New American Crossroads Ads Targeting Bennet

As “The Fix” reports:

The conservative outside group American Crossroads is launching new ads in the Missouri and Colorado Senate races today…

…The Colorado commercial, which hits Sen. Michael Bennet (D) for remarking that “we have nothing to show for” the amount of debt the country has racked up, will air for one week in the Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction media markets and is part of a $550,000 buy.

To date, American Crossroads, which was formed by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove, has raised better than $17 million — the bulk of which has been spent on television ads targeting Democrats running for the Senate.

American Crossroads’ ads had been pulled in Missouri amid allegations of illegal coordination, but apparently that issue has been cleared up (or at least the investigation delayed). As we wrote in that story, Buck must continue to see these ads in Colorado if he is going to defeat Bennet, because he hasn’t raised enough money on his own to match the incumbent on TV.

When is Bennet’s “Term” Officially Over?

UPDATE: Bennet’s campaign tells the Wall Street Journal’s anonymous source “thanks for speculating” in a report at the Denver newspaper today, but he’ll be serving his full term regardless of what happens in November. And the Secretary of State’s spokesman Rich Coolidge confirms that Bennet’s term runs until the next Congress is sworn in January–assuming the relevancy of the question to begin with, naturally.

A nice rumor to plant, but Karl Rove doesn’t need any more reasons to spend money here.


Interesting blog post today at the Wall Street Journal regarding Sen. Michael Bennet and speculation about a potential lame-duck session of Congress after Election Day:

There seems to be a dispute brewing over when Colorado’s new U.S. senator would take his seat, at least if Republican Ken Buck beats incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

State officials tell Washington Wire the new senator would be sworn in on Jan. 3, with the new Congress. But Republican officials say the state law indicates that Bennet’s term, since he was appointed to fill a vacancy, should actually end immediately after the election.

Four other Democratic Senators who were appointed to their current posts are also up for re-election this year, so we’ll likely be hearing more about this at some point. In the meantime, are there any election law Polsters out there who can tell us the Colorado answer? Whether or not Bennet is re-elected, technically there is an end date on his current term, right?

As confusing as this may be, it could be worse — we could be in Illinois:

In Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois, where the term of appointed Sen. Roland Burris ends after the election, voters will actually vote twice in that race in November – to fill the final weeks of Obama’s unexpired term and then for the new Senate term starting in January.

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Who Will Win the U.S. Senate Race?

Okay, Polsters, it’s time to start counting down the weeks to Election Day by asking you who you think is going to win the race for U.S. Senate. We’ll keep doing these polls until Election Day to help us all get a sense for how perception of various races are changing (or not).

Remember, we want to know what you believe will happen, not what you might want to happen. To repeat our usual description, if you had to bet everything you owned on the outcome of this race, who would you pick?

Who Will Win the U.S. Senate Race?

View Results

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Bennet Leads Buck as Third Party Candidates Pull Votes

New bipartisan polling data released today shows the U.S. Senate race to be a dead heat, while the race for Governor is what we all thought it was — in the bag for Democrat John Hickenlooper.

According to the polling memo, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet leads Republican Ken Buck 43-40, while Hickenlooper (48%) is running away with the Governor’s race over both Republican Dan Maes (25%) and American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo (15%):

A recently conducted survey of Colorado voters conducted by the bi-partisan research team of Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies (R) and David Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (D) highlights two very different races at the “top of the ticket” in Colorado. The results of the survey show a dead heat for U.S. Senate with Republican Ken Buck and Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet’s support within margin of error of the other (43% Bennet and 40% Buck). The data also shows how general antipathy toward both parties is having an impact on electoral politics this year, as a Libertarian candidate garners 5% of the vote – greater than the margin between the two major party candidates.

“The anti-Washington sentiment and general political environment would seemingly be working against Bennet,” stated Lori Weigel. “Incumbents tend to receive what they see in the polling, with undecided voters more likely to opt for change. However, this year, with disgust at politics and both parties running high, we have the potential for relatively unknown third party candidates to siphon off enough votes to change traditional campaign dynamics.” [Pols emphasis]

That last quote from Weigel is what we were talking about last week when we said that any poll in CD-4 that doesn’t include the third-party candidates on the ballot is inaccurate. Also particularly interesting to note is that the poll shows 85% of Democrats backing Bennet but only 76% supporting Buck, which is understandable given Buck’s far-right positions on many issues.

