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July 24, 2009 06:14 PM UTC

New Big Line

  • by: Colorado Pols

We’ve updated The Big Line. More on the changes we’ve made after the jump.


The race for Governor is close to a crapshoot, but we still give Bill Ritter the edge because he doesn’t have to worry about a primary. We’re still hesitant as to whether Josh Penry can raise the big bucks that he’ll need to win both a primary and a general election; for all Scott McInnis’ problems, raising money is not likely to be one of them.


We’ve always doubted that a city council member (no matter the city) could make the ginormous jump to U.S. Senate, but supporters of Ryan Frazier had been insisting that he’s a special candidate.

Well, he’s not.

With an unimpressive first fundraising report in which he raised only about a third of what Weld County D.A. Ken Buck pulled down, Frazier showed that he’s taking too big a bite from the political apple. Your first report is vital when you are an unknown entity like Frazier, and he failed that test.

The GOP primary is now Buck’s to lose, but that’s only the booby prize. Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet now has $2.5 million in the bank, and if he keeps up his torrid fundraising pace, this race will be over by next Spring.


Republican John Suthers is the only statewide incumbent without an announced challenger. Democrats need to find a strong candidate soon in order to start laying the financial groundwork, but the longer they take the safer Suthers becomes.


The race for the GOP nomination between Walker Roberts Stapleton and J.J. Ament could be one of the more expensive in Colorado history. Stapleton raised an impressive amount of money in Q2, but few doubt that Ament can catch up. Meanwhile, Democrat Cary Kennedy continues to plug along with decent fundraising figures and will be sitting pretty while Stapleton and Ament beat the hell out of each other.


Incumbent Democrat Bernie Buescher is in good shape here. Republican Scott Gessler had an awful Q2, raising just $12,800 but spending more than $21,000. This shows two things: 1) Gessler really can’t raise money, and 2) Gessler has no idea what he is doing. You can’t piss away money if you aren’t raising enough to cover those losses.


We’re not saying that Democrat Jared Polis is in trouble by any means, but sticking his head into the health care reform debate angered a lot of Democrats and made him look like he wasn’t representing the district he serves. If health care reform fails, Polis will be at the top of the list of those who get the blame on the Democratic side, which would open him up to devastating attacks in 2010 by a potential primary challenger.

Again, we’re not saying that this is going to happen or is even close to happening, but two weeks ago we saw no scenario whereby Polis would not be reelected in 2010. That’s not the case anymore.


Republican Martin Beeson didn’t make any attempt to have an impressive first fundraising report, in part because he was late to file. But if he wasn’t ready to start off with a bang, he should have waited to file until Q3 – all of which shows that his candidacy isn’t really planned out. Incumbent Democratic Rep. John Salazar was never really in trouble anyway.


The second fundraising quarter did a lot to clear up the outlook of this race. Incumbent Democrat Betsy Markey has raised a half-million dollars so far in 2009, and a crowded GOP primary will let her hold onto most of her warchest until the fall of 2010.

On the Republican side, Cory Gardner’s strong fundraising in Q2 has him firmly at the top of the list. Ft. Collins City Council member Diggs Brown is still the best theoretical candidate in the race (he has a good base in the most populous part of the district and a cool military background), but while he’s away on National Guard duty his staff is pillaging his campaign. Meanwhile, CU Regent Tom Lucero has proved in two straight quarters that he can’t raise money and won’t likely be a real challenger.


Neither Democrat David Canter nor John Flerlage looks likely to even be competitive in 2010 against incumbent Republican Mike Coffman. Money is the name of the game early in these races, and Canter and Flerlage barely have two nickels to rub together between them.


Incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter doesn’t even have a likely opponent yet, but he continues to put up huge fundraising quarters. With more than $800,000 in the bank already, no serious Republican candidate will likely even consider challenging Perlmutter.

