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December 14, 2007 07:57 PM UTC

That's Waak

  • 18 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak on Wednesday publicly did exactly what she and her supporters had long accused former Dem Party Chair Chris Gates of doing in 2004 – she publicly got involved in a potential Democratic Primary. From Colorado Confidential:

“For years, I would have said primaries are great for a discussion of the issues,” Waak said. “But when I watched what happened with Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm in the 7th Congressional District and the amount of money that took, we’re much better off without primaries in 2008.”

The Perlmutter-Lamm Congressional primary in 2006 was not only expensive; it was acrimonious with both candidates using negative attack ads to disparage the other.

[Mark] Benner probably wouldn’t have the money to do that to Udall. But Waak fears his attempt to get on the primary ballot might divide her party before a general election in a critical race to maintain and extend Democratic control of the Senate.

It is the job of a Party Chair to try to sort out internal fights – but that is before they become public. Once candidates publicly announce their intentions, Party Chairs should not publicly pick a side. And Waak looks particularly ridiculous here because she rode to power on the cries of wrongdoing about Gates. Gates’ so-called interference in the Ken SalazarMike Miles primary was her sole reason for running for Party Chair. “For years I have said that primaries are great for a discussion of the issues,” she says now. Whatever.

Comparing a potential Benner-Udall primary to the Perlmutter-Lamm tussle is also completely unnecessary. We’ll say it again: Benner is not a serious candidate. Benner’s candidacy, whether he actually runs or not, is completely irrelevent. Waak says she is worried that Benner might divide Democrats, but Benner can’t even figure out where he is supposed to file his campaign paperwork. For all her failures as a candidate, Lamm raised a lot of money and had the ability to get her message out. The only people who will even know the existence of Benner are the most dedicated of the Democratic caucus-goers.  

In fact, publicly trying to dissuade him only gives the appearance that he matters in this contest. Benner will likely have no money, no real campaign and no impact on the U.S. Senate race, so Waak shouldn’t even bother with this. Waak is wrong here, as Dick Wadhams was wrong to dismiss Wayne Wolf (and as Bob Martinez was wrong to diss Marc Holtzman), but at least Wolf wasn’t a complete joke as a potential candidate. And at least Wadhams never pretended to be impartial.

Comments

18 thoughts on “That’s Waak

  1. It will screw up things for the down ballot candidates in denver, for what will amount to a vanity campaign.

    I await Dan to explain the impact on the cauus.

    BTW Mike Miles was not a vanity campaign.  He ran a decent race for having little funding.

    1. The principal impact is on the selection of delegates to county and state assemblies.

      Our state rules are to select our assembly delegates on the highest contested race. Without a contested US Senate race, Denver would be doing their delegate selection on legislative races because we have no elected county officials and the DA and Congressional seats are not contested this year.

      I believe Pueblo might be in the same situation as they have a potentionally heated primary contest warming up in Dorothy Butcher’s former House Seat.

      For other counties this could affect different races depending where they may have potential primaries. One that comes to mind right away is CD2. Some counties select their Congressional Assembly delegates from the Caucus and some do it from their County Assembly. If any of the counties in CD2 select from the County Assembly (I’m not sure of each county’s procedure), then at that county’s Caucuses they will be forced to use the US Senate race, despite it being generally acknowledged as not a serious race.

      The end result is having down-ticket candidates, in serious primaries, walking into situations which will dictate if they get on the ballot or not, without a clear view of how much support they, and their rivals have. Meanwhile, we have the people running these assemblies going through the arduous process of taking votes and parcelling out delegates based on a race that no one is taking seriously.

        1. My son interrupted my train of thought and I forgot to add the usual Colorado civic lesson:

          Colorado has a dual delegate selection process that goes on at the same time: the Assembly AND Convention.

          The Convention process is solely for the election of National Delegates (and ultimately the nomination of our presidential candidate), and the election of the presidential electors.

          The Assembly handles all other offices, whether state, federal, or county.  

  2. Waak’s election would not have happened if she only ran on the Miles campaign issue; she also received significant support from rural counties who felt left out by the state party, and she courted that vote.

    Having said that, Waak’s statement was unwise at best; the party officers’ role – no matter how much they may dislike it – is to stay out of the primary process as much as possible.

