Romanoff Goes Negative Against Bennet

Democrat Andrew Romanoff has officially crossed over into negative campaigning with his newest TV ad. The ad bashes Sen. Michael Bennet for taking money from banking and oil interests while trying to make the point that he has been corrupted by big money influences.

Romanoff has said for months that he was going to keep his campaign about issues and wouldn’t go negative against Bennet — a position we always thought was silly to take, given that there’s no way Romanoff was going to beat Bennet without going negative. But Romanoff does not have enough money for a significant TV buy; this ad may damage Bennet, but not enough so that Romanoff can ultimately overtake him in the primary.

The end result is that Romanoff looks more than a bit hypocritical in now going negative, but won’t likely gain enough of a foothold for it to be worth the strategic change. Romanoff is basically just throwing rocks at a windowless building at this point.

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.

    Bill Clinton Loves Him Some Andrew Romanoff

    UPDATE: According to TPM, Clinton won’t be making appearances for Romanoff and that “A Clinton source says the email posted below is likely to be the only campaign effort on Romanoff’s behalf.” Sorry Democrats, looks like no Colorado visits from Big Bill.


    The campaign of Andrew Romanoff today sent out an email with an endorsement from former President Bill Clinton (text after the jump).

    This is easily Romanoff’s most significant endorsement (no offense, Dennis Apuan), and now he has a Democratic President to match Barack Obama’s support of incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. So the big question: Who has Jimmy Carter?

    I first met Andrew Romanoff in 1992, when he was a student at the Kennedy School of Government and I was a candidate for President.  Four years later, I was running for a second term, and he had just been elected to his first — as one of Colorado’s representatives on the Democratic National Committee.

    I was proud to carry Colorado in 1992, but you should be even prouder of what Andrew Romanoff did to turn the state blue.  He worked harder than anyone in Colorado to put Democrats in positions of power — and to use that power to benefit every single citizen.

    Andrew led the effort to win a majority in the Colorado House of Representatives for the first time in 30 years, and to keep that majority for the first time in more than 40 years.  He built the largest Democratic majority since John F. Kennedy was President.

    Even more important, Andrew took on Colorado’s biggest challenges and made enormous progress.  As the first Democratic Speaker of the House since 1976, he:

    Put together an Economic Recovery Plan to bring good jobs to Colorado and balance the state budget.

    Passed the largest investment in school construction in state history — a billion-dollar plan to repair, rebuild and modernize schools, especially in rural Colorado.

    Protected Coloradans from the threats they face every day: insurers who deny their claims and refuse to honor their policies, scam artists who prey on seniors and bilk them out of their life savings, polluters who destroy the environment and expect somebody else to pay for the damages.

    Andrew won.  Colorado won.

    In 2008, the editors of Governing Magazine honored Andrew as “Public Official of the Year.”  They recognized in Andrew the same qualities that the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and more than 50 other organizations had already seen — integrity, courage, compassion.  Simply put, Andrew Romanoff is one of the best legislative leaders in the United States.

    Colorado is far better off today because of Andrew Romanoff’s leadership.  America will be too.

    As a Senator, Andrew Romanoff will continue to stand up to special interests and fight for working families.  We need Andrew’s leadership in Washington — especially now, when so many Americans are losing so much.  “It is not enough,” as Andrew put it at the Colorado Democratic Assembly last month, “to put a President of real talent and vision and leadership in the White House if the same qualities are not matched at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

    Andrew won the state assembly by 21 points.  With your help, he’ll win the primary and the general election.

    Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead.  I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November.

    I support Andrew Romanoff, and I hope you will too. Please make a generous contribution to his campaign today.

    Long Road Back to the Middle for Buck

    Today Politico examines a potential problem for Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck — an issue that we have said for a long time will be problematic for all GOP candidates for statewide office in 2010. The problem is that when you tack far to the right in order to please your base, you end up a long way from the middle, which is where you need to be to win a General Election:

    He’s questioned the constitutionality of Social Security, toyed with phasing out the federal student loan program and spoken of lowering the wall that separates church and state.

    Meet Ken Buck, the Colorado Republican Senate primary candidate who looks like the next Rand Paul or Sharron Angle – another tea-party-backed insurgent poised to upset the GOP establishment favorite.

    Like Paul and Angle, whose post-nomination rollouts were notably rocky, the upstart Weld County district attorney carries with him similar made-for-cable-TV political baggage. And like those two, Buck’s more unconventional statements haven’t received a full vetting yet…

    …Like Paul, who was pilloried for hedging on whether he would have voted for landmark civil-rights legislation, and Angle, who ended up fleeing a local television reporter who inquired about her plan for “transitioning” out of Social Security, Buck has delivered a series of sound bites that Democrats view as a treasure-trove of opposition hits.

    At a March forum, he drew hearty applause after calling Social Security “horrible, bad policy” and questioning whether the federal government should be involved in administering it.

    “I don’t know whether it’s constitutional or not; it is certainly a horrible policy,” Buck said. “The idea that the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe. And that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better.”

    During an appearance in May on a local radio program, Buck suggested that the government should not be in the business of providing student loans.

    “Over time, we have to wean the American public off those,” he said.

    On several occasions, he’s advocated for a closer relationship between God and government. Last fall, at a forum at Colorado Christian University, the Colorado Statesman reported that Buck “emphasized his conservative values, expressing his opposition to the principle of separating church and state.”

    Throw in a call to scrap the Department of Education and Buck’s support for “birther” legislation in response to a minority that fears President Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen, and Democrats have the ingredients for a series of defining ads that could frame Buck on the fringe.

    Ouch. Being compared to Rand Paul and Sharron Angle is not strong praise. To review, here’s a quick list of the problematic statements for Buck:

  • Social Security is bad

  • Government-funded student loans are bad

  • Elimate the Department of Education

  • President Obama may not be a citizen

  • Separation of church and state is bad
  • These positions may be swell in rallying support for a Republican Primary, but Buck is going to have some ‘splaining to do to the swing voters in Colorado who, time and time again, have shown their preference for the most moderate candidate.

    Why is This So Important?

    The story of the possible job offer from the White House for Democrat Andrew Romanoff continues to be news, but for reasons we fail to understand. As “The Fix” reports today:

    Romanoff was not in elected office when the alleged offer came. The former state House speaker was actively seeking out career options last year, and for a time appeared to be close to becoming Gov. Bill Ritter’s (D) lieutenant governor. “Andrew’s situation is a little different in that he wasn’t a member of Congress,” said Colorado Democratic consultant Steve Welchert, who is neutral in the Senate primary. “Andrew was a term-limited member of the House. He was putting out a number of feelers.” With Romanoff looking at his options, a job offer from Democratic leaders wouldn’t have looked as overtly political. At the same time, the Denver Post reported that the conversations did take place after he entered the Senate race.

    Whether any of this winds up becoming much of an issue is still up in the air but Romanoff’s campaign is doubling down on its no-comment policy at the moment.

    Reached Tuesday, Teicher, the Romanoff spokesman, would neither budge nor elaborate on his reasons for not commenting.

