Why Bennet Beat Romanoff

We’re playing a little bit of catch-up in providing our analysis of the various different outcomes from Tuesday’s Primary. Spurred on by a good Politico story today from David Catanese, here’s our thoughts on how and why Sen. Michael Bennet defeated Andrew Romanoff in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary…

In his Politico story, Catanese lays out a couple of major reasons why Bennet beat Romanoff: 1) Fundraising, 2) Fundamentals, 3) Romanoff’s messaging, 4) President Obama’s support, and, which Catanese writes was most important, 5) The lack of policy differences between Bennet and Romanoff. These are all strong arguments, and we agree with all of them. But here’s what we think made the difference, in order of importance:

1. The Fundamentals of Ballot Chasing

In an election that saw record turnout, due in no small part to the mostly all-mail ballot voting, the core difference was Bennet’s superior ground operation. Because this race seemed to be coming down to the wire in the last week, it’s easy to forget that it was not all that close in the end; Bennet won by an 8-point margin, with a difference of more than 28,000 votes separating the candidates.

Some of the Bennet advantage here came down to fundraising, because his campaign was able to spend more money on staff without having to cut back on TV time. Both campaigns had a lot of volunteer help, but many of Romanoff’s top field organizers were largely volunteers, because Romanoff needed every penny he could save for television. But whatever the reason, Bennet’s camp had a stronger top-down ballot chase organization, as Politico notes:

“Frankly, it’s just the fundamentals. People help support what they help to create. We brought people in on the ground level and gave them ownership and accountability. People want to meet hard goals and they will because it feels good to meet them,” said a Bennet aide, referring to the 500,000 attempted calls staffers made between July 19 and Aug. 10…

…Romanoff did not produce the margin he needed out of his base in Denver County, where he only bested Bennet by six percentage points.

“Romanoff needed to win Pueblo and Denver County by really, really large margins,” observed Mike Stratton, a longtime Democratic strategist who supported Bennet and directed the campaigns of former Sens. Ken Salazar and Gary Hart.

By last Wednesday, about two-thirds of Democratic ballots had already been cast. Those first 200,000 Democratic voters equaled the number of voters who cast ballots in the entire 2008 Democratic Primary (which did not have a statewide Primary contest), which meant that the last 140-some thousand votes were probably being cast by (mostly) new voters. Bennet’s campaign identified their supporters and turned them out to vote in better numbers than Romanoff, which helped them overcome a late negative story from The New York Times.

2. Messaging

Romanoff had been in the race for three solid months before he came out with even a small semblance of a message. It wasn’t until late December/early January that he really started pushing his “No PAC Money” message, and it wasn’t a strong-enough issue on its own to win him the election. A “no PAC money” pledge should be a secondary message – not the basis of an entire campaign – because it’s more of an inside baseball approach; the average Primary voter is not generally more informed than the average General Election voter, most of whom probably have no idea what “PAC” even stands for.

As Politico writes:

In the closing two weeks of the campaign, Romanoff appeared to be gaining some ground with his fusillade of attacks, targeting Bennet’s campaign contributions, business dealings and record as Denver school superintendent. But – to the Bennet campaign’s surprise and relief – he never pivoted to a positive message, which left late-deciding voters and fence sitters with a bitter taste…

…But the biggest factor in Romanoff’s failure to gain more ground was that despite the acrimonious back-and-forth between him and Bennet, the policy differences between them never seemed to be substantial.

It’s a fundamental rule of politics that in any campaign against an incumbent, you must both “make the case to fire” and “make the case to hire.” Romanoff never really completed either argument; he came the closest to making the “case to fire” argument, but he certainly never fully made the case why he was a better choice than Bennet. It was a recurring question that came up time and time again in the race, a question which Romanoff never had a good answer for: “What would you do differently?”

To this end, Romanoff also failed at promoting himself in a positive light. Even if his commercials convinced you that Bennet was a bad choice, they never fully explained why Romanoff was a good choice instead. The 2004 re-election campaign of President George W. Bush is a good example of doing this strategically; in late September and early October, Bush’s ads were all about how John Kerry was a terrible candidate. But in the last 2-3 weeks of the campaign, the tone shifted into positive ads about how Bush was the kind of guy you could have a beer with. Romanoff never made that shift, and it cost him.

And finally, where messaging is concerned, Romanoff went one step too far in the negative campaigning. His “Greed” ad that accused Bennet of “looting companies and forcing them into bankruptcy” was widely condemned, and it absolutely backfired. The over-the-top rhetoric in the ad made Romanoff look like a caricature of the same sleazy politician who will say anything to win – an image that was in sharp contrast to what he had tried to portray for months. It’s always a bad sign when the discussion is more about whether your ad is unfairly negative than it is about the message you were trying to convey.