Now, tell us why we’re wrong…


43 thoughts on “New Big Line

  1. Thanks for updating the big line, Pols.  It’s starting to pass the smell test.  The governor race in particular looks pretty right to me.  Penry came out of the gate strong and he has a HUGE momentum advantage right now.  Congressman McInnis fumbling, bumbling and leaving voicemails with people admitting he’s breaking the law is less than inspiring. You’re right though…his lawyer-lobbyist pals will most likely write him checks.  If you’re Tom Strickland, who do you write a check to — Ritter or McInnis?  He recruited both of them to Hogan & Hartson, right?  

    On the CD-4 line, I think Gardner should at least be tied with Markey.  Registration is on his side and her votes have been stupid for her district.  Gardner is smart, hard working and he’ll do extremely well.  

    1. 1. Markey did not win in 2008 by a small margin – it was a blowout.

      2. Markey has not made any major mistakes thus far.

      3. Markey has already raised more than $500,000

      4. Markey doesn’t have a primary

      What, exactly, does Gardner have going for him that Markey does not? This is not Gardner’s race to win, by any means. This is Markey’s race to lose.

      1. if you review Mr. Gardner’s latest FEC report in detail it isn’t nearly as good as the cusory news reports made it out to be. Most of his donations came from two places – either Yuma County or the Denver metro area. It was obvious the oil industry threw a fundraiser for him in June. This was all low hanging fruit.

        Second, almost none of his contributions came from Larimer, Weld or Boulder counties which will cast 85% of the vote in the next general election. It is an indication, Mr. Gardner has not built any presence in the heartland of the district. That area has been trending Democrat, including Weld County. If he plans on winning he needs to establish a presence there immediately.

        Third, the Larimer County Republican Party remains split, including on who should be the nominee in the 4th CD race next year. There are well known, active and respected Republicans who have refused to meet with Mr. Gardner in that county because they believe he represents the old guard of the Party which refuses to govern and focuses on social conservatism.  

      2. I’m new here. First post. But, I have followed the 4th for a while. Yes, Betsy did win by a large margin last year but much of that was due to people’s dislike of Marilyn. If you look at how many people in the 4th voted for McCain and Shaffer but didn’t vote for Marilyn it should be enough to give Betsy concern.

        I think using Betsy’s margin in 2008 as a predictor of what will happen in 2010 is an apples to oranges comparison. Cory is not Marilyn.

        4th CD  2008:

        John McCain/Sarah Palin -165,912 votes

        Bob Schaffer – 152,557 votes

        Marilyn N. Musgrave – 133,436 votes

        1. it seems much sillier to use McCain/Palin as a guide to how the 2010 vote will go. Clearly the 4th is a place with a lot of independents who vote more for candidates than for parties.

    1. according to his bio:

      He is also employed by Home Loan and Investment Company, a banking, financial services and insurance company that has been in business in western Colorado for more than a century

      As I recall (and my memory is a little fuzzy now) his title when he was hired soon after winning election to the House was “Director of Internet Insurance” or some such thing.

      It is unclear whether he is actually required to show up for work.

        1. I used to fix stuff like that all the time.

          But considering how many words Pols writes for this site per week, they’re actually pretty damn good from a spelling and grammatical standpoint.

  2. I did see at least one republican who announced against perlmutter:

    doesn’t really look like a serious contender, but in all fairness I think we should put up announced candidates

    I saw perlmutter at an event a few weeks back — I thought he said there were at least 2 announced candidates against him.  Anyone know?

    1. ok apparently Brian T Campbell Sr raised $8579 and spent $8174, with a $3200 debt and $414 on hand.

      Like I said, not raising the money of a serious challenger, but he is announced…

        1. neither is raising the money a serious candidate needs — but since canter and flerledge are up, I just thought this guy (whoever he is) should be as well…and 50-1 seems like the worst odds on anyone lol.

  3. Regardless of the outcome of the healthcare debate, Polis simply has to go.  He has been a disaster when dealing with small communities.  His staff could care less.  HE could care less.  