As for the Governor’s race:

The gubernatorial race appears to be a foregone conclusion, barring a fundamental shift in the race dynamics. Democrat John Hickenlooper is capturing 48% of the statewide vote, compared to just 25% opting for Republican Dan Maes and 15% selecting Tom Tancredo, running on the American Constitution Party label. Whether Tancredo is siphoning off GOP support that could have been available, or whether Maes’ self-inflicted wounds have boosted Tancredo’s support is open to interpretation. However, the former Congressman’s presence on the ballot and Maes’ continued problems appear to have all but sealed Democratic retention of the Governor’s mansion…

…Even before all of the prominent withdrawals of endorsements, rank and file Republicans’ support for their party’s nominee was tepid. Just 50% of Republicans say they would vote for Maes if the election was being held today, while 24% defect to Tancredo and 12% to Hickenlooper. This stands in stark contrast to Hickenlooper’s support within his party, as 84% of Democrats choose their party’s nominee for Governor.

Sept. 3, 2010: The Day the Colorado GOP Changed Forever

September 3, 2010.

Remember this day, folks, because in the coming years politicos, reporters, bloggers and everyone with an interest in Colorado politics will point back to this day to mark the moment when the Colorado Republican Party changed completely, and perhaps irrevocably. Whether or not this change will be remembered as something positive or negative may not be known until well after Election Day in November, and maybe not until Winter 2011, when Republicans across the state elect new local and statewide leadership. But make no mistake — nothing can ever be the same in the Colorado GOP after weeks of events that culminated on Friday.

Because on Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, the State Republican Party told every Republican voter that the caucus and the primary only matter so long as you choose the candidate they want you to choose. Otherwise, your vote means nothing. Incredibly, and inexplicably, the Colorado Republican Party officially declared that a small handful of people will make decisions for you, no matter what the election results say.

In fact, two major changes have occurred: 1) The Republican Party decided that a small committee of people can choose whether or not to support a candidate that Republican voters elected, and 2) Top Republicans have splintered their support in the governor’s race in three different directions. Party unity? There’s no going back from here.

The Colorado Statesman has an excellent story from Jody Strogoff and Ernest Luning about the events surrounding the Republican efforts to get Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes off of their ballot. You really need to read the whole thing, but we’ll break down a couple of key sections to illustrate our point after the jump.

the Colorado Republican Party has officially abandoned its support of their nominee, with State Chairman Dick Wadhams saying he was “very disappointed in the decision by Dan Maes to continue his candidacy for governor. Revelations before and especially after the August 10th primary have raised serious questions about the veracity of how he has presented his professional background and career and have virtually destroyed any possibility of running a viable campaign.”…

…A story published earlier Friday by the Washington, D.C.-based Politico referenced an anonymous source who said Maes met Friday morning with members of the Colorado Republican Party’s executive committee. According to the political news site’s account, powerful Republicans confronted Maes with further “damaging evidence” about him that hadn’t yet been made public in a last ditch effort to force him from the race.

But GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams unequivocally denied that the meeting described in Politico had taken place.

“There was no meeting with Maes by me and/or the executive committee,” Wadhams told The Statesman on Friday afternoon. He also said the GOP did not have any “damaging evidence” against Maes, as was reported in the Politico story. Nate Strauch, spokesman for Maes’ campaign, also told The Statesman that the purported meeting did not occur.

However, a member of the state’s 24-member executive committee told The Statesman late in the day Friday that, while no official meeting of the executive committee had been convened, a member of the committee talked with Maes about the mounting negative information beginning to leak out about his personal and professional background. The top GOP official asked Maes to seriously consider withdrawing his name from the ballot before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline for ballot certification.

Maes’ decision to stay in the race was met with varied reaction from Republicans. Most stunning, perhaps, was an announcement issued by the Colorado GOP just minutes after Friday’s ballot certification deadline. The statement, signed by Wadhams, didn’t include Maes’ name on the list of Republican candidates that had the official support of the state party.