3. Romanoff Got Mired In Too Many Details

The much-discussed New York Times article that was critical of Bennet’s financial decisions while he was Superintendent of Denver Public Schools is a prime example of this. There’s no question that the story was bad for Bennet, and there’s also no question that the timing of it wasn’t ideal; by the time the article ran late last week, there wasn’t enough time left for Romanoff to show it to voters. But even if that story had hit a week or two earlier, it’s hard to say what it would have done because it was just too complicated for the average voter to understand. Financial derivatives are not exactly the best fodder for a negative ad.

But this wasn’t the only example of Romanoff getting stuck in the details. We still remember his campaign statement on the re-election of Omar al-Bashir as President of Sudan because it was typical Romanoff: Too much policy, not enough politics. While Bennet was in the middle of discussions on financial, health care and energy reform in the Senate, Romanoff was putting out statements on his position on the President of a country that half of voters probably never even heard of before.

And then there was the long, drawn-out and unsuccessful attack on Bennet for taking money from Westwood College that was made to look like a bribe by Romanoff’s campaign. In the end, it wasn’t even clear what vote we were supposed to be angry about, and Westwood College even said that Bennet didn’t vote the way they wanted anyway.

Romanoff also seemed unable to properly manage his time and efforts. For example, he wrote a long Op-Ed disputing a Washington Post column by Dana Milbank in which he did a point-by-point rebuttal. That’s great if you’re on the debate team, but you don’t have time to respond to every single critic when you are a U.S. Senate candidate.

4. Fundraising

Bennet has proved to be a prolific fundraiser, and his huge cash advantage meant that he didn’t have to make the same difficult choices that Romanoff had to make.  As we wrote above, Romanoff didn’t have the luxury of being able to fund a full staff and a significant television buy, and that left him at a huge disadvantage when it came to the ballot chase.

Romanoff’s lack of fundraising also kept his challenge largely off the national radar, because every time you looked at Colorado’s quarterly reports, you saw a huge disparity between the two candidates. Raising money is an important way to prove to other big donors that you are worth a check from them because you really might be able to win. Romanoff needed that kind of momentum much earlier in the campaign; when it finally came in the last few weeks, it was too little, too late.

Once the ballots were being counted, the things that killed the Romanoff campaign were the same things that had doomed it from the start. He never had a real reason for why he would be different than Bennet, he was never able to raise much money, and both of those problems combined to prevent him from putting a complete campaign together.

As for Bennet, while he probably should have done more to attack Romanoff early and derail any potential momentum later, his campaign played it by the books; they did what they needed to do, and they did it well.

Prediction Time!

Make your predictions below on who you think will win the big statewide Primary races. Get them in before 7:00 tonight to make sure you get full bragging rights for a correct answer, and we’ll think up some sort of prize for the person who makes the most correct predictions.


  • U.S. Senate (Democrats)

  • U.S. Senate (Republicans)

  • Governor (Republicans)

  • Treasurer (Republicans)
  • Tiebraker: The total number of votes cast in the Republican Primary for Treasurer.

    Make sure to put your predictions in a numerical, percentages format. For example: Walker Stapleton over J.J. Ament, 54-46

    Last Ballot Return Numbers Before Voting Ends

    We thought we’d again start a new thread with this information (click for the earlier post), now that we’ve got the latest (and last) update from the Secretary of State’s office on ballot returns. Here are the ballot return numbers as of 3:00 p.m. today:

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 310,671/ 817,458/ 38%

    Republicans: 358,953/ 855,667/ 42%

    As we wrote earlier, these numbers have already smashed previous turnout figures for a Primary Election in Colorado, and they don’t include turnout for El Paso and Weld Counties (which were not all-mail ballot counties). This could very well mean that Michael Bennet and Jane Norton will be the winners of their respective primaries because of their name ID advantage. We’d say the same thing for Scott McInnis in the Governor’s race, but we have a feeling the undervote in that one will be huge.  

    Tuesday Ballot Returns: Great News for Better-Known Candidates

    UPDATE #2: More interesting voter trends from Magellan Strategies, a Republican polling and consulting firm, show that at least 28% of Republicans and 32.5% of Democrats that have voted thus far are casting a ballot for the first time in a Primary Election.


    UPDATE: In 1998, Colorado saw primaries on both the Democratic and Republican sides, for both U.S. Senate and Governor. Turnout in the 1998 Primary was 25.5% for Republicans and 19.7% for Democrats, so we are well into record territory here.


    Kudos to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, which is going above and beyond the call of duty in reporting ballot returns early today. The numbers below are as of Noon, while a second report will come out after 3:00 p.m.

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 298,062/ 817,458/ 36%

    Republicans: 340,788/ 855,667/ 40%

    Considering that El Paso and Weld Counties are two of those that are not conducting all-mail balloting in Colorado, it’s safe to say that these numbers are going to rise significantly. This is really good news for the campaigns of Sen. Michael Bennet, Jane Norton, and Scott McInnis, because (as we’ve said repeatedly) the more well-known candidates almost always benefit from higher than normal turnout. Both Democrats and Republicans are voting in record numbers, easily surpassing turnout from any of the three previous Primary races.

