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August 31, 2007 07:49 PM UTC

Is Udall a Shoo-In? Not So Fast...

  • by: Colorado Pols

The conventional wisdom in the 2008 Senate race holds that Rep. Mark Udall is a clear favorite to defeat Bob Schaffer next fall, but Jeff Bridges at State 38 says the race may not be as easy as it seems:

Republican Sen. Wayne Allard is retiring, and folks in DC believe that five-term Congressman Mark Udall from Boulder Eldorado Springs will handily defeat his ultra-conservative opponent, former 4th District Congressman Bob Schaffer.

The logic goes something like this: In 2004, a terrible year for Democrats nationally, Colorado elected a Democratic U.S. Senator, Ken Salazar, a Democratic Congressman, John Salazar, and took over control of the State House and Senate.  Then two years later we elected a Democratic Governor, Bill Ritter, and grew our Democratic majority in the State House and Senate.  The pundits believe this indicates Colorado has undergone a shift to the political left – that we’re a “blue” state!  Add to this, they believe, the fact that Democrats will host the national convention in Denver and you’ve got a slam dunk for Udall.

So they say in DC.  I think they’re wrong, and Udall’s folks have a very nasty and very tough fight ahead of them.

First, the convention is far more likely to hurt Udall than to help him.  Right now when Coloradans think “Democrat” they think of Bill Ritter and the Salazar brothers.  The convention will feature Democrats like Al Sharpton, Ted Kennedy, and whoever ends up winning the presidential nomination (not Bill Richardson, sorry folks).  They will remind voters that the national Democrats really aren’t all that conservative, and that some of us are downright loopy.  Add to that the hoards of left-wing protestors we’re certain to have flooding our streets with their hippy agenda and the convention is not a good thing for Mark Udall.


57 thoughts on “Is Udall a Shoo-In? Not So Fast…

  1. but I think the “DNC backlash” idea is overstated and shaky.  The convention will be as scripted as ever, and the Denver wingnut pundits will try to make it sound like the Burning Man Festival regardless.  The people that will resonate with already aren’t planning to vote for Udall.

    1. I brought up how these “staw man” theories are just that.

      Bridges is apparently giving into these long shots attempts as valid points making it “brusing” race for Udall. I don’t buy it, and won’t allow the campaign to framed that way.

        1. I won’t allow. I’m not going to sit around and allow someone to get away with saying those things without challenging them.

          I’m not a Ditto Head.

      1. Shaffer doesn’t have to win, thats not how repubs role they just make Dems lose.  You better believe tricky dick and company will throw everything they’ve got at Mark.  It wont be true, but most voters wont know the difference.  Mark will probably win but it will be a lot closer then most bloggers here think.

    2. Here’s the rest of my argument, from

      Secondly, Ken and John Salazar are two of the most popular people in the state.  They might even have higher positives than Brad Pitt, and that was true even before they were elected.  While both ran excellent campaigns in 2004 (especially John since I was his Communications Director) it was always their race to lose.  Despite his dashing good looks and strong family history out West, “Udall” doesn’t have quite the same cachet as “Salazar.”

      Third, on a local level, 2004 worked for Colorado Democrats because we had candidates that reflected the values of their district.  We had great recruiting, a great ground game, and we significantly outspent Republicans.  We did the same in 2006.  Our Democratic legislature reflects a stronger and smarter Democratic party, not a broad political shift to the left.

      Fourth, in case you’ve politely overlooked it, like I have, Bill Ritter is pro-life, pro-gun, and vetoed the best thing organized labor’s passed out of the legislature in years.  I’m quite happy Udall isn’t as conservative, but I don’t think the rest of Colorado shares that feeling.

      Finally, the Republicans have Dick Wadhams on their side again, which scares the hell out of me.  He’s not perfect, but he’s damn good – and nasty.

      So where does that leave Udall?  I still think he still has the advantage, but not by much.  Schaffer has run a truly terrible campaign so far, and Udall’s not the ultra-liberal his opponents will try to make him out to be.  He has a solid pro-military voting record and has reached across the aisle to form consensus around issues that matter to Coloradans.

      But a Salazar or a Ritter he is not.  This race won’t be easy by any means, so dig in and prepare for a bruiser, because this ain’t gonna be pretty.

        1. I’ve experienced few things worse for campaigns than thinking it’s a done deal and then discovering you actually have to work for it.  That kind of shock can destroy the morale of supporters and a very talented staff, which Udall certainly has.

          I’m merely suggesting that this race could easily turn out very differently from how Colorado Democrats – at least publicly – have said they expect it to.  I wrote this as a heads up to over-eager and over-confident Democrats who should prepare for a very dirty and very bruising 2008 Senate race.

      1. You hit it on the head.  Like Rove, he will do anything to win.  So, Udall must be very careful – any mistake and Wadhams (with his access to the the Rocky and DP) will exploit it to the fullest extent.

        I agree, it is going to be a very tough race.

        1. Wadhams isn’t managing BS’s campaign. He not only has to worry about that race, but every other race in Colorado, the DNC and Presidential candidates coming here.