    “I’m not going to expound on that, and I’m not going to get into an analysis of why we’re not commenting,” Teicher said. “I would just ask you to please accept the no comment, because that is all we are offering.”

    For now.

    This is the key point that local news editorials and others are repeatedly, maybe even intentionally missing in order to gin up some news in a slow week–Romanoff didn’t have a job for most of 2009. Of course he would be looking around for jobs after being term-limited out of the state legislature. And as the former Speaker of the House in a moderate Western state, it’s very easy to imagine that the Obama administration would at least discuss some sort of role for Romanoff.

    The only potential question in all of this is whether Romanoff was offered a significant position in the Obama administration, and only because the answer might show how concerned (or unconcerned) the White House was about a potential challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet. If the only thing Romanoff was offered was Assistant Under-Secretary to the Assistant’s Assistant to the Ambassador of Nowhereland, then we could see why Romanoff wouldn’t want to discuss it.

    Otherwise…who cares? How is this even sort of a scandal?

    We’ve said repeatedly that we thought it was a mistake for Romanoff to enter the Senate race last August, primarily because we thought he had waited way too long; had Romanoff entered the race last March, that would have made a lot more sense. But if Romanoff decided that he would rather run for Senate than take a job in the Obama administration, well, okay. That’s certainly his decision to make, and it’s not at all something that rises to any sort of scandal.

    Do the voters (clutch pearls) need to know if Romanoff was offered a job? No. They don’t.  

    UPDATE: NPR’s Jeff Brady reports:

    Andrew Romanoff upset the Democratic establishment in Colorado last fall when he announced plans to challenge incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. Now, Romanoff says President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina called him last September and said three positions might be available to him were he to drop out of the race.

    Romanoff says Messina never made any guarantees, and no job offer was ever made.

    In an e-mail, Romanoff said two of the jobs were executive positions with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the third was director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency…

    “Mr. Romanoff was recommended to the White House from Democrats in Colorado for a position in the administration,” White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. “There were some initial conversations with him, but no job was ever offered.”

    Messina, a tough-minded veteran of Senate politics and one of the president’s best fixers, spoke with Romanoff on Sept. 11, 2009, and suggested that Romanoff might better use his time at the USAID.

    “He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions,” Romanoff said in the statement. [Pols emphasis]

    State Convention Roundup

    The Democratic and Republican state conventions have come to a close, clarifying some ballot positions but complicating others…


    The story of the day, without a doubt, is Republican Dan Maes’ upset victory over Scott McInnis for topline on the GOP ballot for Governor. Maes almost certainly cannot go on to win this Primary, but make no mistake — this is a devastating blow to McInnis. Maes is spending most of what he raises on himself, but despite no money, no name recognition, and a last-minute campaign to discredit him, he still somehow edged McInnis on Saturday.

    Maes’ victory is more about McInnis’ failings than anything else, and it will force McInnis to spend considerable time and money making sure he wins a Primary that he really can’t afford (literally and figuratively) to worry about. More problematic for McInnis is that he now must spend the next few months going even further to the right with his rhetoric in order to try to win back a base that abandoned him for a guy in Maes who really has no business being this close to becoming Governor. The further that McInnis goes to the right, of course, the harder it will be for him to win back moderate voters in a General Election. This is absolutely the worst-case scenario for Republicans hoping to win back the Governor’s Mansion.

    Democrat John Hickenlooper has not run an impressive campaign for Governor to this point, and his lack of a ground game has many Democrats concerned, but Saturday’s results at the GOP Assembly has laid this race out on a silver platter for him. As long as Hickenlooper runs even a somewhat decent campaign, it’s hard to see how he won’t end up as Colorado’s next Governor now.


    Republican Ken Buck easily won his Party’s nomination, with both Jane Norton and Tom Wiens going the petition route, so there’s not much to say here.

    As for the Democrats, Andrew Romanoff won topline with a 60-40 margin over Sen. Michael Bennet, which means…absolutely nothing. That’s no knock on Romanoff, but just the reality given today’s margin is about the same that he held over Bennet after the caucuses; the only thing that would have made any difference in this race would have been holding Bennet under the 30% threshold required to make the ballot, but that was always unlikely. There’s really nothing different today that wasn’t already true yesterday.

    This is still a good day for Romanoff, but unfortunately for him, tomorrow’s headlines will be all about Maes and his surprise win in the GOP race for Governor. After the 2004 Democratic convention, the headlines were all about Mike Miles beating Ken Salazar, but Romanoff won’t be the top story tomorrow. That’s a tough break for a campaign that really needs to try to generate some sort of fundraising momentum out of today; Maes’ win was the worst-case scenario for McInnis, but it was also the worst thing that could have happened to the Romanoff campaign (since he was never likely to lose to Bennet).

    At the end of the day, however, nothing has really changed in the Senate race on either side of the aisle. The big questions — can Buck and Romanoff raise the money to have a significant television presence — won’t be resolved by anything that happened today.


    This was the only other significant race to play out today, and only on the GOP side. Ali Hasan failed to make threshold for ballot access, giving a big victory to J.J. Ament, who now waits to see if Walker Stapleton will have enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot (which he should). This is a significant win for Ament, since Hasan’s family has strong ties in the Republican Party and Ali had already spent a lot of money on ads. Ament’s overwhelming victory is a show of organizational efficiency that, in our eyes, now makes him the frontrunner to win the Republican Primary.

    We still don’t think Ament or Stapleton can defeat incumbent Democrat Cary Kennedy in November, but today’s results are not ideal for the Dems. Kennedy certainly would have preferred to see a three-way primary, with Hasan spending a lot of his own money to beat up both Ament and Stapleton.


    PPP Poll: Buck, Norton Tightening, Bennet Pulling Away

    A new poll out today from Public Policy Polling shows that Republicans Jane Norton and Ken Buck are headed for a close finish, while on the Democratic side, Sen. Michael Bennet is pulling away from Andrew Romanoff:

    Norton leads Buck 31-26.  When PPP looked at the race in March she had a 34-17 lead. Buck actually has the 34-30 advantage with conservatives but Norton continues to lead overall thanks to a 32-12 edge with moderates.

    Buck has seen his favorability improve from 21% to 32%, while Norton’s has dropped from 41% to 34%.  It’s clearly a two candidate race at this point with none of the other contenders getting more than 5%…

    …On the Democratic side Michael Bennet has widened his lead over Andrew Romanoff to 46-31 after being ahead just 40-34 on the previous poll.  Bennet is doing well across the ideological spectrum, holding double digit leads with liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.

    “In Colorado the Democratic primary was supposed to be competitive and the GOP one a foregone conclusion,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.  “But it seems like the opposite of that is happening. Bennet has expanded his lead while Buck and Norton are headed for a close one.”

    More on this poll in roguestaffer’s diary

    If At First You Don’t Succeed…Keep Beating Your Head on the Wall?

