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December 10, 2007 06:53 PM UTC

Udall May Have Primary Challenge...If He Figures Out How

  • by: Colorado Pols

An anti-war activist lefty Democrat apparently plans to challenge Democrat Mark Udall for the nomination to the U.S. Senate…provided that he can figure out how to actually do that. From Colorado Confidential:

A member of Colorado’s Democratic executive committee and state central committee said Friday night that he intends to run against Congressman Rep. Mark Udall for the U.S. Senate nomination.

Mark Benner said he intends to file paperwork with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Senate. Benner sent an announcement of his candidacy to the Udall campaign, but has yet to file required paperwork to make it official.

“I would do this not to run against Mark Udall so much as to run on issues,” Benner said in an interview Friday night at Colorado Democratic headquarters…

…said Benner, “I don’t want to go down as the Ralph Nader of Colorado Democrats,” referring to the consumer advocate whose third-party presidential campaign likely cost Democrats the White House in 2000.

But even Benner admits that isn’t likely. He has no illusions about winning. He helps lead the Colorado Democrats’ left wing and wants to provoke a discussion. He did much the same thing in a 2002 state senate race against Republican Mark Hillman. Benner played the role of the loyal opposition and got 27 percent of the votes.

A primary would be a distraction in what could become an expensive Senate campaign.

With apologies to Jim Spencer, Benner has a long ways to go to even be a minor distraction. He won’t be “Colorado’s Ralph Nader” unless he was planning on running as a third-party candidate, because once Udall trounces him in the primary the effect on the general election will be nil. As a primary challenger, Benner is more Larry Johnson than Mike Miles, and even Miles got drilled in the primary against Ken Salazar.

Benner is also no Wayne Wolf, who was only a story when he discussed running against Bob Schaffer because State GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams and others publicly dismissed him. Wolf was only slightly taken seriously because he was actually an elected official (Delta County Commissioner), and now he is running for CD-3. We’re not saying that Benner shouldn’t run, but he definitely shouldn’t be taken seriously just yet.

Benner isn’t going to get much attention by the press, nor should he, but even if he does you could make a case that Benner actually helps Udall in a general election because he makes him appear more moderate. As it is, Benner’s attempt at trying to “bring up issues” is mostly irrelevant, and he may never make it to the starting line anyway.

Udall’s campaign manager, Mike Melanson, said he wouldn’t comment on Benner’s candidacy until the paperwork was filed.

“We are aware (of Benner),” Melanson said. “I would not be surprised if he ran. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t run.”

Benner says that he plans to file with the Secretary of State, but we’re not sure what Condoleeza Rice will do with his application. Yes, we’re joking, but running for Senate is a federal office that requires filing with the FEC, not the Colorado Secretary of State.



41 thoughts on “Udall May Have Primary Challenge…If He Figures Out How

  1. Benner wants to run against a fellow DEM to talk about the issues. What a joke… I bet he is a part of the group that conducts protests at Udall’s office. Issues… Udall has been against the war from the beginning… What a joke, you’re hurting our party Benner, even if it’s miniscule…

      1. It’s called a democracy. Kudos to those that tilt at windmills. And the base needs a standard bearer to call out Udall’s oh so careful stance on the war.

        So way to go Mark and Pols – get him up on the big line ASAP.

        1. These are desperate times. Let the Rs run vanity and message campaigns.  We need every penny we can find directed like a laser toward getting every Dem we can into the House and Senate.  We’re going to need a  SOLID majority if we don’t take back the White House  or even if we DO take it back to put a lid on Republican obstruction.  

          How do you think we wound up on the outside looking in for so many years in the first place?  We can have tea parties where we all join hands and celebrate our plethora of holier-than-thou purist interest groups later.  

          1. What will it take to make you happy? In Colorado we control the executive and the leg. In DC we will take the presidency and gain in the house & senate.

            In terms of money we have way more then the Repubs do across the board. The Repubs are fighting to keep seats that are R+10.

            And finally, keep in mind what happened in ’04 when the argument was fall in behind Kerrey, that we couldn’t afford a primary fight. We got someone who was not prepared to fight in the general election.

            1. that taking the White House with Hillary Clinton or getting just any Dem elected to the Senate from Colorado,EVEN UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES, is going to be a cake walk you are deluded.  

              We need to take congress with the BIGGEST majority we possibly can.  You’ve seen how cowardly our congressional Dems, with their slim lead are.  The only way to give them some balls and dilute the negative power of the blue dogs is to elect as many reasonably progressive Dems as possible. Especially if the public rejects Hillary for President.  Udall is certainly progressive enough.  Hell,  hasn’t he always been billed as the dreaded Boulder Liberal?  

              The less money we need to spend getting him to DC, the more we can spend where it is more needed.  Benner isn’t going to DC.  Even he knows it.  I repeat, this is no time for message campaigns.

            2. If anyone was the front-runner and getting the “fall in behind” argument anywhere near the first caucuses and primaries, it was Dean.  Kerry was a solid 3rd in Iowa for a good month before the caucuses and it was only a 10-day run that saw him leap Dean and Gephardt to win.  Even after the “Comeback Kerry” moment, he still had to deal w/ Edwards and Clark who, as you should recall, won SC and OK.  Kerry was plenty well tested to face Bush; he just ran a bad campaign.