    The one caveat here is on the Republican side, where there have been rumblings for weeks of Republicans undervoting on their ballots. So while it’s true that a record number of Republicans are returning their ballot, it may not be true that a record number of people are actually voting in the Senate or Governor Primary. We’d say it’s more likely that people are undervoting the Governor’s race than the Senate race, but the point here is that these returns may not mean as much for McInnis as they will for Bennet.

    Richard Coolidge, the Public Information Officer for the SOS Office, also included these handy tips with today’s report:

    The question is “When” not “If” provisional ballots are counted. Primary night results are only an initial tabulation. The OFFICIAL count is due 13 days after the primary when the canvass board meets and reviews the votes. This 13 days allows time to verify provisional ballots and time for overseas military ballots to arrive (8-day extension for these ballots).

    When will results be posted? Clerks are allowed to process ballots 15 days before the election. For the most part, counties will have most ballots cast up until Monday-ish processed and ready for tabulation after 7:00pm tonight. The rest of the results will be forthcoming. Obviously, your patience waiting for these results is most appreciated.

    Ballot Returns Updated for Today

    POLS NOTE: In order to make comments easier to read and understand, we decided to create a new post for these returns, rather than just updating the original post.

    Below are the turnout numbers reported a little after 3:00 p.m. today by the SOS. Remember that there is some lag time in the reporting process (in other words, there are more ballots returned than what is listed below, but what is listed below is what the various County Clerks reported to the SOS today):

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 279,462/ 817,458/ 34%

    Republicans: 314,264/ 855,667/ 37%

    Richard Coolidge of the Secretary of State’s office also included this note in today’s ballot update:

    Colorado County clerks may begin processing (not tabulating) ballots 15 days before the election. All 64 counties should have a good sample of mail ballots tabulated after 7:00pm tomorrow evening. Remember, 46 counties are voting exclusively by mail, so ballots received Tuesday may not be included in that original release of results. The remaining 18 counties will still have mail results, but will also need to factor in votes cast at precinct polling places (like El Paso, Pitkin, Las Animas, etc) or at vote centers (like Weld, Park, Archuleta, etc).

    Our read on these numbers? The Michael Bennet campaign is going to be sweating it out tomorrow, hoping to see turnout reach levels cross well into the 300,000 level (the higher the turnout above 300,000, the better the odds that Bennet wins).

    As for the GOP turnout, we’re curious to see how big the undervote might be. Turnout is pretty high already considering the amount of grumbling from Republicans over their (lack of) great choices for Governor, and to a lesser extent, U.S. Senate, but if most of the returned ballots are casting a vote in the race for Governor and Senate, this benefits Scott McInnis and Jane Norton in their respective races.

    New Polling Shows Bennet, Norton Ahead, GOP Gov. Tossup

    New polling out this morning from Public Policy Polling has some interesting numbers across the board in the three top-ticket Primaries in Colorado:

    U.S. Senate (Democrats)

    Michael Bennet: 49%

    Andrew Romanoff: 43%

    Undecided: 9%

    U.S. Senate (Republicans)

    Jane Norton: 45%

    Ken Buck: 43%

    Undecided: 12%

    Governor (Republicans)

    Scott McInnis: 41%

    Dan Maes: 40%

    Undecided: 19%

    It looks like all of these races are going to come down to the turnout numbers, with higher turnout favoring Bennet, Norton and McInnis (because these three have the highest name ID in their respective races). The Secretary of State’s office will release the latest turnout figures after 3:00 p.m. today, so check back here for that update.

    GOP Contingency Plans Emerging?

    We’re getting credible word of some interesting last-minute developments ahead of Tuesday’s primary. We want to be clear that this is preliminary, and (of course) dependent on what happens in the election. But it is based on good authority from high-level GOP sources.

    There is some thinking in GOP circles that gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis could indeed be persuaded to exit the race following a victory on Tuesday–if he has a say in his successor, and if he were provided with a ‘suitable’ career landing. If that happens, the story we’ve heard is that Jane Norton would very much like to be selected as a replacement gubernatorial candidate.

    Sources are clear that this does not mean Norton is anticipating a loss in her Senate primary against Ken Buck. What we’re talking about here is strictly a contingency plan, but one that Norton is sufficiently interested in pursuing to have started putting out feelers. As you know, of course, polls do show Buck with an enduring lead after weeks of hard-nosed campaigning.

    What’s truly ironic about this situation is the person emerging as her chief competitor for the selection, Norton campaign manager Josh Penry, remains very much interested by all accounts. Obviously, the vacancy committee who would appoint either of them–itself dependent on a decision from McInnis that others insist he will never make if he wins the primary–remains the biggest “if” in a situation with several unknowns.

    A poll follows–file all of this in the same place you’ve been putting those “Romanoff for Mayor” rumors (but in the “much more likely” category) and we’ll see what happens Tuesday.

    Who would make a better replacement GOP gubernatorial candidate?