    We’ve discussed the problems with Democrat Andrew Romanoff’s campaign for U.S. Senate on several occasions in this space. We’ve long said that Romanoff’s biggest problem is a lack of fundraising that will enable him to go up on TV and counteract the millions that Sen. Michael Bennet has socked away for ads of his own.

    But even if Romanoff was able to raise a significant amount of money, we’re starting to wonder if would even matter because of his campaign’s apparent inability to find a message that works and a refusal to accept when a strategy has failed. Today The Colorado Statesman takes another look at a story that they first reported a few weeks ago:

    U.S. Senate primary candidate Andrew Romanoff’s campaign doubled down this week on charges that incumbent Michael Bennet failed to protect college students from predatory lenders.

    In a stinging rebuttal signed by Romanoff communications director Roy Teicher and published in last week’s Colorado Statesman, the Democratic challenger accused The Statesman of falling for “a mosaic of near-facts, smoothly and cynically crafted by the Bennet campaign” to divert attention from an attack Romanoff unleashed last month in Colorado Springs at the second debate between the two candidates.

    “Michael, you know, proprietary colleges are gouging students with predatory loans,” Romanoff said to Bennet during the final minutes of the debate April 23. “One of those colleges, Westwood, is even facing, now, two class-action lawsuits for fraud. Your committee, the Senate banking committee, had a chance to protect students from that kind of financial abuse, and you did nothing. You did take $2,400 from Westwood College three days before that bill came to a committee. My question is, is that just the way Washington works?”

    Other diarists have written before about this angle of attack when it first popped up, but we hadn’t paid much attention to it until now. What seemed like a failed attack on Bennet — no harm done, every campaign takes shots that don’t hit home — has become a weird vendetta against The Statesman. And it’s a vendetta about something that is way too complicated and minute to really hurt Bennet anyway. Romanoff’s camp tried to make a big controversy out of this, but it didn’t work (for a number of reasons, including the fact that it doesn’t appear that the charge is accurate). But rather than moving on, Romanoff’s spokesman fired off an angry Op-Ed at The Statesman and the campaign keeps clinging to this like the last life raft on a sinking ship.

    Here’s just a few of the problems with what the Romanoff camp is doing right now, and how it all comes back to their core problems from day one:

    1. It’s not at all clear, as Ernest Luning has reported in the Statesman on two separate occasions now, that the charges coming from Romanoff are even accurate. As the headline from Luning’s April 30 story summarized, “Romanoff fires ‘Westwood bullet’ at Bennet, but record suggests it’s a dud.” Luning was apparently compelled to revisit the story, and here’s what he wrote in today’s edition:

    A fresh examination of the controversy reveals a different story than the one promoted by Teicher.

    Contrary to Teicher’s assertion, the kind of loan offered by Westwood College – and thousands of other private, for-profit colleges across the country – recently came under the authority of Regulation Z of the federal Truth in Lending Act, adding numerous disclosure requirements and other protections for student borrowers.

    In addition, the Senate financial regulation bill supported by Bennet would regulate “gap loans” made by Westwood and other for-profit colleges, not leave them alone, as Teicher contended.

    Moreover, an amendment sponsored by Bennet and adopted by the Senate banking committee adds particular protection for students borrowing from private schools by establishing a Private Education Loan Ombudsman – a layer of oversight beyond what was proposed in a House amendment the Romanoff campaign cites as its model for what Bennet should have done in the Senate

    Maybe the Romanoff campaign is right, and The Statesman just doesn’t understand this problem after two long stories in three weeks. Or maybe the Romanoff campaign, in their zeal to find some sort of useful attack on Bennet, just didn’t quite connect all the dots. Either way, the point is the same: IT DIDN’T WORK! The Romanoff campaign wasn’t going to suddenly turn this attack back around, so they should have dropped it and looked for something else.

    2. This whole line of attack is way too complicated to damage Bennet. You really can’t explain this charge in less than a couple of minutes, which means there’s no way an average Primary voter is ever going to a) understand, or b) even care if they do understand. Hell, we couldn’t even tell you in less than a few paragraphs what this is all about. This attack was never going to stick on Bennet, even if it was accurate, because there are too many nuances at play. The fact that the Romanoff camp doesn’t understand this is a big part of their problem in general. This is a perfect example of how “Policy-wonk Andrew” keeps killing “Politician Andrew.”

    3. $2,400 is not a smoking gun. At the heart of this attack is the contention that Bennet took $2,400 from Westwood College and then voted on a bill that was of interest to the school (although a spokesman for Westwood has openly admitted that Bennet voted the opposite of how they would have liked). Even if Bennet’s campaign had taken this money, and then Bennet had done what Westwood wanted, you still have to try to tell people that a guy who has already raised $5 million would have sold his vote for $2,400. It just doesn’t seem like a realistic charge when we’ve heard stories about people like former Rep. William Jefferson keeping $90,000 in his freezer.

    Sure, $2,400 may be a lot in “Romanoff money” (since he only has $500k in the bank), but it’s not even a drop in the bucket for Bennet’s campaign. If Westwood had donated, say, $100,000 through bundling individual donations or something, then this might have been a little more interesting. But $2,400? Eh.

    4. The PAC attack isn’t working. That’s really what this all comes down to, because there’s no evidence that Bennet has been “bought” by anybody. You can’t just throw out a list of contributors and say, “See, this proves he’s corrupt!” Not only does that not prove anything, but most voters already know that incumbent politicians get money from a variety of different industries. This isn’t a shock to anyone, and that’s why Romanoff desperately needs some sort of connection like they hoped they had with the Westwood college thing.

    The bigger issue in all of this is what it says about Romanoff’s campaign, which went months without a message at all before finally settling on the “Bennet takes PAC money, but I don’t” theme. That Romanoff’s camp won’t seem to let go of this essentially disproved, and virtually unintelligible, attack on Bennet shows either a campaign dysfunction or an unspoken admission that they this is all they’ve got, even if they know it isn’t working.

    “The PAC attack” message in general hasn’t been the silver bullet that Romanoff thought it would be, so they need a new message, and quick. But unless he starts raising a lot more money, it won’t matter anyway; the message is just an internal memo if you don’t have a way to tell anyone.

    Pols Poll 3: U.S. Senate (Democrats)

    It’s been a long time since we last did this poll, so it’s long past time to do it again.

    As we’ve done in other election years, we regularly poll our readers on various races to gauge changing perceptions. These obviously aren’t scientific polls, but they do help to show how the perception of various candidates are changing. We’ll conduct these polls each month and then show the results to see how the winds are shifting.

    As always, please vote based on what you think will happen, not on who you would vote for or which candidate you support personally. Think of it this way: If you had to bet the deed to your house, who would you pick?

    Who Will be the Democratic Nominee for U.S. Senate?

    View Results

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    Bennet Slams “Nihilist” Tea Party

    Not to be missed, Huffington Post yesterday:

    In a recorded conversation at an LG[BT] event in Denver, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet slammed Tea Party activists’ views on government as “ludicrous,” “appalling” and “nihilistic.”