Because Dan Maes won the Republican nomination for governor, or more precisely, because of what Republicans did in response to that victory, the Colorado Republican Party has shattered in multiple directions. Colorado Republicans have been trying for weeks to force Maes out of the race with numerous private meetings and the leaking of damaging information about Maes in the last week (every top-level Democrat we’ve talked to last week insists that they had nothing to do with leaking information about Maes’ apparent fabrication that he was once an undercover police officer, and we believe them – Democrats have no interest in trying to force Maes out of the race for governor because he’s polling well behind Democrat John Hickenlooper). These efforts have been ongoing as the Colorado Republican Party has insisted that they were fully supportive of Maes.

But now, under the absurd guise that they are just now learning about what a bad candidate Maes will be (and let’s be honest here – anybody who read a newspaper or blog, or watched local TV in the last three months already knew that) – the State Freakin’ Party has officially decided not to support their own nominee for governor. And it’s transparently obvious why that decision was made: Because Maes wouldn’t withdraw from the race.

With the unprecedented move by the State GOP Party to abandon their own nominee for governor, there is nobody left to hold the ticket together – which is fundamentally the entire point of having a political party. Take a look at just how badly things have splintered:

  • The Colorado Republican Party: Officially Will NOT Support Maes for governor.

  • Steve Schuck, Prominent Republican and two-time candidate for governor in the 1980s: Publicly supporting Tom Tancredo, the American Constitution Party candidate for governor.

  • Mary Smith, Former Chair of the Denver County Republican Party: Publicly supporting Democrat John Hickenlooper for governor.

  • John Andrews, former Senate President and former GOP candidate for governor: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes and said that he will write-in Jane Norton for governor (the same Jane Norton who, just weeks earlier, lost her own primary for U.S. Senate to Ken Buck).

  • Wayne Allard, former U.S. Senator: Staying with his previous endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Paul Tauer, Former Aurora Mayor: Staying with his previous endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Dave Schultheis, outspoken term-limited State Senator: Staying with his previous endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Larry Mizel and Greg Maffei, prominent Republican businessmen and fundraisers: Publicly supporting Democrat John Hickenlooper and raising money for his campaign for governor.

  • Ken Buck, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Mike Coffman, Republican Congressman in CD-6: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Hank Brown, highly-regarded former U.S. Senator: Publicly withdrew his endorsement of Maes for governor.

  • Doug Lamborn, Republican Congressman in CD-5: Still supporting Maes after previous public endorsement.
  • As you can see, there is no spin or analysis needed here. This is an unequivocal and embarrassing mess for the Colorado Republican Party, and here’s why: 196,560 Republican voters selected Maes over Scott McInnis in the GOP primary. Many of those Maes votes were definitely a rejection of McInnis more than a selection of Maes, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maes fairly won the nomination, after winning top line at the state GOP convention. But the Colorado Republican Party just told those 196,560 voters that their vote doesn’t matter, because they decided, through their own little Executive Committee, that Dan Maes would not receive the support of the Colorado Republican Party.

    What makes this whole fiasco even more stunning is the incredible bald-faced hypocrisy of GOP Party Chair Dick Wadhams. Just last week (Aug. 25, to be exact), a quite unambiguous letter from State GOP Chair Dick Wadhams was sent to “Colorado Republican Leaders” in an effort to clear up any “unfortunate misperceptions” about Republican efforts to force Maes out of the race for governor. Here is that letter as reprinted in The Colorado Statesman (all bolding is Pols emphasis]:

    The Colorado Republican State Executive Committee unanimously adopted a resolution at our regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting in August stating clear support for Ken Buck for U.S. Senate and Dan Maes for Governor along with all other Republican candidates nominated for statewide, congressional, state legislative and county offices in the August 10 primary election. The resolution is attached. [Pols note: We left this last sentence unaltered, although the resolution is not attached here nor was it attached to the online story in the Statesman]

    Our Republican nomination process was open and fair from the beginning of this election cycle to any candidate who chose to compete and any Republican who wished to participate in our precinct caucuses, county and district assemblies, the state assembly and primary election.

    Unfortunately, the turmoil in the governor’s race has raised unfortunate misconceptions about the role of the Colorado Republican Party and, even more specifically, my role as state chairman.