    All this man has wanted is to hold office.  He thinks he is smarter than everyone and doesn’t listen to the people he represents.

    Paging Fitzgerald.  We are sorry for the last time.  PLEASE run again!!!!

    1. and his staffers are some of the nicest, most professional people you will meet. That has been my experience throughout.

      Jared Polis has been very active and has become very high profile in the few short months since he has become a Congressman, regardless of what you think of him.

      If he sticks around in Congress (he’s a young guy) he will definitely be in a leadership position, which obviously bodes well for Colorado and for the second CD.

      mtnhigh I detect a bit of sour grapes, and Ali I totally agree with you.


      1. I think Jared’s doing a really good job. He’s not perfect and his submarining the health care bill sucked. But otherwise I think he’s doing great. And you’ll notice he shut up fast on the health care funding issue.

        1. I’d like to see him defend that vote…if only because it would give me another opportunity to call him a douche.

          He doesn’t seem to have apologized or in any way recognized he was wrong to do what he did. His “shutting up fast” seems more symptomatic of cowardice than decency.

          1. And because your request matters so much to him, he went back in time to get a reply for you printed in today’s Daily Camera

            Health care reform is the single most important step we can take to help struggling families and rebuild our economy.

            I also made the difficult decision to vote against the bill in its earliest stages to draw attention to this surcharge provision and lack of cost controls, as a way to strengthen the bill and its revenue sources before it reaches the House floor.

            So yes, still trying to have it both ways. As I said, he’s not perfect and he’s reducing the chances of healthcare passing.

  4. Bill Ritter had all the moderate credentials he needed before he made the Marostica appointment.  The appointment is great news for state house of representatives democrats, giving them a shot at another seat.  But, giving a key economic development post to a real estate developer instead of someone with a history that shows some tendency to favor labor unioons or at least acknowledge their worth, will be more salt in the wounds of labo and will discourage the rank and file base.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that labor activists will actually back Penry or McInnis in 2010, but the possibility that they will sit out that election in terms of volunteer time, money and word of mouth enthusiasm continues to mount.

    The recent positions that Bennet and Udall took on concealed carry, and the set back Polis helped deal to Obama’s health care package, are likewise going to decrease political enthusiasm and optimism for these candidates among the volunteering, contributing and work of mouth enthusiasm generating members of the base, even as they pick up some unaffiliated voter support.

    A cynical and displeased base is not a firm foundation for a political campaign, and unaffiliated voters are notoriously non-issue oriented, can rarely be counted upon for any campaign assistance, and are unreliable in even voting at all.

    Polis is safe now in CO-2, which is still deeply blue and will favor anyone with a D next to their name, and Bennet still looks strong in a statewide race where he is trying to etablish moderate credentials with more moderate statewide voters since he starts as a political unknown; but Bennet is still in his political honeymoon sufficiently that he has not deeply alienated many members of the Democratic base.  Bennet’s announced opponents are also not very impressive or well known.  But, Ritter’s out of the blue appointment of Bennet over better established party figures also doesn’t do anything to make the Democratic Party political machine, leadership or base feel any better about Ritter.

    Between the Bennet appointment and the various anti-union vetos Ritter has made, Ritter has established a persona for himself as a DINO, a Democrat In Name Only, who appears to take no counsel from his political party in sensitive matters.  No one would seek to kick him out of the party for that; the Democrats have a big tent and Ritter is more liberal than any Republican would be.

    But, Ritter’s opponents, while not all that a political strategist at the GOP could wish for, are better positioned to take on a Governor who has alienated his base without making a lot of new friends. Something tells me that the Don Marostica appointment is not going to win the Governor many GOP registered voters in 2010, no matter how bipartisan a choice it may be.  Many Republicans were livid with Marostica to start with and on the verge of actually throwing him out of the causus.  If Marostica had stayed in the state house there is a non-negligible chance that he would have party flipped.