    Expanding upon comments regarding Colorado’s TABOR laws, which severely limits the resources available to state government, Bennet launched into a broader philosophical debate in which he expressed dismay at a philosophy that he feels lacks a sense of “responsibility to the next generation.”

    Bennet described the commitment of past generations of Americans to investing in the country’s future, and deplored an ideology that opposes such commitment.

    “Who do you think built the road that you traveled here on? Who do you think built the bridges and the sewers and the waste-water systems and invested in the higher education system that we now have. They built that stuff from scratch!… Our parents and our grandparents. And we can’t even maintain it?!”

    Amusingly, this recording of Michael Bennet was released by the GOP-leaning blog WhoSaidYouSaid, whose self-described speciality is catching Democrats on camera saying things they will come to regret later. Presumably, they thought they had a live one.

    Thing is, Bennet’s never going to regret this little dose of reality. It’s exactly what he should be doing, confronting the “Tea Party” movement and their wacky, reactionary notions of what America stands for head-on. If we were Bennet we’d make slamming the “Tea Party’s” ill-informed prattle part of every stump speech. The Pat Caddells of the world won’t like it, but others will find the message they’ve been waiting for all these months of pointy hats and Glenn Beck weeping. As for the “Tea Partiers” themselves? They were never going to vote for Bennet anyway.

    Big Line Updated

    The Big Line has been updated now that Democrat Andrew Romanoff’s fundraising numbers for Q1 have been reported.

    The biggest changes are on The Line are for Senate, Attorney General and CD-4…


    This race has really come down to three people now: Sen. Michael Bennet for the Democrats and Jane Norton and Ken Buck on the Republican side.

    Bennet is raising as much money, if not more, as anyone else in the country and has already put four ads up on television. Democrat Andrew Romanoff had a weak Q1 in fundraising, but more importantly, he only added about $23,000 to his total warchest after spending most of the $385,000 he raised.

    Romanoff is just out of time now. He’s got $500k in the bank, but most of that will be spent on general campaign operations in the next 3-4 months. That means that he needs to raise at least a million dollars in the next three months to be able to afford a strong TV presence opposite Bennet. Even the staunchest Romanoff supporter can’t be optimistic about the chances of that happening.

    As for the Republicans, Norton is the only one of the three candidates who is raising real money. Buck is getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside interest group money running ads on his behalf, so that has to be factored into his total ability to raise his profile. Tom Wiens, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to raise much money from people not named Tom Wiens, and he’s going to have to make a decision in the next month or two about what to do with the $500k he has “loaned” to his campaign; does he stay in the race and spend that cash, or pull out and refund his loan to himself?


    A few weeks ago incumbent Republican John Suthers looked like a lock for re-election. But then he went and got involved in the health care reform lawsuit, and as a result he now has a serious Democratic challenger in Boulder County D.A. Stan Garnett. Suthers is as dull a politician as you will find, and Garnett has the ability to raise a lot of money in a very short time. At the very least, this race is now a tossup.


    Republican Cory Gardner had a good Q1 in fundraising, and the rest of the GOP field seems to have disintegrated. Gardner surely can’t wait for the legislative session to end so that he can stop having to take so many absences to head off to fundraise elsewhere. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey had another strong fundraising quarter and continues to do just about everything right. This race is going to get tighter, but we still give Markey the edge.

    Spend It If You’ve Got It

    According to “Hotline” (subscription required), Sen. Michael Bennet had one of the hottest burn rates in the country in Q1:

    Spent Most In 1stQ

    McMahon ($4.82M), McCAIN ($3.06M), LINCOLN ($2.00M), Rubio ($1.83M), Fiorina ($1.66M), Lowden ($1.58M), Binnie ($1.54M), BENNET ($1.31M) [Pols emphasis], REID ($1.03M), Toomey ($1.03M)

    Ordinarily we’d tell a cautionary tale about spending so much money so early in a race, but like anything else involving fundraising, a burn rate is all relative compared to what’s happening with your opponents.

    Bennet spent more money in Q1 than anyone else in the race (except for Jane Norton) has raised in total. That’s the luxury you have when you put in the time and effort required for raising money. Bennet still has about $3 million more in his warchest than anyone else; hell, you could add up the cash on hand amounts of the other four candidates combined and still not come close to what Bennet has in the bank.

    Bennet’s burn rate is so high in large part because he’s already gone up on TV with three different commercials, so he’s not exactly pulling a Scott Gessler and pissing it all away (although Bennet’s commercials haven’t exactly been genius-level, either).

    Bennet’s fundraising has afforded his campaign the luxury of being on TV when the rest of the field has to be saving every dollar for July, and that is part of a point we have been making here for months: It’s not necessary for the other candidates to raise more money than Bennet in order to beat him, but they still need to stay in the general vicinity. And that hasn’t happened just yet.

    Norton Going Petition Route: Bennet Made Me Do It!

    UPDATE: Okay, this is weird. Norton confirms, and blames…Sen. Michael Bennet? From a press release (full release after the jump):

    In the wake of a decision by appointed Senator Michael Bennet to begin gathering petitions to secure his place on the Democrat primary ballot, US Senate candidate Jane Norton will turn her focus to meeting with party activists and disaffected voters from across the political spectrum as her campaign begins a grassroots petition drive.

    Uh, what in the hell does Bennet collecting petitions have to do with Norton collecting petitions? As we said below, there’s nothing wrong with collecting petitions (if you have the resources to do it), because it helps you develop a bigger list of potential supporters.

    But there is a major difference here. Norton is bypassing the Convention process altogether now, while Bennet is not; he’s just doing both.


    As The Colorado Statesman reports:

    Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck may find it a little lonely at his party’s state assembly on May 22. Former state Sen. Tom Wiens from Castle Rock, one of the three major candidates in the race, announced at the end of March that he’ll bypass the more traditional caucus-assembly route for ballot access and instead petition on.

    Now comes word that Jane Norton, who tied with Buck with roughly 37 percent in a straw poll taken March 16 at GOP precinct caucuses, may follow suit and use the petition method herself.

    The Norton campaign did not respond to requests for comment from The Colorado Statesman. But a source from a company that collects signatures for candidates in Colorado says the Norton campaign was presented with a proposal not too long ago and appeared receptive to the idea…

    …To gain access through the petition route, a candidate needs 1,500 verifiable signatures from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. The deadline is May 27. If Norton wants to hire petition circulators, she certainly has the money. Norton reported collecting more than $800,000 in the first quarter of this year.

    UPDATE: Reporting Wednesday confirms that following Republican caucus rules, Norton cannot simultaneously gather petitions for the August primary ballot and participate in the caucus process. We don’t remember when the last time this was an issue, probably during the Holtzman vs Beauprez primary in 2006, but it’s liable to matter quite a bit more this time. We’ve stricken a sentence below, as this rule does make Norton’s decision more consequential.

    The key question here is whether Norton would bypass the assembly process entirely and not participate, because if she’s going to do both then this isn’t a huge deal. We’ve always believed that Party insiders on both sides make too much out of a candidate’s decision to petition onto the ballot; frankly, it makes a lot of sense for a campaign to gather petitions, whether they need them for ballot access or not, because it allows you to build a nice list of potential supporters for the August primary and beyond.