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    Romanoff Attack Ad Universally Panned as Untrue

    We were critical of the latest ad from Democrat Andrew Romanoff, called “Greed,” for saying that Sen. Michael Bennet “pushed companies into bankruptcy and looted a billion dollars.” While there are certainly votes and other issues that Romanoff could use to criticize Bennet, this ad went way beyond just negative campaigning because it outright lied in accusing Bennet of stealing from companies.

    Well, the three biggest Denver news networks have all come out with their “Truth Test” or “Fact Checks” or whatever other clever name they have for checking the accuracy of campaign ads. The result: 3 out of 3 say the main message and components of the “Greed” ad are false.

  • 9News (NBC)

  • Channel 7 (ABC)

  • Channel 4 (CBS)
  • Buck: No Abortions, Even for Rape and Incest

    Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck was caught on video at a recent event explaining his position on abortion, which is about as far right as you can go:

    While this position may help Buck in a primary, it is definitely going to be a handicap in a General Election. Colorado voters are largely pro-choice, and most who are pro-life are much more moderate on the issue (which is why the Personhood Amendment was absolutely crushed at the ballot in 2008).

    Romanoff Now Says He Would Take DSCC, PAC Help

    UPDATE #3: In an email just sent out by the Romanoff campaign, Romanoff repeats the same canard as earlier. Clearly this has become a huge problem for the campaign, and it didn’t need to be. If only Campaign Manager Bill Romjue had just kept quiet for a few more days…answering the question about DSCC support may very well prove fatal to the Romanoff campaign.

    Here’s Romanoff’s newest statement:

    I don’t take any PAC money now, I have not done so at any point in this campaign, and I will not do so in the general election.  I don’t know how to make my stand any clearer.

    To set this matter to rest, I took one further step today.  I vowed to ask the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to exclude any PAC dollars from contributions or expenditures it makes on my behalf.

    We don’t want to get too caught up in semantics here, but there’s an important phrase in this statement. Romanoff says “I vowed to ask” the DSCC to exclude PAC dollars. He didn’t vow “not to accept PAC dollars,” because that would be impossible. He knows the DSCC cannot separate PAC money out of its bank account and give Romanoff only the “PAC-free” funds, so he’s really just vowing to ask for something he can’t have.

    And on that note, we vow to ask Santa Claus for a unicorn this Christmas!


    UPDATE #2: Romanoff has issued a statement in an attempt to clarify: “After I win the primary, I will ask the DSCC to honor my pledge by excluding PAC dollars from any contributions or expenditures it makes on my behalf.”

    This statement is, of course, absurd, because there is no way to separate PAC money from non-PAC money when it all goes into the same account. This would be like saying you want to only eat the healthy parts of a cookie after it has already been baked.


    UPDATE: Romanoff’s campaign told Politico that the Colorado Statesman article referenced below was “inaccurate.” In its own story today, the Statesman stands by its original reporting:

    The Statesman’s editor and publisher said the newspaper stands by its story…

    …Romanoff sat with a reporter from The Statesman for an interview immediately following a Jan. 19 press conference where he declared he was still running for the Senate – after rumors swirled he was instead considering a run for governor – and made his most uncompromising statement to date about his refusal to take money from political action committees, which he labeled part of an “incumbent protection racket.”

    “Andrew said what he said in response to a direct question about the DSCC,” said Statesman editor Jody Hope Strogoff, who has covered Romanoff’s political career for more than a decade. “If he’d like to make a case he was answering a different question than the one he was asked, he can do that. But he’s had more than six months to correct the record.”

    Strogoff pointed out the Romanoff campaign hasn’t been shy about challenging newspaper stories that have appeared in The Statesman or elsewhere.


    Original post after the jump.

    As Politico reports today:

    Though surging Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff has sold his own home in order to maintain his pledge to shun political action committee money, his campaign manager Bill Romjue told POLITICO Tuesday that the Democrat would accept funding from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in the general election, even though the organization takes money from PACs.

    Romjue argued that the position is not inconsistent with Romanoff’s pledge to swear off all PAC money from corporations and other special interest groups because there’s no direct relationship between the Senate fundraising committee and the PACs…

    “You can always find an ivory tower person that’s completely pure. We’re not an ivory tower person. Andrew’s going to be funded by individuals, but of course we’ll accept money from the DSCC,” Romjue said. [Pols emphasis]

    The problem with these statements from Romjue is that they are completely at odds with what Romanoff has previously said on the record, like to The Colorado Statesman in January:

    Romanoff went even further after his speech, telling The Colorado Statesman he plans to give the cold shoulder to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, if he wins the primary in August.

    “I don’t welcome the outside interference,” Romanoff said. “My campaign is going to continue to rely on contributions from individuals,” he said, eschewing PACs and special-interest donors he labeled part of an “incumbent-protection racket” in his speech.

    “When we win the primary,” Romanoff predicted, “we’ll find a lot of friends around the state and country we might not have now. But I’m not going to change my message to suit the interests of new-found friends.” [Pols emphasis]

    According to the Politico story, the Romanoff campaign says the Statesman story is “inaccurate,” but Romanoff’s quotes are pretty clear.