    Nobody is less secure in the 2010 election than Ritter, and the olive branches to the party faithful have still not been forthcoming.  How he will manage to mount a campaign without the intense support that the Democratic Party and its base, and in particular the union movement, gave him in 2006, while the Democratic Party was hungry and unified after a long time in the political wilderness, is anybody’s guess.


    1. Gov. Ritter did not appoint Rep. Marostica because of the upcoming 2010 election. Marostica’s appointment will have at best a negligable impact on the election. As far as the unions go, the position of economic development director for the state has nothing to do with unions or management. His job is to attract economic development into Colorado and inside Colorado regardless of whether the meployees are unionized.

      I seriously doubt that the unions will look at this appointment as important for their issues. In the past, the unions have never raised their voices about who should be the economic development director for the state of Colorado. As far as I know, Don Elliman does not come from a union background and the unions never objected to his appointment by Governor Ritter.

      1. Agree w/ R36 comments.  Owilleke has some good analysis going, but in terms of the election, Marostica’s appointment is a sleeper.  The Office of Economic Development and International Trade is a natural for someone w/ biz connections.  That Marostica stood strong against the bullies of his own party last session on budget issues is a mark of his integrity and independence.  

        The biggest reason that I continue to support Ritter is that his appointments are well-considered and generally excellent -like this one.  He is however a centrist D and has a blind spot when it comes to valuing legislative experience, which is why he misses some of the larger political signals (labor), and why we’re now saddled w/ Bennet.

      2. is to tell prospective employers that Colorado is “business friendly” and to advocate for “business friendly” policies within the Ritter administration.

        In practice, this often means spending a fair amount of time hobnobbing with business owners and a frequent item on bullet point list in that role would be explaining to business owners that Colorado have a low private sector unionization rate and relatively union unfriendly labor laws in the few areas that states have a say in influencing (like unemployment benefits for locked out employees, termination at will laws with few exceptions, and a higher than federal law requires threshold (75%) vote requirement for a closed shop).  Within the administration it will be Marostica’s job, more than anyone else’s to advocate for more anti-union vetos so that he can keep pushing these talking points with potential businesses.

        Lots of people that Ritter could have appointed to this post wouldn’t have attracted attention, but Marostica is a high profile figure who is frequently signaled out by name in the papers.  Most people probably aren’t paying attention to this appointment, but unions, who are focused on the economy and jobs in particular probably are and are probably particularly sensitive to the issues the post deals with since the “business friendly” argument is the recurring mantra that is thrown at them in legislative debates.  Sure, rank and file voters aren’t going to care, but this is one more in a long list of grievances that I suspect unions will weigh when the time comes to decide how to handle their involvement in 2010.  

        I suspect that the unions probably even made some suggestions formally or informally to the Governor for this position.  I have no inside knowledge of who that might be.  I could imagine someone from the environmental community (a natural fit with the New Energy Economy mantra), or perhaps someone like City Councilman Chris Nevitt, in Denver, for example, has a background as an economic policy guy with close ties to the union movement.  Really, anyone who is on record against the Mississippi style “race to the bottom” approach that is the stereotypical pitch of a director in a post like that one.  Traditionally, union-management issues have taken a spot right up there with tax breaks in courting businesses to a state.

        Marostica, of course, has a boss who has put considerable thought into the issues that are in his jurisdiction, so he won’t have free reign to depart from the party line, and everybody gets a honeymoon period.  I’m not saying that he will do a bad job, but only that it won’t help Ritter politically.

        1. No question, Ritter seems to operate as though the unions are non-existent – a big mistake in a midterm election year when the economy has tanked and the unions, above all others, can be counted on for grass-roots political action.  And, as you point out, not in 2010 for Ritter.

          But I also think that Ritter was in a place that he couldn’t go much lower, as a Dem, w/ the unions.  Or are you saying that he could have used the appointment to rebuild, a little, his relationship w/ union interests?

  5. If you’re going to put Clive Titwell up for senator then I would certainly think Mr. Maes has earned a nice 35-1 ranking on the governor line.

    Fair’s fair, right?

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