    If true, this story says more about the growing strength of Ken Buck than it does about Norton, though the big question for Buck is still all about money. None of this will matter much unless Buck can raise enough money to have a solid presence on television.

    In the wake of a decision by appointed Senator Michael Bennet to begin gathering petitions to secure his place on the Democrat primary ballot, US Senate candidate Jane Norton will turn her focus to meeting with party activists and disaffected voters from across the political spectrum as her campaign begins a grassroots petition drive.

    “Every election is different, and this one is certainly different. We’re living in unique, historical times. Business as usual will not do as a way to conduct this campaign. This election for me has always been about focusing on the issues and unseating Michael Bennet,” commented Norton. “After much careful deliberation, I have decided we cannot afford to give the appointed Senator a two-month head start.  Our freedom is under attack, and that is why I need to take the fight as soon as possible to the Democrats, Michael Bennet, and Barack Obama to take back Colorado’s senate seat for the people of Colorado and help take back our government for the American people.

    “This is not a decision I have made lightly. I have participated in our precinct and convention process my whole life, and I remain respectful of these institutions. I admire the enthusiasm of the many party leaders who devote their efforts to promoting participation, including the 9,622 grassroots Republicans who honored me with their support in the caucus straw poll. The convention remains a vital part of Colorado’s political process, but the next six weeks are far too important to spend campaigning solely to a small bloc of voters.

    “So I will begin campaigning full-time for the primary today. I am blessed with a strong grassroots campaign organization in all 64 Colorado counties, and we will use that network to collect petition signatures, recruit new volunteers, expand our organization, and continue to bring our message of limited government to all corners of the state.

    “The appointed Senator’s decision to gather petitions will give him an opportunity to campaign on a broad public stage over the next six weeks, and that’s an advantage I will not cede to him. I will spend the next six weeks campaigning on the issues to the several hundred thousand Coloradans who will vote in the Republican primary, not to mention thousands of other unaffiliated and Democrat voters who are sick and tired of business as usual in Washington.

    “I’m Jane Norton, the daughter of a Marine who fought in one of the toughest battles of World War II.  I learned from him that freedom is worth fighting for. I cannot wait another day while the special interests in Washington and mysterious donors attack me with millions of dollars flooding Colorado’s airwaves. We have to stand up and begin the fight now to take Colorado’s senate seat back from Washington insiders and lifelong public office holders.

    “I can’t wait to mix it up with Harry Reid and the Good Ol’ Boys in Washington. And I can’t wait to engage in the primary contest. But the primary is a means to an end, and the ultimate end is to beat Michael Bennet and restore common sense, responsible fiscal leadership, and conservative values to the Senate. And that’s exactly what we will do.”

    Numerous Colorado Conservative leaders responded to the announcement:

    “Jane Norton was there with me at the state convention in 2002, 2004, and 2006 and I have every confidence she would perform admirably at the state convention this year. But each election is different, and clearly Michael Bennet’s decision to petition on has changed the game. This is a smart move that gives Republicans the best shot at victory in November.” – Governor Bill Owens

    “Jane Norton is the right candidate in this race. She’s had my full support from the beginning, and that support continues today and on into November.” – Senator Hank Brown

    “As a proud Tea Partier I have three words: Go Jane, Go! I’m excited to begin collecting signatures for Jane to prepare for the August primary and the next step in unseating Governor Ritter’s appointed Senator.” – Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland

    “Jane Norton will make a terrific United States Senator.  People have responded to her principles, integrity and passion with tremendous grassroots support.  She has the resources to win in November, and this step puts her closer to that goal.” – Former state treasurer Mark Hillman

    Show Colorado the Money!

    Around the country, political analysts will be paying close attention to the Q1 fundraising reports for the 36 U.S. Senate races. Colorado is one of the 8-10 seats around the country placed in the “toss-up” category (depending on the pundit), and as such there are many eyes upon our fair state.

    Many observers see Q1 as a make-or-break fundraising period for Democrat Andrew Romanoff and Republicans Ken Buck and Tom Wiens. But how much money should they be expected to raise in order to still have a chance to win in August or November? And how are Colorado’s candidates doing in their fundraising in comparison to other states?

    We compared Colorado’s fundraising numbers with those of similar states, and what we found is surprising: Most of Colorado’s Senate candidates are raising just a fraction of what candidates in other states are pulling down.

    For this purpose, we took a look at the 9 states around the country that have a similar number of Congressional members (a roundabout way of saying that these states are similar in size). Here are those 9 states with either 6, 7 or 8 Members of Congress: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

    Of those 9 states, one does not have a Senate race in 2010 (Minnesota), and 6 are considered by most national pundits to be safe seats (Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Maryland, South Carolina and Wisconsin). That leaves us with two other similarly-sized states with “competitive” Senate races in which to compare: Kentucky and Louisiana.

    Here’s how the fundraising numbers compare through the end of 2009, since most Q1 reports are not yet available. The numbers listed below represent total amounts raised through Dec. 31, 2009:


    Michael Bennet (D): $4.8 million

    Jane Norton (R): $1.1 million

    Tom Wiens (R): $728k

    Andrew Romanoff (D): $630k

    Ken Buck (R): $537k


    Jack Conway (D): $2.3 million

    Trey Greyson (R): $1.7 million

    Rand Paul (R): $1.7 million

    Dan Mongiardo (D): $1.47 million


    David Vitter (R): $4.5 million

    Charles Melancon (D): $1.96 million

    As you can see, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet has outraised everyone in this comparison, and among other Colorado candidates, only Republican Jane Norton is anywhere close to what the other candidates have been able to collect. Romanoff, Buck and Wiens aren’t even in the same ballpark.

    In other words, there’s going to be no way for Romanoff, Buck or Wiens to sugarcoat a poor Q1 of fundraising. Raising $300-400k just isn’t going to cut it at this point in the race. Frankly, we’d say that anything significantly short of Norton’s $816,000 in Q1 is going to have the fat lady warming up her lungs. If Romanoff, Buck or Wiens fail to raise at least $750,000 in Q1, they won’t even be close to what other Senate candidates around the country had already raised before January.

    As we’ve said before, in politics money begets more money because most major donors save their checks for the candidates most likely to win. It’s almost impossible to recover financially from a poor fundraising performance after April 1, because it’s so hard to convince people to write a big check when so few others have done so. And as we’ve said over and over again, without solid fundraising, you can’t get on TV. And if you can’t get on TV in a major statewide race, you cannot win. Period.