    This was always one of the fundamental problems with Romanoff relying on a “No PAC Money” campaign message — it’s a reckless, “all or nothing” message for a Primary that absolutely kills him in a General Election. Romanoff would have to have the help of the DSCC to have any chance at winning a General Election, but he’s backed himself into a corner.

    Romanoff Supporters’ Fact-Free Robocall

    Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

    This is the automated call going out to registered Democrats across the state against Sen. Michael Bennet on behalf of Andrew Romanoff, from a group calling itself “New Leadership in Colorado”–who wants you to know that they’re “not one of those shady groups calling you.”

    But they are attacking Bennet for “voting to give a bailout” to “big banks who wrecked our economy.”

    It shouldn’t even be necessary to note that this robocall is telling a bald-faced lie–Michael Bennet wasn’t even in the Senate when the “big bank bailouts” passed in late 2008. But it’s clear enough that being factual, or even remotely close to factual, is not the goal of this robocall–because robocalls are considered to be an under-the-radar way of planting messages with voters you don’t necessarily want to claim as your own, that all makes sense.

    According to the Colorado Statesman, writing last week about other negative radio ads that suddenly cropped up against Bennet, “New Leadership in Colorado” is a 527 run by a former AFL-CIO chief of staff named Debbie Wamsley. Who, evidently, is totally cool with lying to you if it makes you more likely to vote against Michael Bennet.

    The Most Important Number Until the Primary: Turnout

    FRIDAY UPDATE: Here are the turnout numbers as of 2:45 p.m. today. It looks like a lot of voters are still holding onto their ballots:

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 245,477/ 817,458/ 30%

    Republicans: 269,646/ 855,667/ 32%


    Previous updates and original post after the jump


    WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s office has updated the ballot return numbers. Here they are as of about 4:00 p.m. today:

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 210,201/ 817,458/ 26%

    Republicans: 222,938/ 855,667/ 26%

    Democrats have already voted in significantly higher numbers than in 2008 (see after the jump for more), while Republicans are almost there. There’s still a lot of ballots to go for either Party to surpass the 335,431 votes cast the last time Colorado had a competitive top-ballot Primary (Pete Coors/Bob Schaffer in 2004).


    In the last couple of weeks, polls for both the Democratic and Republican Senate races, as well as the Republican Governor’s race, have showed results that are all over the map. Those changing numbers lead us to believe that all three races are going to be relatively close.

    With that in mind, the most important number for the next 8 days is going to be turnout. The general rule of thumb is that a higher turnout benefits the candidates with the best name ID — Sen. Michael Bennet on the Democratic side, and Jane Norton (Senate) and Scott McInnis (Governor) on the Republican ticket — because a larger number of voters usually means a larger number of uninformed voters, for whom name ID is really the most important issue.

    As of this afternoon, here are the turnout results from the Secretary of State’s office. We’ll update these numbers on Wednesday afternoon and again on Friday afternoon (special thanks to the SOS Communications Staff for the timely updates):

    *Party/ Ballots Returned Thus Far/ Total Active Voters/ Percent Returned

    Democrats: 164,878/ 817,458/ 20%

    Republicans: 171,236/ 855,667/ 20%

    In 2006, overall primary turnout was 23%, while in 2008, overall primary turnout was 21.95%. It would appear as though we are well on our way to higher than normal turnout, which makes sense since we haven’t seen a contested statewide primary in Colorado (at the top of the ticket) since the 2004 Republican Senate race between Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer.

    To give those numbers some perspective, here are the numbers for ballots cast for the top ticket race in 2008, 2006 and 2004. Pay particular attention to the 2004 Republican Senate race, which as we said above was the last competitive top-ticket Primary in Colorado:


    2008: 194,227 votes cast (Mark Udall, Senate)

    2006: 142,586 votes cast (Bill Ritter, Governor)

    2004: 237,140 votes cast (Ken Salazar/Mike Miles, U.S. Senate)


    2008: 239,212 votes case (Bob Schaffer, Senate)

    2006: 193,804 votes cast (Bob Beauprez, Governor)

    2004: 335,431 votes cast (Pete Coors/Bob Schaffer, U.S. Senate)

    Romanoff Destroys His Own Message, Image With Latest Ad

    All campaigns (at least those that are really trying to win) eventually go negative in their advertising and messaging. Both candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate have long since crossed into negative territory. On the Democratic side, Andrew Romanoff first crossed that threshold about 10 days ago, which in response prompted the first negative ad from Sen. Michael Bennet.

    The definition of a negative ad is focusing on a perceived weakness of your opponent, as opposed to pointing out your positive aspects, and we’ve never had a problem with that. But Romanoff’s newest negative ad targeted at Bennet, which was ripped today by the major Denver newspaper, is different.