    I have been inundated by emails and phone calls by those who have the misconception that Colorado Republicans do not support our nominee for governor, Dan Maes. At the same time, I have also received emails and phone calls from people who believe I can arbitrarily reverse the result of a primary election and find a new candidate for governor.

    First of all, the Colorado Republican Party and I, as state chairman, support Dan Maes for Governor. Period. Dan won our nomination fair and square. We are working directly with Dan and his campaign in our Victory voter identification and turnout operation.

    Second, neither the state chairman nor any committee within the Colorado Republican Party can arbitrarily remove a duly-elected nominee. And that’s the way it should be…

    …Finally, I have no regrets whatsoever how we conducted our nomination process. It was not my role or the state party’s to determine who could or would run or who would win. It was my responsibility to ensure a fair nomination process open to any candidate who wished to compete and to any Republican who wished to participate in it. And that is exactly what occurred in 2010. Every person who considered running and chose to do so or not to do so made their own decision, it was not made by me or the Colorado Republican Party.

    Just nine days after this letter was sent out to “Colorado Republican Leaders,” Wadhams took the unprecedented step of announcing that the Colorado Republican Party would NOT support Maes, its own nominee for Governor, thus completely crippling any chances Maes might have of winning in November.

    Just nine days after writing that Maes “won our nomination fair and square,” the Colorado Republican Party officially and formally slammed the door in the face of Maes.

    Just  nine days after writing that “It was not my role or the state party’s to determine who could or would run or who would win,” the Colorado Republican Party did, in fact, determine unilaterally that they would not support their candidate for Governor, a man whom Wadhams already said had won the nomination “fair and square.” Again, and this is worth repeating, we’re talking about a candidate who handily won top line at the Republican State Convention in May, and who won the August Primary with 196,560 very real votes. Maes did everything the Republican Party asked him to do in order to win their nomination, and he did it. And then they rejected him anyway.

    Look, Dan Maes is a terrible candidate with virtually no chance of winning in November. Anybody with even a cursory understanding of Colorado politics knows this, too. But that doesn’t mean that the Colorado Republican Party should be allowed to completely override the Primary election results. How can Republican voters ever again believe that their vote will ultimately mean anything after this? How can the Tea Party activists believe that the State Party will ever really embrace them after they have shown such callous disregard for Democracy?

    Maybe this fiasco will finally force State Republicans to fix their internal mess and straighten things out. Maybe this will show the Tea Party that it would be better to form their own political party than be at the mercy of the GOP elite. Or maybe this will stop any future unknown, upstart candidate from even thinking about trying to run without the blessing of the GOP “kingmakers” who make decisions that have nothing to do with election results.

    We can’t pretend to guess what will happen next, but for Colorado Republicans, conservatives and Tea Party supporters, nothing can ever be the same again.

    Pro-Buck Groups Get Ads Pulled in Missouri

    Interesting news today from Missouri, via the campaign for Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan:

    Missouri media outlets have pulled two misleading attack ads against Robin Carnahan being aired by Congressman Blunt’s corporate special interest allies.  This weekend, a Missouri network including 77 radio stations pulled a false attack ad being run by Americans for Job Security – a group with a long history of campaign related citations and violations. [Anchorage Daily News,  8/17/08;]

    In addition, Karl Rove’s special interest group, American Crossroads GPS, had their attack ad pulled down by CableNet while the FEC looks into allegations of illegal coordination between Congressman Blunt’s campaign and Rove’s group.

    Both Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads GPS have run ads in Colorado on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck, with Americans for Job Security (AJS) spending more than $2 million for Buck in the primary alone.

    We’ve long wondered about potential coordination issues with Buck’s campaign and these outside interest groups. The question first came to mind when Buck raised a curiously low $40,000 in the last fundraising quarter of 2009, because normally such a poor effort for a Senate candidate would all but end their campaign; the only way Buck could have remained credible was if his campaign (and high-level supporters) knew that there would be significant outside help available. Buck had raised $1.2 million for his campaign as of the July 21 reporting period, which was less than Republican Cory Gardner had raised in his CD-4 congressional campaign, and about half of what AJS spent just on TV ads on Buck’s behalf.