              Anyway, I do agree that if Benner wants to run, then fire away.  If Udall loses in the general it won’t be because of Benner’s weak challenge in a primary.  Like you said, it’s called democracy…

              1. Nobody thinks Benner represents ANY kind of serious challenge.  I’m talking about the fact that there is a finite universe of money for senatorial races nation-wide. Money not needed in one place can be spent in another.  Comparing Benner’s status and situation to the run up to the 2004 presidential is ridiculous.  

                As I said, even Benner knows he has no chance and is therefore not running to actually be elected.  I don’t see, with a perfectly acceptable candidate like Udall, what value there is  in a vanity, message candidate.    

                I’m certainly not advocating any official ban or draconian measurers here, so I’m pretty confident my opinion is no threat to democracy.  He has every right to run and I have every right to express my opinion that his running is stupid and useless.

                1. …can sit Benner down (a la Dick Wadhams) and persuade him to put his name forward as sacraficial lamb in C.D. 5 or 6.  She can also announce that given the amount of money Mark has raised to date, he is the de facto nominee.

                    As it stands right now, the Dems can claim to have two candidates interested in that seat while the GOP can’t even get one to announce his candidacy without taking it back.

          1. that unless politico warrior is actually in charge of, or influential in, the state’s Democratic Party, it’s not exactly a valid comparison. But it is the same mentality.

          2. When a commenter on a blog states an opinion it’s opinion. When the chairman of the state party declares someone’s candidacy as nonexistent, it’s strong-arming.

              1. It’s not something people who make politics their vocation seem to understand as clearly as the people who vote, on either side of the aisle (one of many things):

                Winning has replaced the perspective on what’s really important even within parties.

                1. This is an opinion and only an opinion, but it is based on the reasoning Benner made in jumping into the race “the issues”. The issues are going to be raised with or without him in the race, the only difference is going to be another headache for Dem’s. If Benner is that head-strong with his particular issue, I would advise him to assist in running against Musgrave or supporting Udall. At the end of the day this is an unnecessary pipe dream… But on a side note, strong arming isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially when it’s against someone like radical-righty “BS”.

                    1. I don’t even know if this guy has held office, let alone anything close to a state-wide position. All of a sudden, due to the “issues” he decides to run for a Senate seat. Why is he doing this, besides hurting his party? If someone is qualified, then lets fight it out…

                      The art of strong-arming can take many shapes and words, but at the end of the day, it’s all about Sun TZU tactics. More importantly, it is used against your enemies not your alliances.

        1. The GOP actually had a hispanic centered debate!! I think they lost more votes than they gained with their radical, anti-everyone but the wealthy party talking points. I can’t wait to see who votes for the GOP now; Hmmm, Hmmm, not too many left except for the poor folks who are tricked into voting against their interests based on fear tactics… Big tent… Hmmm

  2. Udall should welcome this “challenge.” Benner claims that he is left of Udall, while Republicans claim that Udall is a Boulder liberal. A simple primary battle from someone more extreme should help establish Udall as a moderate Dem and help win over independents.  

      1. plus I am grateful that he is not running as an I, there people upset w/ Udall voting to keep funding this war that would vote for a left Independent.  

  3. Wouldn’t know Mark Benner if he walked up and slapped me, but I implore him to not do this, and for very technical reasons.

    Many of the Counties have already begun their Caucus Training (Denver’s first session is tonight). Without a state-wide contested race we have already begun training people to base their delegate selection from Caucuses to County Assemblies on lower races that may be contested. If there is a challenge in the US Senate race, we MUST use that race to determine our delegates.

    In Denver, I have 9 House Districts, 6 of them are currently contested within the party, so those are the races that we are curently using for Delegate selection. It is unfair to those candidates, who have spent the better part of the past two months campaigning with that structure in mind.

    So I hope Mark Benner does not file paperwork and does not choose this course. If he wishes to continue to run and take up specific issues, then please by-pass the Caucus/Assembly system so you don’t mess up those caniddates who are truly running to win seats. This means petitioning on to the ballot.

    1. Have them all selected as Udall and the state house district? After all almost all will go Udall.

      And if not, work to change the system but while we have these rules, live with them. Democracy is not supposed to be prefect, just the least bad alternative.

      1. There is only one preference poll that counts when it comes to electing delegates to the County Assembly, and that’s the highest-level contested non-Presidential race.  All other polls are just straw polls.

        There is a lot of doubt that Benner could collect the 10% he needs to get past the petition ban threshold, but he’d have an easier go of it than organizing statewide to petition on to the ballot, I think.

      1. They would still find a way to the most inefficient process available.  🙂

        Any city organization that begins with such a farce (the Webb…er..O’Malley appointment/election that cost more than a half million dollars) is destined to be a joke for many years.

    2. But if a person is going to upset this applecart they should do it before it has taken off.

      7 weeks before caucuses is too close, and requires many of the counties and campaigns to change their plans for how to conduct their primaries.

      For example, I already had a master copy of the numerous documents that will go into our 426 caucus packets. If Benner goes forward with this plan, I will have to re-do several of them.

  4. Here’s something that someone brought up to me last night:

    Would Benner, if he files, be running in the caucuses or via petition?  If he runs in the caucuses, this will alter the caucus process significantly…

    The one race it will alter most significantly is the CD-2 race, which is in Benner’s home district.  Is Benner a partisan for one of the CD-2 candidates, and if so, does his move make a significant difference in the election of CD-2 delegates?  (It certainly does in my county…)

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