    The ad, called “Greed” (embedded after the jump), says that while working for Phil Anschutz, Bennet “pushed companies into bankruptcy and looted a billion dollars.”

    You read that right — Romanoff’s ad essentially says that Bennet intentionally bankrupted companies in order to steal money from them. That’s way beyond a negative ad because it’s factually wrong. And intentionally running inaccurate ads to smear your opponent — well, that’s a crap move that’s no better than Jane Norton using 9/11 imagery as a scare tactic. Nobody can say otherwise — not with a straight face, anyway.

    Obviously, Romanoff is pulling out all of the stops in an effort to upset Bennet, but in doing so he has flushed down the toilet the primary message of his entire campaign: That he is a “different” politician who wants to be a Senator “for the rest of us.”

    So long, “Regular Guy Andrew Who Won’t Go Negative.”

    Hello, “Same Old Politician Who Will Say Anything In Order to Win.” Maybe it will get him a Primary victory, and maybe it won’t (we still think Bennet will ultimately win). But if it does…is it really worth the cost? Intentionally spreading egregious lies about someone in your own Party, just to win?  

    McInnis, Norton Leading Respective Primaries?

    Today “The Fix” provides its list of the 10 most interesting primary fights in the country, and Colorado’s Republicans made it into two of the top three!

    Most interesting, however, is that “The Fix” notes that Scott McInnis leads Dan Maes by 15 points in the race for the Gubernatorial nomination, while Jane Norton may now be leading Ken Buck 45-40 in the Senate Primary:

    3. Colorado governor (R, Aug. 10): What happens if you hold a primary and the party regulars don’t want either candidate to win? That’s what’s happening in Colorado at the moment with scandal-plagued Scott McInnis (plagiarism) and Dan Maes (campaign finance violations) battling it out. A survey shown to the Fix and conducted by a Republican pollster in the last few days put McInnis ahead by 15. If he manages to win the nomination, there will be a major push by establishment Republicans to push him out. But will McInnis go? (Previous ranking: N/A)…

    1. Colorado Senate (R, Aug. 10): Just when Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck looked like he was going to pull off an upset against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, he made a series of impolitic comments — the most potentially damaging of which was calling elements of the Tea Party “dumbasses”. A poll conducted by a major Republican firm looking in at the governor’s race in the last few days showed Norton ahead 45 percent to 40 percent, which suggests that Buck has incurred considerable political damage. (Previous ranking: 3)

    Poll Has Romanoff Withing Striking Distance (But With Grain of Salt)

    A group called “New Leadership Colorado” sent out a press release late this evening showing Democrat Andrew Romanoff within striking distance of Sen. Michael Bennet in the race for the Democratic nomination for Senate. “New Leadership Colorado” claims that it has no ties to either Romanoff or Bennet, but obviously their interests are with Romanoff (because there would be no other reason to announce this otherwise).

    The automated phone survey shows Bennet leading Romanoff 44-40, with what they say is a margin of error of +/-3.6%. Given that every other head-to-head poll released to this point has shown Bennet with a double-digit lead, this is good news for Romanoff, right?


    The polling and memo was done by a Democratic communications firm called Zata3, a name that should be familiar to many politicos for their robocalls, direct mail and other communications tools such as text messaging.

    But what Zata3 does not normally do is polling. That doesn’t mean that they definitely don’t have these numbers correct, but they are not a polling firm. You hire Zata3 to do persuasion phone calls or text messaging — not polling — just like you wouldn’t normally hire a polling firm to do your direct mail (or for a real-world example, you wouldn’t go to a dry cleaner to buy a sandwich). This is no knock on Zata3, it’s just that it seems odd that you wouldn’t use a professional polling firm if you wanted real polling results.

    We wondered when we first got the press release at 6:17 PM why anyone would release something this potentially helpful so late in the day; normally you would never send something to the press this late because it would almost certainly get buried and not make it on the news. But perhaps that was the point — to put it out late enough that news outlets wouldn’t have time to really check into the data and the “pollster.”

    Full press release after the jump.

    A new Zata3 poll commissioned by New Leadership in Colorado shows former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff surging to nearly within the margin of error against Senator Michael Bennet.  The survey of 800 likely and somewhat likely Democratic primary voters shows Bennett with 44% and Romanoff with 40% and 16% still undecided with two weeks until election day.  The margin of error is +/- 3.6%.

    A copy of the polling memo is attached hereto.

    ***For questions about the survey, please contact the polling firm:  Brad

    Chism, Zata3 – 202.386.6024****

    New Leadership in Colorado is an independen committee with no ties with either Romanoff or Bennet.


    Paid for by New Leadership in Colorado.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee.  New Leadership in Colorado is responsible for the content of this advertising.

    Romanoff Fundraising Numbers

    The Q2 fundraising numbers for Democrat Andrew Romanoff are out. Romanoff raised $619,814 in Q2, spent $657,454 and now has $464,340 cash on hand (compared to $2.6 million COH for Sen. Michael Bennet).