  3. Primaries are good for a healthy party.  A primary gives the eventual candidate experience campaining and practice discussing controversies.  Primaries allow the party members to effect the direction of the party.  And money is not that much of an issue.  The Dem candidate will have no trouble getting hismessage out.

    If Pat Waak wants to make herself useful, she could concentrate on encouraging candidates to stay positive and focused on the issues.

      1. but hasn’t Udall only had one tough election?  Seems to be a little more practice wouldn’t hurt his campaigning skills.

        A tough primary could hurt the party, but it’s not like Udall has  been tested all that much.

        1. The GOP equivalent would be running Charlie Duke or Janet Rowland against Bob Schaffer.  Schaffer would actually start looking like a moderate conservative.

  4. I was talking to a party officer once and he asked me if I thought it would be ok if he made an endorsement in a contested primary.

    I said that he did not lose his 1st amendment rights when taking the job, but that really the only reason his endorsement was going to carry any weight was because of the office he held, and that office was not for his personal use. He was a steward of that office that had been entrusted to him by the voters and he really should allow them to make the choices they wanted.

    In this case, though, I don’t think Waak is showing a personal preference for a candidate. I think she believes there really only is one candidate and is trying to guide a strategy for a Dem victory. Because Brenner has no shot, she feels a bit more ok about getting involved.

    1. What the cut off is?  What level does one need to be at in order to make an endorsement or not?  Can precinct people make an endorsement?  District Chairman?  Who?

      1. Disclaimer: I can only answer for Democrats, and then mostly only for Denver.

        We have gotten this question a lot in Denver due to the heavily contested legislative races we have. There is not hard and fast rules, but the State and County Chairs do have a certain amount of authority over the officers of smaller districts under them.

        We (Denver’s Dem. Officers) have taken a general position of not publically supporting anyone potentially in a primary that affects Denver (except Pres, due to having to declare preference to run as a National Delegate).

        Precinct committee people are free to do as they like as far as supporting candidates. The gray area comes in that group of people who fall in between. We strongly urge our district captains to stay neutral, and recommend they resign if they are going to take an active part in a primary in their own district, but generally leave up to their own sense of propriety whether they do that or not.

  5. I think Udall should run unopposed. At the same time I don’t like party leaders like Waak making public statements like this. It makes the party look bad because it takes away from the democratic selection process for candidates. Parties are fully within their rights to simply decide candidates…but if they are going to open it up to all voters in the party, the leadership should stay out of it.

    1. Udall has been consistently sticking his thumb in the eye of the left wing of the Democratic Party and then he sends out emails demanding money for his campaign.

      There was a good discussion at firedoglake a few weeks ago about what are you going to do when confronted with the option of voting for a Bush lap dog or a Republican high on evangelicals.  The theme of the thread was that you aren’t going to vote for the crazy but you aren’t crazy about voting to get your nose rubbed in more MoveOn.org censures.  The summation of the article was that you get better Democrats by running progressive candidates in primaries to force the party favorite to recognize the values of their party or get replaced.

      I could see Udall making a principled stand that he had seen the reports as a member of the House Armed Services committee and he believed that our country’s war machine deserved more time to correct the financial and humanitarian fiasco in Iraq.  The fact that he deals with his support for keeping the war machine humming by avoiding any contact with his constituents is more than troubling.  Gary Hart has the bonafides to call out Udall on his support for Bush’s occupation and the charisma to win a statewide election.

      Bob Schaffer aka the invisible man has the potential to make Wayne Allard look like a thoroughbred.  The state doesn’t need anymore knuckle dragging government hating government employees so we’re stuck with Udall as our nominee even though he oozes shallowness and disdain for his constituents.

      Waak is clearly trying to resurrect the back room deals of the past where the party professionals fearful that the masses will vote their conscience try to rig a election so that only the party favorite can win.  This is bad policy and bad for Democracy.  You have to have faith in the people that they will nominate the candidate that best represents their views.  A party favorite who takes the money then ignores the people who supported him aren’t doing the progressive movement any favors.  It is better to lose an election and wait for better candidates then elect a putz like Salazar and then stand around and go WTF did he do that for.  Primaries are the best way to cull out the herd and find candidates who motivate the public.  Waak has been corrupted by her position and in turn has corrupted it.

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