    The connection dug up in Missouri between Republican Rep. Roy Blunt and outside interest groups like AJS may very well end up being made with Buck as well, and if so, it will play a major role in deciding whether Buck can defeat Sen. Michael Bennet in November. If Buck doesn’t have these ads on the air in Colorado, he’s in trouble.

    Rasmussen Tightens Senate Race

    Last Wednesday’s Ipsos poll showing GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck up by nine points over Democrat Michael Bennet widened a lot of smiles on the right side of the aisle–Republican-friendly polling firm Rasmussen Reports sobers them up today.

    The U.S. Senate race in Colorado between incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Ken Buck remains very competitive.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Buck picking up 47% support, while Bennet earns the vote from 44%. Five percent (5%) prefer another candidate while four percent (4%) are undecided. Earlier this month, it was Buck 46% and Bennet 41%.

    Though Buck has consistently led the incumbent since March, this is the highest level of support Bennet has received all year. [Pols emphasis] In each of six previous surveys stretching back to May, the former Denver school superintendent had earned between 39% and 42% of the vote. Bennet was named to the Senate early last year when Ken Salazar resigned to join President Obama’s Cabinet. A county prosecutor, Buck has captured between 44% to 48% of the vote during that same time frame…

    We’ve always said that polling done more than four months out of an election is relatively worthless, but now that we’re nearing the 60 days until E-Day mark (Sept. 4, if you’re counting), respondents are starting to voice opinions based as much on the candidates as on their Party affiliation. Case in point, check out the changing Very Favorable/Very Unfavorable numbers from a few weeks ago:

    Candidate 8/12 VF/VUF 8/30 VF/VUF
    Ken Buck 17%/ 20% 19%/ 26%
    Michael Bennet 20%/ 29% 21%/ 30%

    What the Very Favorable/Unfavorable numbers show is that Buck’s overall lead is based largely on the generic Republican/anti-incumbent advantage that has shown up in polls throughout the year. But voters don’t actually like Ken Buck the candidate the more they get to know him (nor do they really like Michael Bennet, either). The bottom line is that this race is going to come down to the wire.

    Who’s Backing Maes?

    We’ve gotten a couple of emails on this subject, so we thought we’d put a list together and see if the Pols community could help us fill it out. Which top-ticket Republican candidates (all statewide and congressional seats) have endorsed GOP Gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, and who has yet to offer their public support?


  • U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck

  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (CD-5)

  • Rep. Mike Coffman (CD-6)

  • Treasurer candidate Walker Stapleton

  • Attorney General John Suthers

  • Secretary of State candidate Scott Gessler

  • CD-4 candidate Cory Gardner

  • CD-7 candidate Ryan Frazier
  • Help us out, Polsters! Maes’ website doesn’t seem to have an updated list of endorsements, so if you’ve seen one of the candidates in the second list make an endorsement, let us know.

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    Nice Job If You Can Get It

    Yesterday the campaign of Sen. Michael Bennet issued a press release detailing the fact that Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck had missed at least 133 days of work (or about one-third of the time he should have been working) as Weld County District Attorney in order to campaign for the Senate.

    Today, the Colorado Democratic Party issued a release calling on Republican CD-7 Ryan Frazier to pay back a chunk of his salary as an Aurora City Council Member since he has missed roughly 30% of his city council obligations in the last two years while campaigning, first for U.S. Senate, and now in CD-7.

    Frazier’s missed city council duties have previously been reported by the major Denver newspaper, and Buck’s absences were recently reported by the newspaper in Greeley. We can’t recall any prior candidate for a major office missing as much time in their prior elected positions Buck and Frazier. It’s a staggering amount of absences, really, and doesn’t do much to help them make the case that they’re the candidates to fix an inefficient Congress; it’s hard to be particularly efficient when you don’t even show up for work.

    This argument is particularly tough for Buck to repeat, when his opponent (Bennet) has a 100% voting record in the Senate…and his office is all the way across the country. In the month of July alone, Buck missed 25 days of work. 25!

    But say this for Buck and Frazier: At least they’ve made their current jobs more attractive for future candidates. Run for my job, and you’ll only have to show up one out of every three days!

    Full press releases after the jump.