    These are decent fundraising numbers for Q2 for Romanoff, but his low cash on hand figure is no doubt why the campaign was refusing to release numbers on its own. From what we hear, Romanoff has spent at least $300,000 on television, which means he’s going to be spending every cent as he raises it from here on out (considering that he’ll still need money for office space, staff salaries, etc.) And while Romanoff’s Q2 haul was good by his own historical standards, it’s probably not enough to get him the kind of TV time he needs to defeat Bennet.

    Newspaper Endorsements Begin

    Newspapers from around the state have begun rolling out their endorsements of candidates in advance of the Aug. 10 Primary. We’ll be keeping track of these endorsements after the jump (and please help out in the comments section).

    How important are these endorsements? That depends entirely on what you do with them; newspaper endorsements are only as useful as a campaign makes them out to be. Endorsements from a variety of larger-name newspapers can look good on a TV or radio ad, for example, and can help give the impression that a candidate has support from across the state. Obviously, this kind of strategy is more important for an underdog candidate, but even a frontrunner can benefit from this kind of “third-party validation.” Outside of a campaign using the endorsement in paid media, these endorsements have little impact.

    Now, on to the endorsements…

    Newspaper* Endorsement List for U.S. Senate Primary

    *Note that we are only listing daily newspapers or large weeklies — we’re not going to try to keep track of small community newspapers.


    Michael Bennet

  • The Durango Herald

  • The main Denver newspaper (rhymes with “toast”)

    Andrew Romanoff

  • The Colorado Springs Independent

    Jane Norton

  • The Durango Herald

  • The main Denver newspaper (rhymes with “toast”)
  • Ken Buck

  • The Colorado Springs Independent explicitly did not “endorse” Buck, but “recommended” him over Norton
  • Bennet Reports $2.6 Million Cash on Hand

    The campaign of Sen. Michael Bennet has announced a cash on hand total of $2.6 million, or about $2 million more than both Republicans Jane Norton and Ken Buck have reported. The campaign of Democrat Andrew Romanoff is not releasing fundraising reports itself, which means that we may have to wait at least a week to find out what the Democratic challenger raised in Q2.

    Norton: “You’d Think Ken [Buck] Would Be Man Enough to Do it Himself”

    We’d say the gloves have officially come off in the Republican race for the U.S. Senate. Jane Norton has started running a commercial attacking Ken Buck over the special-interest ads that have been running against her. “You’d think Ken would be man enough to do it himself,” she says.

    Meanwhile, a YouTube video showing that Buck’s campaign may have had prior knowledge of some of these third-party ads (which, of course, would be illegal if there was any sort of coordination involved) has popped up.

    Tancredo’s Crazy! No, He’s Not! He’s Sort of Right! Wait, What?

    UPDATE: Ready for another twist? Fox 31’s Eli Stokols:

    In a new audio recording obtained by FOX 31, Buck is discussing the Tancredo firestorm roughly a day later, on Friday, and said, “I can’t believe that guy opened his mouth.”

    Listen here.

    It’s a seemingly reasonable reaction, given that Tancredo completely stole the headlines following Buck’s Thursday rally with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint; and it aligns with Buck’s initial response to the media when, moments after Thursday’s rally ended, he told a group of reporters, “I think there are a lot of threats to the White House and I don’t think the man in the White House is the greatest threat to this country at all.”

    …Norton’s decision to stick up for Tancredo, who has endorsed Buck and harshly criticized Norton and her campaign, underscores how this primary continues to be battle to demonstrate the most strident conservative credentials possible.

    That dynamic is largely responsible for Buck’s recent momentum; and it may explain why, on Saturday, Buck himself took a notably different stance on Tancredo’s remarks while speaking at the Conservative Western Summit.

    The fallout from former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s crazy comments at a rally for GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck continues, with the rhetoric becoming less and less comprehensible by the day. Politico has more on the story today (most of which you’ve already seen here):

    Buck quickly distanced himself from the comments, and a YouTube video showed that the Republican primary hopeful did not applaud Tancredo’s remarks. “I love Tom, but I don’t always agree with him. I don’t agree that the greatest threat to the country is the man in the Oval Office,” Buck said, noting that Tancredo “tends to exaggerate sometimes.”

    The Colorado Democratic Party still hammered Buck by association, and state party Chairwoman Pat Waak said in a statement: “No one should give Ken Buck a pass on the extreme and shocking statements of his good friend Tom Tancredo.”

    But it was former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, the favored Senate candidate of national Republicans who has been nudged to the right by Buck’s feisty campaign, who jumped to Tancredo’s defense.

    “There was a real measure of truth in what Tancredo said,” Norton wrote on her Facebook page. “Obama is spending this country into bankruptcy. [Joint Chiefs Chairman] Admiral Mullen said our debt is a greater threat than terrorism. It’s time to end the culture of political correctness. Obama’s brand of big government is a threat to America.”

    Norton’s decision to stick up for Tancredo, who has endorsed Buck and openly criticized Norton’s campaign, shows how completely the Republican Senate primary has become a battle for the hardest-line conservative credentials.

