For a relative latecomer to politics, Michael Bennet sure has led a charmed life. Prior to politics he was a Big Money guy working for one of Colorado's leading Conservatives. Then…
As one of President Barack Obama's early advisers on education issues, Bennet was speculated in late 2008 as a frontrunner for Obama's United States Secretary of Education. He was instead appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar when Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in January 2009. Bennet was elected in the 2010 Senate election where he defeated Republican Ken Buck.
Michael Bennet is now serving his first full term and would be up for reelection in 2016.
Though he is fairly new to public elective office, he has proven to be a consummate insider and competent press manipulator. He played an effective, yet widely criticized role, in the early machinations that led to a Public Option-less Obamacare. He had to lift nothing besides a well timed press release in that effort. Bennet's latest political responsibility has been deemed a failure by many.
As Chairman of the DSCC for this last election cycle, Bennet led Senate Democrats into a historic minority and proved useless in electing his Democratic peer, former Senator Mark Udall. But he was still able to get some favorable press immediately after the losing election.
And the charmed life, or at least the favorable press, continued yesterday as Bennet got a top mention as a Veep possibility for the almost pre-ordained Hillary Clinton presidency:
The potential opposition is so weak that Clinton might wind up not even debating during the primaries, which many Democrats view as a mixed blessing.
Some advisers expect a push for diversity on the ticket. So the shortlist also is expected to include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and perhaps California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate.The Clinton team knows it can’t campaign with the swagger of a presumptive nominee because the air of inevitability was so damaging last time around. That said, some advisers are already privately talking up potential running mates, with Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Kaine of Virginia dominating the early speculation.
Despite the internal confidence, Clinton won’t enter without substantial concerns and obstacles, some of which are self-evident to her top advisers and are a subject of constant conversation among Democrats during the build-up phase.
The Democratic Party, and its leaders, are going through some public soul-searching after all this electoral excitement. The big, and probably only, question for me is whether Democrats will continue their love affair with Big Money at the expense of The Middle Class or will they start giving priority to those who helped America's economy become the titan it is – the true Job Creators.
Michael Bennet has been eerily silent since the election. He's surely playing it safe and hoping not to kill any of this flattering VP talk. But his history and his path don't tell of someone who has the same concern for those in the middle of our economy as he does for those at the top of the heap who are on his Favorites list. Can he even contemplate the policies being proposed by Sanders and Warren? Would he dare support any of them?
Michael Bennet, and his benefactors, are going to have to make a critical choice soon about continuing that decades-long affair with 1%-er Democrats at the expense of a declining Middle Class. Those Middle Classers can't afford big campaign donations, and have been less than enthusiastic about voting for a class of Democratic politicians who think they have no where else to go on election day. But even though they don't have the money, they've freely given their votes to Democrats without asking too much in return.
That ask is getting bigger lately, and elected Democrats will have to come up with satisfactory answers that address rising inequality, the effects of austerity on the world's economies, and the base assumptions about who our economy should protect and serve. Those answers need to come sooner, rather than later, and should spell out how the richest among us can start paying their fair share again while taking the load off the hardest working Middle Class on the planet. No joke.