    Colorado Democratic Party Release:

    DENVER- Ryan Frazier has missed multiple votes on crime and the city budget while he has been out campaigning for his next potential job in Congressional District 7. According to several reports, Frazier has missed approximately 30% of his city council obligations in the last two years.

    In response Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak released the following statement:

    “It’s appalling that Ryan Frazier thinks it’s no big deal to miss more than a quarter of work for his part-time job and think that he is still representing his district well. Missing the final vote of the city budget in such tough economic times says a lot about his priorities which he claims are the economy and balancing the budget.  Unemployed taxpayers are paying his salary- we think it’s only right for him to give back 30% of his city council pay for the votes he has missed.

    “Using the excuse that he has to work to provide for his family is misleading. We know he hasn’t had a job outside of Council since he decided to run for the Senate and then Congress. Although it’s expected for sitting officials campaigning to miss some work, to miss so much over almost two years of campaigning and still think its ok is a big deal. Bob Beauprez and Paul Tauer had it right, Frazier “ought to be fired, not promoted.”


    Aurora City Council Final Vote on Operating and Capital Improvement Budget for 2010, October 26, 2009

    Aurora City Council Final Vote on Establishing a Tax Levy for 2010, October 26, 2010

    Aurora City Council Final Vote on the Levy of Property Taxes, June 30, 2008

    Aurora City Council Vote Discouraging Drug Activity, April 23, 2007

    Press Release from Michael Bennet Campaign


    Buck Owes Taxpayers $60,038 for Missing Nearly One-Third of Word Days to Campaign

    DENVER, CO — Ken Buck is pretending to be fiscally responsible but as always he isn’t telling the whole truth.  Over the past 18 months, Buck has racked up a tab at the taxpayers expense of $60,038 for missing at least 113 days of work to campaign.  Will he pay back the taxpayers for failing to do his job?

    “Ken Buck skips out on work and then tries to cover his tracks, but as usual he isn’t being honest with Coloradans,” said Trevor Kincaid, Bennet for Colorado spokesman. “Ken Buck has been passing the bill for his campaign onto taxpayers while pretending to be concerned about our tax dollars.  Buck’s political games and problems finding the truth continue to pile up and paint a very disturbing picture of a man who will say one thing and do another.”

    In an interview with the Greeley Tribune, Buck said he misses from 15 to 45 hours of work every week to campaign.  Buck told the Tribune, “It’s a moral issue. If you’re going to take a day’s salary, you should do a day’s work.”  

    As always, Buck’s record paints a very different picture than what he would have voters believe.  Buck has missed at least 32.8 percent of work on weekdays and has spent at minimum 31.5 percent of his time on the campaign trail while collecting a full time salary and benefits.  A few examples of the amount of work Buck has missed over the past few months to campaign:

    March 2010 (22 days campaigning)

    April 2010 (18 days campaigning)

    June 2010 (19 days campaigning)

    July 2010 (25 days campaigning)

    During the primary, Jane Norton raised issue with the amount of time Buck was away from his duties as DA.  The concerns were echoed in a Greeley Tribune editorial, which questioned whether Buck’s actions were “morally or ethically right.”

    Ken Buck Actually More to the Right Than Dan Maes

    We’ve taken our share of jabs at Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes for his colorful positions on random issues like the nefarious plot of the U.N. to take over Denver through a bicycle sharing program. But while Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck hasn’t been nearly as entertaining as Maes (until recently, anyway), we wondered: Just how different are the two candidates at the top of the GOP ticket?

    The answer, frankly, surprised us. Based on some of the core issues highlighted by each campaign over the past year, you could very well make the argument that it is Buck — not Maes — who is the more extreme of the two candidates. Handy chart after the jump:

    Issue Agree/Disagree Dan Maes Ken Buck
    Personhood Amendment/Abortion AGREE Supports Personhood Amendment Supports Personhood Amendment and opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest
    Illegal Immigration AGREE Opposes amnesty, supports E-Verify as well as guest worker programs Opposes Amnesty and supports guest worker programs
    Energy AGREE Supports more oil drilling and nuclear energy Supports more oil drilling and nuclear energy
    Federal Health Care Legislation AGREE Opposes legislation passed by Congress in 2010 Wants to “repeal and replace” federal Health Care legislation
    Federal Stimulus AGREE Would refuse most federal stimulus money Opposes Federal Stimulus Package
    Taxes AGREE Signed pledge to oppose all tax increases Signed pledge to oppose all tax increases
    Social Security DISAGREE Has often said that Social Security saved his family Says Social Security is a “horrible policy” that will “bankrupt the nation”
    Federal Student Loans DISAGREE Supports federal funding for college education Says the government should not subsidize student loans
    Separation of Church and State DISAGREE Says that church and state should be kept separate Says separation of church and state is too strict already