          He’s already been identified as slanderous, disgusting, diahrea of the mouth, let the crap flow type of Republican, so much of what he says and do will only resonate with the small percentage of voters who buy a bridge to nowhere.

          Wadhams is a wash, which is why he’s not running a Presidential right now.

      2. I don’t disagree completely, I just think in the end it amounts to less than you claim.  Thanks for following up here at CoPols.  (Have a great long weekend!)

            1. A campaign manager can do only so much, and when a candidate self destructs the way Allen and Burns did, the manager can just standby and watch the flames burn out.

              Wadhams has won several tough races with mediocre candidates, and it looks like the GOP will run more of the same in 2008. So his job won’t be easy, but it’s a living.

  2. Not a fat chance 3 months later.

    Not a very original line, it doesn’t even deserve blog space.

    Udall may be a bit left of Colorado’s center, but he’s not Mike Miles by a long shot. Coloradans care deeply about the environment, Mark’s record on this issue is excellent.  While not the NRA’s Congressional poster child, he supports hunting and (reasonable) gun ownership. He has ten years in Congress, most of it as as minority member. Yet he has been vocal and active.  Bob has six years, vocal and active, but in the majority. MUCH easier to get things done.

    As middle of the road voters look at J. Salazar, Pearlmutter, and Ritter, they will continue to like them; Udall will ride those coattails.  That will far more offset any smidging remainders of negativity from the convention.

  3. two facts: you don’t know who will be speaking at the convention; and HoDo’s 50-state strategy has been pretty damned successful. The convention will be the topper.

    1. This is exactly why I took issue with Bridges hollow arguments; it’s as if he took all the hopes of dreams of the Cons and jotted them down as real negatives for Udall’s campaign.

      There are other substantial factors that are left out his argument, such as Udall’s campaign manager vs. BS’s, DSCC wanting this seat so bad they can taste against the RNSC not raising the money to be competitive everywhere and will eventually have to make choices about who to help and who to cut; and the very distinct messages coming from Mark and Bob.

  4. Warner just announced he is retiring. This makes his Virginia seat the biggest race for the Senate in ’08. The last one was decided by 0.00000001% (actually not quite that small) And it is presently Repub which tends to make the defending party fight even harder for it. Virginia is the race the Repubs must win to stay relevant for ’08 – ’10.

    And then we have Larry “wide stance” Craig who is resigning in the next day or so. There will almost certainly be a Repub primary for his seat in ’08 and there is a strong Dem candidate so it will be a competitive race. After Tester took Montana everyone will assume this is winnable for us Dems. So again, tons of money and effort needed there.

    So who loses? Bob Schaffer who is figured the least likly Repub to win in ’08. The Repubs don’t have the resources or money to fight everywhere. As of today they have probably already cut him lose in their minds.

    It’s fun to be in the ascendcy….

    1.   First, Gilmore and Davis will be squaring off in a fight for the nomination between the moderate conservatives and the wing nuts.  For extra flavor, maybe Macca Allen will jump into the mix, too.
        The winner (or maybe I should say loser) will have to face Mark Warner in Nov.
        Now when will Jeanne Shaheen be announcing her challenge to Little Sununu in N.H.?

      1. Shaheen seems like a likely challenger to Sununu, and that’s just going to be a drubbing.  If I were the GOP, I’d give up on that before I gave up on Colorado and Bob Schaffer.

        Mark Warner vs. someone to be named at a later date is not a good contest for the GOP, but unless that someone is Gilmore, it’s not going to be a cakewalk for Gov. Warner.

        1. Warner Vs. Davis will be a very tough fight.  Davis would probably win in the general he is a hell of a campaigner and will get a lot of swing voters in northen VA.  Problem is Gilmore may kick Davis’s ass in the primary and he can dump his presidential money into his new senate campaign.

    2. The spin generated by the Udall predestination argument leads to the best counterpoint to my argument I’ve heard so far: “Bob Schaffer who is figured the least likly Repub to win in ’08. The Repubs don’t have the resources or money to fight everywhere. As of today they have probably already cut him lose in their minds.”

      As long as the Rs believe they can’t win in Colorado, they probably won’t.  I also have to give a shout-out to the progressive groups in this state like ProgressNow and Media Matters, who did a fantastic job taking down Beauprez, McInnis, and now Schaffer.  They’ve made a huge difference in Colorado, and working on campaigns in other states I really feel their absence and appreciate what they do even more.

  5. The convention will be stage managed start to finish.

    This will not be like the old Democratic conventions such as the 1972 affair in Miami.  The only time Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and the others will be speaking will be early in the morning when the reporters will be nursing their hangovers from the night before.

    Whether it is Hilary, Obama, Edwards or someone else it will be a coronation. Only those Democrats who poll well with the undecided voters will be seen or heard from

    1. With the compressed primary schedule and at least three contenders who will likely come away with a significant number of delegates, the convention *could* be a free-for-all if no-one manages to pull out a majority of delegates.

      If someone does manage to collect the votes, then I agree.

      1. All of the front runners will want only moderate voices speaking. The Chicago convention was a disaster because the party was tearing itself apart.

