Colorado Senate Seat “Likely Democratic”

Roll Call has an early rundown of where the 2014 Senate races are ranked in order of competitiveness. Colorado is listed as “Likely Democratic” among the 33 Senate races, which puts Sen. Mark Udall’s seat well outside the top tier:

The early read from both sides is that Udall is in a strong position for re-election. Even Republicans concede that he has deftly positioned himself as a moderate on fiscal and social issues.

But the DNA of Colorado is a swing state, and midterm races are typically difficult for the president’s party, especially during a second term. Republicans fell just short of ousting Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010. Therefore, the GOP is optimistic and several names have already surfaced. The Republican who strikes the most fear in the hearts of Colorado Democrats is Rep. Cory Gardner.

Other possible challengers include 2008 Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, former Rep. Bob Beauprez and state Attorney General John Suthers.

Nothing new there (at least not to readers of Colorado Pols). Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is mentioned as the “scariest” potential GOP candidate, and also picked up a mention in a similar story on The National Journal (subscription required).

Is Gardner really “The Republican who strikes the most fear in the hearts of Colorado Democrats?” On the whole, of course not. But this is all relative to other potential GOP candidates, and with that background Gardner is definitely the one that would be most worrisome for Udall.

Gardner’s relative strength is key in this discussion, because Udall would still be a heavy favorite for re-election if Gardner was the GOP candidate. And that is exactly why Gardner won’t run for Senate in 2014. He’s doing the smart thing by letting his name float out there for 2014, because any discussion of Gardner as a Senate candidate only enhances his name ID and perceived strength among Republicans.

Gardner won’t run against Udall because it is too big of a political risk. He can hold his current House seat for as long as he wants, so there’s no rush to move up. If he did decide to run against Udall and lost, Gardner would be out of elected office without having had time to grow his political network (a Republican would likely replace Gardner in CD-4, which would preclude him from trying to retake his old seat in 2016).

Gardner is in a great position to be mentioned as a top Senate challenger, which is only happening because the GOP has no bench in Colorado. He won’t run, but for now there’s no benefit to officially removing his name from the rumor mill.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MADCO says:

    Don Maes, Mike Coffman and Ken Buck.

    Ryan Frazier, and Jane Norton are a close 2nd tier.

    The Bobs? c’mon, you might as well have included Tom Tancredo and Hank Brown.

    Maybe the R’s will start pushing Udall for Secretary of State and go after this seat instead of MA.   Hell- maybe President Obama will give Udall a gig …. who is Hancock’s assistant? DPS Superintendant?

  2. Republican 36 says:

    In the past, Colorado has been a swing state but I think our state is now “Blue.” The Democratic Party won the 2004, 2006, 2008 elections here, stemmed the tide of the Republican wave in 2010 and then won another big victory this year. Based on that history and looking forward, Colorado is now Blue.

  3. caroman says:

    Chuck Todd’s “Daily Rundown” today focused on Obama’s results in Colorado.  They reported the current totals as: Obama 1,322,000 (51.5%) vs. Romney 1,184,000 (46.1%), a 5.4% margin of victory.  

    All the pundits on the panel noted that this was a significant, and surprising by its size, win for Obama and the Dems.  They pointed out that if the GOP cannot compete in states like CO, especially in the CO suburbs, then the GOP has real serious problems.  I couldn’t agree more.

  4. Craig says:

    There is precedent for him to come back and try to reclaim his seat.  Remember when Ken Kramer ran and lost the US Senate seat and then the next year came back and tried to off Joel Hefley?  Well, it didn’t work, but it was done.

  5. Tom says:

    The numbers will keep the seriously ambitious candidates away and won’t encourage much national recruitment. Left to their own devices, the state party is bound to do something wacky. If they could just recruit somebody sensible and not slaughter them in a primary, Udall could be beatable. The dude isn’t the kind of inspirational figure to really pump up the base turnout if the GOP has another big mid-term, especially if the GOP candidate isn’t insane.  

    This race will most likely feature a cocky ultraconservative Coors-type self-funder who will pour enough money into the race to narrow the polling and make for some good horserace theater.  

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  7. Lark says:

    The Republicans have a “secret weapon” candidate to run against Udall they are keeping very quiet.  They claim he is the triple threat because he speaks perfect Spanish (raised in Mexico I think), leads an aerospace industry association in Washington, DC (high-tech jobs) and is a millionaire.   Anyway I was told he was aksed to run against Polis but declined to jump in the primary against Lundberg and Weissman.   What I find interesting is he spoke to the Larimer County Republicans two weeks ago about getting the Hispanic vote and is booked at Rotary clubs in the Springs next month to talk about national security.  I am not sure if it is the same guy but there is also a Liam Weston (same name) who fought with the Angolan rebels in the 80’s and ran guns with Oliver North?  If its the same guy the shady past will hurt him.

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