    “The Fix”: Romanoff’s Q1 Report One of 5 Most Important in Nation

    We’ve said it over and over and over again, and for all you conspiracy theorists out there, it’s not an uncommon belief. As “The Fix” explains in its list of “The Five Most Important Senate Fundraising Reports”:

    Andrew Romanoff: Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado state House, drew some positive press when he beat appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) in the state’s Democratic caucuses earlier this month. But, that victory will be rendered almost entirely meaningless if Romanoff can’t show an ability to stay within financial shouting distance of Bennet in advance of their primary faceoff in August. [Pols emphasis] Bennet raised $1.16 million in the final quarter of 2009 and had President Barack Obama in to raise money for him last month. Romanoff, on the other hand, brought in just $337,000 over the last quarter of 2009 of fundraising — not nearly enough to reach the far broader primary electorate in a meaningful way. Romanoff needs a better quarter to make a credible case that he can take Bennet down later this summer. [Pols emphasis]

    Buck to Run as Tea Party; Romanoff Considering Switch, Too?

    In a strange turn of events in a U.S. Senate race that has been particularly interesting this year, Republican Ken Buck has announced that he will change his Party affiliation to run for Senate under the “Tea Party” banner.

    Buck had a surprisingly strong effort in the GOP caucuses last month, but apparently his campaign’s internal numbers showed that he was strongest with Tea Party supporters and not as solid with traditional Republican voters. Worried that he might not be able to win a Primary with Republicans Jane Norton and Tom Wiens in the race, Buck’s chief strategist Walt Klein made the decision to switch Party affiliations from “Republican” to “Tea Party.”

    According to a statement issued late last night, Buck sounds excited about the move:

    “The Tea Party movement has re-energized conservatives in Colorado, and I am proud to place my name under their banner as the first official “Tea Party” Party candidate in our great state. I know it sounds weird to say ‘Tea Party Party,’ but it’s not as strange as some of things that Democrats have done to turn our great nation into a Socialist utopia.”

    The only hangup thus far in Buck’s plans appears to be the fact that the “Tea Party” in Colorado isn’t an actual political entity. But Klein insists that they will be able to rectify that problem in plenty of time for the Secretary of State to print ballots in September.

    In related news, we hear that Democrat Andrew Romanoff, faced with the daunting task of catching Sen. Michael Bennet in fundraising, is seriously considering a party switch of his own. Romanoff will not make the same last-minute mistake that Rep. Kathleen Curry made earlier this year; in switching her affiliation from Democrat to Independent, Curry made it impossible for her to win re-election unless she garners the most votes as a “write-in” candidate.

    Romanoff spokesman Dean Toda says that the campaign is considering a number of options for ballot access, including switching to the “American Constitution Party,” the “Whigs” or perhaps even the “Tories.” Said Toda in a statement released this morning:

    “Whether Andrew Romanoff is on the ballot as a Democrat, a Whig or a Torie makes no difference. He is still the only candidate who is not accepting PAC money, and he still is the most popular U.S. Senate candidate on both Facebook and MySpace.”

    Full press releases from both Buck and Romanoff after the jump.

    April Fools!

    Check out our April Fools post from last year for more nonsense.

    Hold the Confetti, Really

    There are two very different narratives taking shape in the wake of last Tuesday’s Democratic caucuses–one is what we’re seeing repeated quite a bit in national press, the story of candidate Andrew Romanoff’s “stunning victory” over appointed Sen. Michael Bennet, which dovetails nicely with the story of Ken Buck’s surprisingly strong finish in GOP Senate preference polls. We don’t begrudge out-of-state reporters for oversimplifying what happened in Colorado this week for the purposes of fitting the whole thing into one paragraph or TV news clip, c’est la vie.

    But the other narrative, which we think much more accurately reflects the process in Colorado and the state of this race generally, was reported by the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels today:

    Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff declared victory for the little guy in Tuesday night’s caucuses, saying “Main Street won, Wall Street lost,” but among the pundit class, the results were viewed differently.

    By barely cracking 50 percent among the people perceived as his base, Romanoff has a tough row to hoe to compete with Michael Bennet, his $3.7 million in the bank and deep support from the Obama administration, said political consultants Steve Welchert, a Democrat, and Katy Atkinson, a Republican…

    Democrats at their caucuses had only one major contested race, the matchup between Romanoff and Bennet, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January 2009. Romanoff received 50 percent to Bennet’s 41 percent.

    “We just saw the strongest day Romanoff is likely to have,” Welchert said. “The fact that the spread is 10 points evaporates when you’re going to be outspent 10-to-1.”

    Atkinson said she had expected Romanoff to top Bennet, but by a wider margin.

    With irony that few readers will miss, Romanoff’s biggest defender in Bartels’ story is none other than Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams:

    “Are you kidding me?” Wadhams said. “With all respect to my good friend Katy, Romanoff didn’t even get into the race until September, and President Obama just came here and campaigned for Bennet.”

    We have a little bit of news to add to this parlor-game debate, which is really just a debate about impressions of impressions ahead of the parts of the primary process that matter: but impressions being the game today, you might be interested in knowing that Romanoff has dropped below the much-balleyhooed 50% threshold in the latest updated caucus preference poll results. As of 12:50PM MDT, Romanoff is sitting at 49.96%–unlike sale prices in the grocery store, a few cents off doesn’t actually make this number more appealing.

    Joking aside, our view hasn’t changed: Romanoff didn’t beat Bennet by enough of a margin to make Tuesday’s caucus preference poll “conclusive” either way, and that means Romanoff did not perform well enough to meaningfully affect the same long odds he faced before the caucuses.

    Steve Welchert is stating the simple facts of the matter above when he talks about Romanoff being outspent 10-1 in the coming months, and that is all that’s going to matter when it comes to reaching thousands of primary voters instead of hundreds of ardent party-activist caucusgoers. The same thing holds true for Buck on the Republican side; his victory on Tuesday is certainly significant, but if he has another $40,000 quarter of fundraising, none of this will make any difference come August. As we’ve said over and over, the voters who will decide the primary are not all that different than the voters who will decide the general election. They’re not that interested and not well-informed, so it’s going to take a lot of mail, radio, and especially television to get those votes–none of which you can buy with contrived moral rectitude.

    Caucus Winners and Losers

    The preference poll results from last night are now in, and although this is only round one in a long process that still must wind through counties and state assemblies, here’s how we see the results:

    On the Democrats’ side, we can’t really declare either Sen. Michael Bennet or Andrew Romanoff to be a “Winner” or a “Loser” from last night. Romanoff didn’t beat Bennet by a significant margin, so little has changed in this race in the last 24 hours. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to discuss on the Republican side, so let’s get to it…


    Ken Buck

    As we wrote yesterday, Buck’s campaign for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race obviously had a good feel for the likely results given that his manager was actually raising expectations rather than lowering them. Buck did just slightly better than Jane Norton (37.86% to 37.74%), but this is still a huge victory for the Weld County District Attorney because it shattered the idea of Norton as a clear frontrunner.

    Norton spent a lot of money on TV ads leading up to the caucus, and she still couldn’t even get to 40%. She’s now going to have to continue to spend money through the state assembly in order to hold on to her delegates and stem Buck’s momentum. Buck still has to show he can raise money after a pathetic Q4 that saw him raise just $40k, but the momentum is now on his side.