        The party now is very together. We have disagreements and may have an open vote but we agree on the big problems that need to be addressed and the general guidelines of how to address them.

  6. Part of the hill that Schaffer will have to climb is the view, as expressed in the quote above, that he is “ultra-conservative”.

    The definition of “ultra-conservative” can change from person to person, and clearly Schaffer is a conservative. But when I think of “ultra”, I think of people like Doug “Peter Principle” Lamborn calling constituents and trying to get a meeting as “brothers and sisters in Christ.”

    Schaffer is an observant Catholic, but the issues that he campaigns on and which he cares about the government dealing with revolve around national security, limited government, low taxes, and liberty.

    Unlike Lamborn, for example, Schaffer is not on the campaign trail talking incessantly about abortion, gay marriage, or other social issues even though he has his own strong views on them.  And while he might vote the conservative position on such an issue should it arise, it’s exceptionally unlikely that he’d take (waste) his time championing one when he knows there are much more important issues to deal with.

    Also, although he’s personally conservative in his views on social issues, Schaffer has a wide libertarian streak that makes him much more reticent than anyone I would call an “ultra-conservative” to use government to enforce those views on others.

    So, in my view, Schaffer is a conservative but far from what most people would think of as “ultra-conservative”. However, the public perception is the latter, and it’s something he’s going to have to work very hard to overcome.

    On the bright side for Schaffer, he is far smarter and more eloquent than Mark Udall and I expect that every debate opportunity will be of benefit to Schaffer and a negative for Udall.  Schaffer can use those debates to show Coloradoans that he is not “ultra-conservative” and that he is the only one of the two with the strength of both character and intellect to represent Colorado in the US Senate, especially during such interesting times.

    1. He’s on the record with some ultra-conservative views. He might shy from speaking them now but unless Udall decides to take a kid’s gloves approach you can bet that those views are going to be in TV and radio ads and in mailers. Similarly I expect Schaffer and/or his 527 allies to make a big deal out of Udall’s one-time co-sponsoring of Kucinich’s Dept of Peace bill (the only thing on Udall’s record that I know of that can be characterized as ultra-liberal).

      1. Udall’s uncle was Secretary of the Interior in JFK’s administration and Udall’s mother was a peace corps volunteer in Tibet  (not sure of the country.)  That all speaks to mainstream dem party ideals…could work to his advantage.

    2. I’m a political junky and have followed Schaeffer’s career for more than 10 years.

      To me, he’s a Repulsive Republican Radical. The assessment that he’s not is very interesting and suggests that BS may be trying to shake his troubling image. Whether he can do that without upsetting his RRR base remains to be seen.

      There is no question that BS is smart and a strong campaigner. Even with that, he couldn’t beat Coors, who’s a boob. I can’t compare BS with MU, whom I”ve never heard speak.

      If BS can shake his RRR reputation, he’ll beat MU. If not, MU will win, imho.

      The anti-Republican tide is still strong in this state. The GOP needs strong candidates to turn the tide, but so far none seem to be strong enough to do the job.

    1. I think we could nominate Kucinch and still win but with Hillary it will be a blow-out. Those that hate her are voting Republican anyways.

      One of the major reasons the Clintons drive the right up the wall is they win.

    2. Hillary hasn’t lost an election yet. The tricks the right wing used to demonize hillary can and will be applied to whichever dem wins the nomination.  The only difference with the clintons is they have proved they can stand up to and beat the right wing hate machine.  All the other dems a risk because we don’t really know if they can stand up to it.

              1. …it may be easier, but it still ain’t easy.  There probably were primary challengers to get past, too.

                The race that he ran and lost was to unseat an incumbent.  Much harder than an open seat.

                    1. and she’s been ring side for decades of repub ass whooping in a red state, not to mention being first lady.  She has a life time of political experannce and is ready for whatever swiftboat type ads they throw at her.  The others big ??? maybe they can maybe they can’t.  The stakes are to important to take a chance.

  7. A little bit of history: In 1968, the first generation of boomers was graduating from college, losing their student deferments and facing being drafted into a blood bath in Vietnam.  Kids without deferments were eligible for the draft at 18 and were being drafter around the age of 19.  The voting age was 21.

    The anti-war movement was sparked by college kids coming of voting age at the same time they were facing the draft. Gene McCarthy capitalized on this with  his candidacy.  When Bobby Kennedy got into the race, he split the anti-war group. LBJ, facing all this opposition to his war policies, decided not to run and this made for a real fight within the democratic party.  It was a good fight. It was a debate about national priority and goals and the dems should be congratulated, over and over, for providing the proper forum for that needed debate.  Then, Bobby got his head blown off.  The whole gd party went to hell.

    Violence always works…in the short run.

    The repubs picked up the pieces, Nixon got rid of the draft, for all pratical purposes and the country gave 18 year olds the right to vote….

    The democratic party should approach any discussion of 1968 with reverence ….that was a time of honor and incredible tragedy.  The conditions, today, are not the same.  Although, the decisions may rise to historic levels about war and peace.

      1. Thanks for the perspective.  It wasn’t just tough for the dems, it was a horrible year for Americans….and again, we came through with our constitution intact.

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