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March 14, 2008 11:02 PM UTC

Schaffer Stays Silent

  • by: Colorado Pols

Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is still doing his best to avoid talking about anything. As Mike Saccone of The Grand Junction Sentinel writes in his “Political Notebook”:

As nearly every major political figure in Colorado sounded off Thursday on the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to disregard Gov. Bill Ritter’s widely praised plan to develop the Roan Plateau, Senate candidate Bob Schaffer as silent on the issue.

Multiple messages Political Notebook left with Schaffer’s chief campaign adviser, Dick Wadhams, have gone unanswered…

…We have written before, Schaffer’s silence has been a largely strategic coup for Schaffer. In October, we wrote: “For Schaffer and the GOP, his silence is – to use a tried and tired cliche – golden. Schaffer’s silence while he works to build up his base ahead of what is certain to be an intensely competitive contest should be frustrating for Democrats and political reporters. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea if you want to keep free from early inning errors.”

That said, the November election is less than nine months away. … We’ll leave it to others to say when Schaffer’s silence becomes a liability, but at some point the silence will wear thin, if not on the public than on the press.

We’re not knocking the strategy here. When you’re the 14th most conservative congressman of the past 70 years in a state that has elected moderates in each of the past two elections, it certainly doesn’t help to speak out about anything. But Saccone’s point at the end is sound: “At some point the silence will wear thin, if not on the public than on the press.”

Schaffer campaign manager/czar Dick Wadhams  has used the silent treatment before in statewide races in Colorado (see: Allard, Wayne), but the dawn of online media makes it harder to do that in 2008. This strategy is probably fine for now, so long as the media doesn’t start really focusing on the fact that Schaffer isn’t saying anything. But at some point, Schaffer is going to have to choose between staying silent and being labeled as someone who won’t stand up for his beliefs.


18 thoughts on “Schaffer Stays Silent

  1. Schaffer is smart enough to know that when he opens his mouth, he won’t be able to control what comes out. Apart from giving ProgressNow something to do, Schaffer’s silence has only hurt him with certain localized single-issue constituencies, such as ranchers around Pinon Canyon.

    But it also helps explain the complete lack of buzz or interest in Schaffer’s candidacy. Dick Wadhams can run his old playbook of trying to make the election about Dick Wadhams, but at some point Bob’s going to have to drag it together, get his ass off the bench and get in  the game.  

  2. Because his name recognition outside his base is about zero. Once Udall starts pounding him, all of his name recognition will be wrapped up in the accusations.

    I think he’s toast regardless but this sure isn’t helping his chances. Unless he’s another BWB where everytime he opens his mouth he shoots himself in the foot.

    1. Schaffer’s name recognition isn’t zero out side of his district-don’t forget that he ran for the Senate before.

      Sure, Schaffer has an up-hill fight against Udall, but I still think that it’ll be close

  3.    Since the infamous Macaca episode in Wadhams’ last race, the Dickster has probably started requiring each of his clients to sign an oath in blood never to open his or her mouth at any point during the campaign.

  4. Dick Wadhams could have signed on much earlier to be campaign manager for Bob Schaffer. He signed on now because he knows that Schaffer has a great chance at winning.

    Wadhams is really not that good. Just ask Senator Daschle, Senator Strickland and Governor Schoettler.  

  5. A whole lot of big wins for Wadhams.

    Considine came very close in 1992 and Wadhams has not lost in Colorado since than.

    Schoettler had a huge lead in 1998 which Owens erased in a very Democratic year nationally. George Allen self destructed. I guess we can hold our breath and hope for a mistake by Schaffer.

  6. And Schoettler and Owens were pretty much dead even from Sept all the way to election day, that said I agree Wadhams and Schaffer are very much in this.

    Udall is actually just as silent as Schaffer the guy is invisable for a sitting Congressman.

    Why is Udall laying low?

    1. I don’t know the history on Schaffer but Udall has had an incredibly safe seat forever. He could go vacation in Hawaii for the last 4 weeks of the election and still win.

      We may have 2 candidates here who don’t understand what they need to do to win a statewide competitive race. In that case, it’s whoever learns faster.

      1.    When he was first elected, Udall had a very tough general election race against a RINO named Bob Greenlee, the former mayor of Boulder.

          The closest thing Schaffer ever had to a competitive general election was when he lost to Gail Schoettler in the ’94 Lt. Gov’s race.  But in that case, his and Schoettler’s fates were tied to whatever happened in the Benson vs. Romer gubernatorial race.

        1.    IIRC, Benson-Schaffer lost to Romer-Schoettler by a margin comparable to that by which Both Ways and Beastiality Rant Rowland lost to Ritter in ’06.

            I mentioned his ’94 run because it was the closest thing to a level playing field on which he’s ever played.  

            His runs in C.D. 4 were blow-outs back in the late ’90s.  It was only when Musty came along that C.D. 4 started to get competitive for the Dems!

  7. One when he ran for the State House and also when he ran the first time for the 2nd CD when it used to be competitive. I think he won both by less than 1%.

    1. 1998 was a great year for Democrats nationally as they gained a large number of seats in the House and a couple in the Senate. Udall had a very tough primary and general his first term but has not been targeted since.

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