    We’re not going to say that Buck is as loony as Maes. But it is striking to compare their opinions on high-profile issues and see Buck tacking even further right than Maes — much more to the right than we assumed before we started looking.

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    Club for Growth Loves…Buck’s Plan To…Oh, Nevermind

    MONDAY UPDATE: Don’t look now, folks, but the Club for Growth appears to have quietly made a certain bullet point vanish from Ken Buck’s endorsement over the weekend. The Buckpedaling continues! Round and round and round he goes! What does Buck really believe in? Nobody knows!

    With apologies to Al Gore, it looks like Buck’s support for eliminating the Department of Education has become an “inconvenient truth.” We don’t think, however, that this change on the Club for Growth’s endorsement page (original text after the jump) accomplishes much besides making it look even worse–the confusion gave inquisitive readers ample time to confirm what Buck has actually said, and it’s not ambiguous in the least. Original post follows, you meddling kids!

    There seems to be some confusion out there about the precise position of GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck with regard to the federal Department of Education. As most of you know, Buck’s primary opponent Jane Norton came out early and strongly for the wholesale abolition of the Department of Education–this turned into fairly negative press coverage for Norton, and in the days since Buck defeated Norton, Buck’s supporters have put great emphasis on his allegedly more nuanced view. Supposedly, Buck has gone on record in favor of ‘major cuts’ to the Department of Education, but as supporters strain to point out post-primary, not its elimination.

    Well, somebody should probably tell this to the stridently conservative Club for Growth, which lists abolishing the Department of Education as one of the, you know, reasons they’ve endorsed him.

    Where do you think they got that idea? This probably explains where the New York Times got it, anyway. Now, maybe it’s due for a correction, or maybe what we’re seeing here is a case of telling too many people too many contradictory things…depending on what they want to hear? We’re not privy to whatever interaction with the Club for Growth that led them to put this bullet point on their endorsement of Buck–we can only tell you what appears on their website as of this writing.

    In other news, we have a winner from our poll a few days ago. “Buck-pedaling.”

    New Hampshire Dems Use Buck as a Bad Example

    Well, that was fast.

    Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck wasn’t even a week removed from his Primary win over Jane Norton before he was being used as a bogeyman in another state. The New Hampshire Democratic Party has created a website that compares Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte with Buck, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

    This is sort of a good news/bad news thing for Buck: On one hand, he’s apparently well known enough that he is an effective foil all the way across the country.

    On the other hand…he’s apparently well known enough that he is an effective foil all the way across the country.

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    American Crossroads Running Anti-Bennet Ads

    As our friends at “The Fix” report, another outside group is running ads to help the candidacy of Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck:

    American Crossroads, the conservative outside organization that has pledged to raise upwards of $60 million for the midterm elections, is spending nearly $1 million on new television ads in the Colorado and Ohio Senate races…

    The Colorado ad, funded by Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) organization, hits appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) for a “spending spree” since coming to Congress early last year…

    …American Crossroads is spending $500,000 on the Ohio ad and Crossroads GPS is dropping another $425,000 on the Colorado commercial, which is running in the Denver and Colorado Springs media markets. Both ads will run for a week.

    While the group’s fundraising started slowly earlier in the year, the 527 wing reported raising $3.4 million in June alone — including $1.3 million from Public Storage Inc. Chairman B. Wayne Hughes.

    Democrats have long fretted about spending from conservative-aligned groups in the final few months of the election erasing their financial edge heading into the fall. That advantage is much more pronounced on the House side — where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a two-to-one cash edge over its Republican counterparts — but Senate Democrats also ended June with $2 million more in the bank than the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

    Buck recently hired a new campaign manager, John Swartout, who will take over the role previously held by Walt Klein, who will continue to serve as the General Consultant for the campaign. It’s a nice job if you can get it — Managing a campaign without really having to worry about fundraising.