    Dan Maes

    Lost in the discussion over the U.S. Senate race was the fact that the unknown, poorly-funded Maes managed to pull nearly 40% in a preference poll for Governor. This is more an indictment of frontrunner Scott McInnis than a sign of strength for Maes, but nevertheless this is a big victory for a guy that nobody had even heard of a year ago.


    Scott McInnis

    If the results from last night’s preference polling holds through the state assembly, McInnis is going to have to really campaign to make sure he makes it out of a gubernatorial primary. Challenger Dan Maes has been a thorn in his side for a few months, but most people (including us) wouldn’t have expected Maes to actually be on the ballot in August. Maes likely couldn’t have afforded to petition on to the ballot, but now it looks like he might make it on through the caucus process, which is a massive blow to McInnis’ hopes of beating Democrat John Hickenlooper in November. McInnis will now have to expend real time and resources in the primary — neither of which he can afford to use up before a general election battle with Hick.

    Jane Norton

    We covered this in our discussion of Ken Buck above. The image of Norton as GOP frontrunner has been smashed, and she’s going to have to really ratchet up the fundraising (and the spending) in order to make sure she gets through the primary.

    Tom Wiens

    By picking up just 16% of the votes, Wiens came in a distant third to Buck and Norton in the GOP Senate polls and needs to go the petition route to make sure he makes it onto the ballot. Given that most of Wiens’ warchest comes from his own bank account, he’s got a decision to make. Does he spend the money to gather the necessary petition signatures and continue his campaign? Or does he take the caucus results as a sign that he might not have the support to win a primary? We don’t think Wiens is out of the running by any means — not with Norton’s poor performance and Buck’s meager finances — but last night was definitely a “fork in the road” moment for him.

    Who is the Biggest Winner from Caucus Night?

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    The Caucus Spin: Who REALLY Has the Most at Stake?

    As Politico reports today, the spin is in full effect on the eve of tonight’s caucuses. Read some of the quotes after the jump, including our take on who really has the most at stake in the race for U.S. Senate…including a potential glimpse into the results.

    …history shows that a victory in the first step of Colorado’s complicated election process only occasionally translates into success in the primary. Over the past four decades, just three statewide candidates who have captured the backing of the state assembly through the caucus process went on to become their party’s nominee.

    Former Sen. Ken Salazar and Tom Strickland – the last two Democratic Senate nominees in Colorado who faced contested primaries – both lost the caucuses…

    …”The caucus and the assembly process is the most favorable turf possible for Speaker Romanoff. If he can’t win convincingly on Tuesday, it’s very hard to see where he goes from there,” Bennet campaign manager Craig Hughes said.

    “I’d consider it a victory if Romanoff is competitive against Bennet, who has exploited all the advantages of incumbency and has the support of the Washington establishment from the White House on down,” Romanoff spokesman Dean Toda said. “Against those odds, if Romanoff gets 50 plus 1, it would send a powerful signal.”

    The Republican front-runner is also bracing for a competitive caucus night. While former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton has an advantage in fundraising and polls, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck is poised to pull off an upset.

    Over the weekend, Buck won the endorsement of one of Colorado’s largest tea party organizations, Hear Us Now!

    “Ken and the campaign feel very good going in,” Buck adviser Walt Klein said. “Norton is supposed to be the front-runner, but I think Ken Buck is going to give her a run for her money. I think he’s going to be competitive, and that’s all he has to do to build on the momentum. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ken won by a small margin and Jane finished second,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

    Klein predicted that from 50,000 to 60,000 Republicans will participate, a number that would be higher than average, but that still represents just a sliver of the electorate.

    Norton’s campaign, which has already spent nearly $260,000 on television advertisements, appeared to downplay the caucus as just one part of a long primary process.

    “The straw poll is a sideshow to the real purpose of tomorrow night: electing delegates to begin the nominating process. We’re not taking anything for granted, and an unscientific straw poll isn’t going to change our strategy one bit,” Norton spokesman Nate Strauch said.

    We’ve highlighted what is definitely the most interesting quote we’ve seen to date about the caucuses. The spin game is all about lowering expectations for your candidate and raising them for your opponent, which is why the quote from Republican Ken Buck’s advisor, Walt Klein, is so interesting. You don’t say something like what Klein said unless you are fairly confident about the likely results, so we’re guessing that Buck’s campaign has counted the votes and sees good things in their guy’s future tonight.

    If Buck wins the caucus, that will certainly give him some momentum, but at the end of the day he still needs to do much, much better at raising money (after a measly $40k in Q4 2009) if he is going to have a chance in August. Tonight isn’t as meaningful for Norton, unless she really bombs, because her campaign has always been more focused on a broader section of voters. We’re most interested in seeing the results for Tom Wiens, who was the last of the three Republicans to enter this race. Wiens isn’t well known among GOP primary voters, but what kind of support will he garner among the more active caucus-goer Republicans?

    As for the Democratic side, it’s no secret — no matter the spin — that this is a huge night for Andrew Romanoff. For months he and his supporters have talked about all the things that Romanoff did for Democrats while in the state legislature, and about how all the county chairs supported him for the Senate appointment in late 2008. Romanoff’s team can’t lower expectations at this point because they’ve already spent six months explaining why the kind of people who will attend the caucus are exactly the kind of people who want him in the Senate. By his own spin, Romanoff is supposed to be the most popular of the two Democrats among activist Democrats; he set this night up to be important by his own message.

    With that said, there’s only two real scenarios that matter on the Democratic side:

    1. Romanoff holds Bennet under the 30% threshold to qualify for the ballot

    2. Bennet beats Romanoff by more than 5 points in a low-turnout caucus

    Under the first scenario, Romanoff would have real momentum coming out of the caucus and might be able to use that to raise significant money. Romanoff could say that he can beat Bennet without the same kind of resources, and a sitting Senator would have to explain how he couldn’t even get his name on the ballot through his own base.

    Under scenario #2, Romanoff would have to explain why the one base of voters he has always talked about is not in his corner. If this happens, then it’s really hard to see how Romanoff can end up winning the primary. His road to victory, until this point, was that a committed base of Democrats would carry him over the line in a low-turnout primary; without that committed base, how do you map out a new winning strategy?

    Now, if neither of these two scenarios take place, then nothing really changes tomorrow. It doesn’t really tell us anything if Romanoff wins 60-40, because that’s what his supporters have always led people to believe — that activist Democrats like him better. There’s nothing new there.

    Likewise, what do we learn if either candidate wins a close ballot in a high-turnout caucus? We have been led to believe that Romanoff supporters are activist Democrats who will turn out to help him. We have been led to believe that Bennet’s ties to President Obama and his organizing network will really help the Senator. In a close race with a strong turnout, both of these things remain true.

    There’s a good possibility that tonight will have a significant effect on the outcome of the Republican and Democratic primaries. There’s also a good possibility that tonight will end up meaning very little. Thus the mystery that is the caucus system in Colorado.

