat the most successful Republican vote-getter now on the scene?

          Angela Williams meets those criteria for me. She’s gotten Emily’s List backing before for her State Leg runs- if she were the nominee, money would pour in, as it did for Jena Griswold- who, if you remember, had a less-than-impressive war chest heading to the General, and Pols in their infinite wisdom didn’t think Jena had much chance of beating Wayne Williams. (stage whisper: Pols gets it wrong about half the time)

  6. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    Support Romanoff for U.S. Senate if you think he is the better candidate — just don’t stand behind him because you think he’s the “anti-establishment” option.

    Support Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate if you think he is the better candidate — just don’t stand behind him because you think he’s the “wants to be your senator” option.

    "I’m not cut out to be a senator."

    “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups, which is important, right? But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

    “It’s awful hard to imagine that I could be successful in a Senate campaign or as a senator.”

    “If the Senate’s so good, how come all those senators are trying to get out?”

  7. doremi says:

    Colorado Pols….I just wish you were even-handed.

    In 2010, you were disgustingly ALL-IN for Bennet…and look what that got us.   A quasi-Democrat, who voted with the NRA 3 times in 2009, votes often pro-business.  His only real claim to fame was dissing Ted Cruz.

    Hick is just another Bennet.  They are pretty much twins on issues, except Hick is even less for environment issues than Bennet.

    I just get so very frustrated reading this supposedly pro-progressive blog picking its favorite, and then blasting the others without noting any of the warts of their pick.

    Why don't you point out how Hick went before the sheriffs and apologized for signing the High Capacity Magazine ban, and then said "my staff made me do it"?  Leadership???  Not what I'd call it.  Rather … trying to buy new friends by throwing your staff under the bus.

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