The Colorado Statesman newspaper sends out a daily email about Colorado Politics called “The Hot Sheet” that includes links to political items of interest. “The Hot Sheet” is similar to an email version of Get More Smarter, which we started here at Colorado Pols in early 2015, but with the occasional foray into longer-form editorializing.
“The Hot Sheet” is penned by Statesman Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jared Wright, a former Republican State Representative from Grand Junction, and in today’s edition Wright drops in from left field with a memo/essay about the 13-person Republican Senate field that he apparently believes must be trimmed down immediately:
GOP U.S. Sen. candidates who should drop out … now — Memo: While some might think thirteen candidates running for U.S. Senate is an endearing exercise in Democracy, it is no way to ignite a coup at the ballot box against incumbent Michael Bennet, who has a $6.7 million war chest at his fingertips. Eleven candidates seated at a table longer than a circus train in Montrose last weekend was an embarrassment to the GOP and a testament to the overwhelming power of personal ego contributing to pointless acts of vanity. [Pols emphasis]
This should be no more than a seven person race. To those candidates who are in this to pass down stories to their grandkids, lob a Hail Mary pass at a long-shot political career, or notch an item on their bucket list, seriously … move on to skydiving or something. If you want to have a real general election race, let’s actually prepare for a real general election race.
We certainly won’t argue that 13 candidates seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate is a bit ridiculous, but so is trying to narrow the list down to seven candidates in early March. Wright seems concerned that such a large field of candidates is making the Republican Party look silly at candidate forums held in Denver and Montrose, but from what we’ve seen, the “bigger name” candidates are just as likely as Charlie Ehler to let loose with some idiotic comment. We watched the entire 2+ hour debate at the University of Denver on February 11 — which we chronicled in a two-part Debate Diary — and nobody on stage looked worse than NRSC recruit Jon Keyser. In fact, little-known El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn was probably the most impressive candidate on the stage in Denver that evening. The entire GOP field is making the Republican Party look silly — everybody is guilty here.
We also have a few weeks to go until the end of the Q1 fundraising period, which will be our first chance to see hard numbers from every candidate in the race (several candidates, remember, didn’t enter the race until January, which was after the last campaign finance reporting deadline for the Senate race). We wouldn’t expect Michael Kinlaw or Tom Janich to report that they have amassed a sizable warchest, but at the same time, we have no idea how much money will be raised by candidates such as Keyser, Jack Graham, and Jerry Natividad. None of the GOP candidates are blessed with strong name ID (state Sen. Tim Neville is perhaps the most well-known name of the bunch), which means it is going to take a lot of money for this group to introduce itself to Republican voters with just 13 weeks until Primary ballots are mailed.
According to Wright in “The Hot Sheet,” the following 6 candidates should drop out of the race immediately (if not soon): Charlie Ehler, Jerry Eller, Darryl Glenn, Tom Janich, Michael Kinlaw, and Don Rosier.
Conversely, Wright believes that this group of 7 candidates should remain in the field: Tim Neville, Jerry Natividad, Jack Graham, Jon Keyser, Peg Littleton, Robert Blaha, and Ryan Frazier.
Now, most of Wright’s group of 6 are likely to be weeded out on their own, but Darryl Glenn (caucus/convention process) and Don Rosier (signature gathering) may both make the ballot. We think Glenn is the most likely candidate to finish as the runner-up (to Neville) at the State Republican Assembly on April 9, so it seems silly that he would consider jumping out of the race when he’s just weeks away from finding out if his name will be on the ballot in June. Rosier has been in the Senate race longer than most of the candidates, so he’s had plenty of time to gather the required number of petition signatures for June ballot access, though we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Rosier came up short.
Now, back to the other list. Jerry Natividad and Peg Littleton are both seeking ballot access through the caucus/convention route. Neville will almost certainly make the 30% threshold for ballot access, so at most there can only be two other candidates (from among Glenn, Natividad, and Littleton) who could potentially squeak through. Graham, Keyser, Blaha, and Frazier are seeking ballot access via the petition route, with signatures due on April 4; all four candidates could conceivably gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot, but if recent Colorado history is any indication, it’s more likely that half the group won’t make the cut.
So, while Wright would like to see the field cut down by six candidates right now, we’d wager that the GOP Senate field will naturally weed itself down to about 6 candidates by mid-April:
- Tim Neville (caucus/convention)
- Darryl Glenn (caucus/convention)
- Jerry Natividad OR Peg Littleton (caucus/convention)
- Jack Graham (petitions)
- Robert Blaha (petitions)
- Jon Keyser OR Ryan Frazier (petitions)
There’s one other important piece to remember in this discussion: If the June 28th Primary features 6-7 candidates, everybody has a path to victory. In 2006, the last time there was an open race for Congress in CD-5 (Colorado Springs), six candidates ultimately made the Primary ballot; Rep. Doug Lamborn is a sitting Member of Congress now because he captured about 26% of the vote in the 2006 Primary (the General Election is a cakewalk for a Republican in CD-5).
We’ve no doubt that Republicans such as Jared Wright would love to narrow down their unruly field of U.S. Senate candidates, but once you let the field get this big, every candidate’s odds at winning actually improve. The field will sort itself out within the next 4-6 weeks…and then things will really start to get crazy.