    We’ve discussed for some time on this website how the Republican primary for Senate may end up driving the winner so far to the right that it will be difficult for either Buck or Jane Norton to tack back to the center in time for the General Election. But the way things are going now, it’s not right vs. left vs. center that we’ll be discussing, but rather, which candidate can at least be coherent?

    Through a spokesman, Buck said he looked forward to a debate that puts not just President Obama, but the whole Democratic Party’s views on debt, energy, Israel and more in the spotlight.

    “If Obama leaves office, you turn on your TV and you hear the following, ‘I Joseph Biden do solemnly swear.’ The threat continues because then Nancy Pelosi is in office, Harry Reid is in office, Barney Frank is in office and the liberal progressives continue marching down that path,” Buck said.

    Yeah, you said…wait, what are you talking about?

    If I Pretend I Don’t Remember, It Will Go Away

    The conservative blog RedState, which is backing Republican Ken Buck for Senate, takes a look at the same “I’ve never been a lobbyist” claims from Jane Norton  that have long since been debunked:

    Recently Jane Norton gave an interview to the Colorado Statesman. There is this curious exchange in it:

       CS: Did you used to work for AARP?

       JN: I did, I did.

       CS: What did you do for them?

       JN: I was – gosh, what was my title? Oh, that was so long ago. I’m sorry, can I get back with you on that? I can’t even remember what it was.

       CS: I don’t think it’s on your bio. Is there any reason for that?

       JN: No, no.

    Curious, ain’t it. She doesn’t remember and it is not in her bio.

    Well, how about we go through the wayback time machine and see what we can uncover.

    Redstate goes on to cite numerous past news articles, which we’ve also noted before, that show Norton was indeed a lobbyist for AARP. This ol’ horse has been out of the barn for so long that you couldn’t even find it to put it back; Norton would be better off just telling people that she worked for AARP and use it to get support from senior citizen voters rather than comically pretending that she can’t remember.

    DeMint Coming to Colorado for Buck

    From Eli Stokols at KDVR:

    South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, a Tea Party idol and aspiring conservative kingmaker, is coming to Colorado next week to rally supporters on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck.

    Buck’s campaign confirmed Wednesday that plans have been finalized for a rally that will take place next Thursday, July 8, with the final details still being worked out.

    “We’re thrilled to have Sen. DeMint visit Colorado,” said Buck’s spokesman, Owen Loftus. “Sen. DeMint is a respected grassroots leader, who if fighting the establishment to fix Washington. Ken is honored to have his endorsement and support.”

    DeMint endorsed Buck in April, calling him “an authentic conservative.” It was the latest in a series of moves by DeMint to buck the Republican Party establishment by siding with insurgent candidates over GOP incumbents.

    Buck, Norton Trade Barbs in First Debate

    As The Colorado Springs Independent reports:

    Ken Buck had more and louder supporters, Jane Norton fired a few grenades that didn’t really detonate, and about 400 people inside Stargazers Theatre and Event Center probably went home with no apparent change in their outlooks after the two Colorado Republicans running for the U.S. Senate engaged in a 90-minute debate Tuesday night.

    At times the atmosphere felt more like a Tea Party rally, with both candidates doing their best to appeal to the outer edges of the state Republican party. Buck said he would support missile strikes against Iran’s potential nuclear facilities. Norton stated that Social Security and Medicare are on a “glide path that’s unsustainable.” Both said they would support a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and following the guidelines of the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

    One of the night’s biggest ovations actually went to a non-participant, Tea Party and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, who attended solely as a spectator.

    All in all, from reports we’ve read and heard, the debate seemed fairly tame — which is odd, given that recent polling has Jane Norton trailing significantly behind Ken Buck. Norton’s going to have to get aggressive pretty soon if she’s going to turn Buck’s momentum.


    Buck/Norton Debate Tonight: Is Buck the Front-Runner Now?

    As Republican Senate hopefuls Ken Buck and Jane Norton prep for their first major debate tonight in Colorado Springs, the primary race looks a lot different than many (including us) would have expected six months ago. As KDVR reports, Buck is now being viewed as the candidate to beat on August 10:

    Like grassroots-backed conservatives running in primaries in other states, Ken Buck has become the apparent front-runner in Colorado’s GOP Senate primary.

    After a strong showing at the GOP state assembly in May, Buck now leads former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, according to a recent Denver Post poll. Norton, however, has countered with her own poll showing her ahead.

    But, Buck, who continues to benefit from the outside support of a group called “Americans for Job Security” that’s already spent $1 million on TV ads running on his behalf, is the candidate everyone is going after. And conventional wisdom says — neither the mainstream media nor the opposing party spends a whole lot of time scrutinizing and, in the Democrats case, attacking the candidate who’s behind.

    What say you, Polsters? Vote after the jump.

    Is Ken Buck Now the Frontrunner in the GOP Senate Primary?

    View Results

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