    Rep. Ed Perlmutter Endorses Bennet

    Just released today, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter has officially endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet. From a press release:

    Democrats in Colorado are blessed to have two highly qualified men running to represent Colorado in the United States Senate. One is our sitting US Senator, Michael Bennet, the other is our former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Andrew Romanoff.

    I have remained neutral in their primary until now, because I believe both men are gifted and talented public servants of whom Colorado can be proud. However, I have decided to endorse Michael Bennet in this primary. Over the past year, Michael’s diligence, determination and dedication to solving problems and moving Colorado and America forward have earned my trust, respect and full support.

    Perlmutter and Denver Rep. Dianna DeGette had been the only Democratic members of Colorado’s delegation to not take a side in the Senate primary, but of the two Perlmutter’s support is definitely more important. Perlmutter’s district boundaries include large portions of two of Colorado’s biggest and most electorally important counties — Jefferson and Adams — and his support will carry particular weight among Jefferson County Democrats who might have been inclined to back Andrew Romanoff.

    More commentary from a Pols diarist here.

    Caucus Prediction Time: Democrats

    It’s time to cast those votes on the caucus process. Click below to vote, and remember: As always, we want to know your best educated guess.

    For example, can Sen. Michael Bennet still be considered a “winner” after Tuesday even if it looks like Andrew Romanoff got more pledged support? You could say yes, considering that the caucus is supposed to be Romanoff’s real base; but you could also say no, arguing that an incumbent Senator should not lose in a caucus process.

    So vote below, and then offer your comments on what the caucus process means for the candidates. We’ll offer our opinion later in the week.

    Who Has the Most to Lose at Next Tuesday's Caucus?

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    New Rasmussen Polling on Senate Race

    Rasmussen Reports is out with new poll numbers on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race.

    As we’ve said over and over, head-to-head polling (of general election voters) matching up candidates from different parties is virtually meaningless at this point in the race. Probably 95% of voters aren’t paying any attention whatsoever right now, so polling today is basically asking people their opinions about two people they don’t know anything about. Matchup numbers today will look completely different in three months once the candidates start advertising heavily — that’s when these numbers will tell us something meaningful.

    For example, this poll shows that Republican Ken Buck would beat both Democrats Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff in a head-to-head race. But as you’ll see below, basically only 22% of voters even know anything about Buck. What this really means is that “unknown Republican” beats “unknown Democrat,” but given the recent anti-incumbent trends, we already knew that.

    The only numbers worth looking at this early in a race, which Rasmussen acknowledges, are those that show “very favorable” and “very unfavorable” ratings; in order to have a “very” favorable or unfavorable opinion of someone, you probably know something about them. With that in mind, here are the “very” favorable/unfavorable numbers:


    Jane Norton: 21%

    Andrew Romanoff: 17%

    Michael Bennet: 16%

    Ken Buck: 12%

    Tom Wiens: 11%


    Ken Buck: 10%

    Tom Wiens: 11%

    Andrew Romanoff: 19%

    Jane Norton: 21%

    Michael Bennet: 26%

    What does this mean? It looks like a pretty clean slate all around. Nobody’s “very unfavorables” are too bad (and nobody has great favorables, either) which says that there isn’t a huge hurdle for any candidate to overcome. Back in 2005, then-Rep. Bob Beauprez had very high unfavorable ratings more than a year before the election for governor, which portended an uphill climb for Beauprez; for obvious reasons, it’s hard to get people to change a negative opinion about you.

    Without seeing detailed results, it’s hard to know how much of Bennet’s unfavorables are because of him personally or because of a negative attitude towards incumbents generally. The most interesting number is Norton’s 21% “very unfavorable” rating; do people dislike Jane Norton, or do they dislike some other Norton? There must be some “Norton confusion” here, because when you add up both numbers, she is as well known as the incumbent Sen. Bennet. Elsewhere, we don’t see anything noteworthy about Romanoff’s numbers, good or bad, and Wiens and Buck remain a mystery to voters.

    Romanoff Campaign Morphing Into Mike Miles 2004

    We wrote last week that the U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat Andrew Romanoff had officially jumped the shark when he used the name of 2004 Senate hopeful Mike Miles in a fundraising email. Our point at the time was not that Miles is a bad messenger in and of himself, but that it was disastrous for Romanoff to publicly align himself with someone whose Senate campaign was a hopeless disaster; Romanoff is certainly of a different political pedigree than Miles, but he can’t afford the image that he is running a race — like Miles ran in 2004 — that has no hope of succeeding.

    Well yesterday, Romanoff’s campaign sent out an email from supporters Polly Baca and Ramona Martinez that continues the drumbeat that they are mad at President Barack Obama for supporting Sen. Michael Bennet, etc., etc. Here’s a snippet:

    We are alarmed that this long standing tradition has been violated by the current National Democratic Party and our current President, whom we both supported for election.  It is inappropriate and unacceptable for national Democratic Party officials and the President of the United States, who is the titular head of the Democratic Party, to engage in Democratic primaries.  Colorado Democrats have the inalienable right and intelligence to select their own candidate for the highest political position in the state without interference from our Democratic leaders in D.C. who are supposed to be supportive of our local parties and candidates.

    Perhaps Romanoff and his supporters are correct in that Obama shouldn’t be getting involved in Democratic primaries, but what’s done is done. This obsession over Obama helping Bennet is practically the only thing you hear from Romanoff and his supporters anymore, and it is eerily reminiscent of the 2004 Senate race.

    When then-Attorney General Ken Salazar entered the Senate race in March 2004 and subsequently began racking up endorsements, supporters and big checks, Miles supporters were beside themselves that the “Democratic Party,” and their particular bogey man, Party Chair Chris Gates, were supporting Salazar instead of letting the process play out.

    The conspiracy allegations were silly and juvenile (not to mention without evidence), but they became both the fuel and the flame out of the Miles campaign. Instead of a race focused on solid campaigning and issues, virtually all you heard from Miles and his supporters was about the unfairness of big bully Democrat power brokers who supported Salazar when they should have remained neutral.

    The very same thing is now happening with the Romanoff campaign, which has become obsessed with complaining about Obama’s involvement in the race rather than focusing on campaigning, fundraising and delivering a solid message to the 99.9% of primary voters who don’t give a rat’s ass about this insider squabbling. Should the Democratic Party remain neutral in a Democratic primary? The answer isn’t important, because the campaign is asking the wrong question. We could count on two hands, and maybe a foot, the number of people who are truly interested in listening to that discussion.

    Focusing on Obama’s support of Bennet is also baffling for another reason: Democrats still like President Obama, and Bennet is surely pleased every time he sees an email from Romanoff’s campaign reminding people that the President endorsed his opponent. Yeah, it sucks that President Obama endorsed your opponent. But why the hell do you keep talking about it? Hey, did you hear? The President has endorsed Michael Bennet. Isn’t that horrible?

    As we’ve said over and over again, this race has a long way to go before the ballots are counted. But unless Romanoff starts really doing something different — something besides complaining about insider squabbles and PAC checks — then this has all the makings of the 2004 primary that Salazar won with 73% of the vote.