    BREAKING: Republicans Meeting with Maes Today on Pulling Out

    SATURDAY AM UPDATE: As we suspected, Dan Maes is not proving agreeable to ‘suggestions’ that he exit the race–posted to his Facebook profile last night:

    To be clear, the story is about high-level Republicans wanting Maes to get out of the race, or failing that to select a running mate from their approved roster. The only part of the “rumor” he has control over is his response–and for the time being anyway, there you have it.

    UPDATE: In this video from a gubernatorial debate between Scott McInnis and Dan Maes at the end of last month, McInnis strongly defends Maes (and himself) from any attempt after the primary to force either of them from the race. McInnis calls attempts to force either of them out a “bait and switch,” and flatly states it would be “out of line” to go against the choice of primary voters.

    No doubt he still thinks so.

    Top Republican “emissaries” are meeting with Republican Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes today in an attempt to convince him to drop out of the race and let the GOP replace him with someone else.

    According to an anonymous Republican source, GOP Chair Dick Wadhams is not among those involved in the meeting in an effort to keep some official distance from the process. The message from Republicans is that there will be no outside money and no fundraising assistance for Maes if he stays in the race, but if he drops out there could be support for him for future opportunities.

    Republican leaders have been conspicuous in their public silence about Maes, and that silence was apparently part of the plan leading up to today’s meeting. Top Republicans wanted to let Maes have a few days to himself after the election, hoping that their lack of attention would show him that he doesn’t have the support he would need to win in November.

    From what we have heard over the last 24 hours, however, Maes is unlikely to agree to any terms that would see him remove himself from the race for Governor because he truly believes that he has earned the nomination. As part of a last-ditch effort, top Republicans may try to get Maes to agree to their choice for a running mate, in hopes that a stronger Lieutenant Governor could be in a position to take over the ballot at some point.

    It’s important to keep in mind that these discussions are not really about finding a candidate who can win the governor’s race in November. As we first reported in mid-July, Republicans recognize that their chances at beating Democrat John Hickenlooper are close to zero. What they want now is to find someone who can excite the GOP base and not be a drag on the ticket — both for Ken Buck’s U.S. Senate bid and for the downballot races. Maes can’t win, and neither can a potential replacement; but at least a potential replacement isn’t regularly being mocked both locally and nationally as a joke of a candidate. Maes’ much-discussed “U.N. Bicycle Plot” is bad enough when he’s just one of several candidates running in a Primary, but now it’s the Republican candidate for Governor saying these things. That’s a lot different.

    Whatever the decision, Republicans don’t have a lot of time to make it; the Secretary of State certifies the ballot on Sept. 3. A replacement candidate could still be programmed into the voting machines for early and Election Day voting, but the new name likely wouldn’t make it onto the early mail ballot if something wasn’t done before Sept. 3.

    Social Security: Republican Kryptonite?

    As our friends at “The Fix” note today:

    The back and forth on the [Social Security] issue in Nevada is a microcosm of what Democrats hope will be a broader debate in races around the country about what to do next on Social Security.

    To commemorate the 75th anniversary, which is tomorrow, of Social Security becoming law, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has released a scorecard documenting 13 Republican Senate candidates who have expressed support for some form of privatization of the retirement system…

    …Social Security is always a potent political issue but especially so in midterm elections where older voters — to whom this issue is of critical importance — comprise a larger segment of the overall electorate. (Older voters always vote.)

    President George W. Bush’s failure to pass a reform of the system played a role — how much of one can be debated — in the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate in 2006 and Democrats are hoping it will mitigate their expected losses in this midterm.

    We have long included Social Security as an issue that would come back to bite Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck, and it looks like Democrats are planning on playing that angle as much as possible.

    While it may have made sense for Buck to go after Social Security while trying to woo Tea Party support for a Republican Primary, it’s not helpful to have statements like these on the record in a General Election:

    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.”

    The ads write themselves: Vote for Ken Buck, and kiss Social Security goodbye! Anti-government conservatives may think this is great, but swing-voting senior citizens who rely on Social Security for their retirement? Not so much.

    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

    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.

    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)