January 15, 2007

Colorado's Open Senate Seat--Allard Retires

A true man of his word, Sen. Wayne Allard honored his self-imposed two-term pledge. Unlike senate lifers, blowhards (they enjoy the sound of their own voices), and presidential aspirants, Allard carved out a quiet record as a citizen-legislator, unfazed by the glitz and power-politics of DC. The Rocky Mountain News offered this generous recap of Allard's legislative career:
Sen. Wayne Allard said today he will honor his term-limits pledge and leave at the end of 2008, creating a replacement fight that should turn Colorado into one of the country’s biggest electoral battlegrounds.

"I just didn't think I could back away from the (term limits) commitment. It is a matter of integrity and keeping your commitments. I have never wavered on that," Allard told the Rocky Mountain News.

Appearing with his wife, Joan, at a press conference at the state Capitol, Allard said, "The people of Colorado placed their trust in me based on a promise I made to them and I am honoring that promise. In an age when promises are cast away as quickly as yesterday’s newspaper, I believe a promise made should be a promise kept."
. . .
Allard has been more folksy than flashy during his 24 years in elective office, starting with eight years in the state Senate, six years in the U.S. House of Representatives and so far 10 years in the U.S. Senate.

"Senator Allard’s great political strength was that Coloradans could look at him and say, ‘He is like me. He works hard every day.’
And I think there’s a commonality between Coloradans and Sen. Allard that we haven’t seen many times in elected officials," said Republican consultant Dick Wadhams, who managed Allard’s Senate campaigns in 1996 and 2002.

Allard has been a champion of fiscal discipline and traditional social values. That included two unsuccessful bids to pass a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In recent years, Allard often cast predictable, party-line votes with fellow Republicans, and he was known as one of the more reliable allies of President Bush’s White House.

Allies liked to say Allard has been a "work horse" rather than a "show horse" in Congress. Still, Time magazine in 2005 dubbed him "The Invisible Man" and one of the five "worst" U.S. Senators.

Longtime Allard chief of staff Sean Conway dismissed the ranking as "laughable," citing the senator’s accomplishments, including cutting years off the schedule for cleaning the former nuclear weapons plant at Rocky Flats; defending the state’s military installations from base closings and spearheading the investigation into sexual assaults at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Allard was the only one from the nine-member state delegation to sit on an Appropriations Committee, a strategic place for securing federal funds for the state. First-term Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Denver, already has expressed an interest in an appropriations seat, although the positions are hard to come by.

But Allard might be remembered just as much for his down-home appeal and affable manner than his legislative record.
Allard played up his roots as a veterinarian and small businessman. He bragged about being a member of the two-person Senate Veterinarian Caucus, and he sometimes examined colleagues dogs in his Senate office.
CBS4 has video of Allard's retirement speech.

Reactions to Allard's retirement--
NRSC chairman John Ensign:
“Senator Allard has served his constituents honorably over the past 15 years and has continually shown his commitment to the people of Colorado by bringing improved services and commonsense solutions to the country. He has been one of the Senate’s most dedicated legislators and will be remembered as such. I respect his decision to honor the promise he made to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate and I know that he will continue to serve the people of Colorado long after his retirement.”

“Republicans will retain the seat currently held by Sen. Allard and the NRSC will do everything in its power to ensure the principles of fiscal responsibility and limited effective government returns to the people of Colorado in November 2008. The voters of Colorado supported Pres. Bush over Al Gore in 2000 and again over Senator John Kerry in 2004 and Republican statewide registration is 36% compared to 30% for Democrats - ensuring Republicans a strong advantage in 2008. Retention of this seat is now a top priority for the NRSC.”
Senate Republicans are weeping today.
. . .
Colorado was already the Democrats' top pickup opportunity, with Allard winning his two terms with razor-thin margins and a Blue wave sweeping the Rocky Mountain state.
. . .
This will be a Democratic pickup in 2008.
The Club For Growth notes his conservative record:
Allard, who was re-elected with Club member support in 2002, will be leaving a big hole for fiscal conservatives in the Senate, having compiled a great voting record over the last 10 years. He received a 98% on the Club's 2005 scorecard, while getting eight "A's" and only one "B" on NTU's scorecard.
Cross posted at Political Avalanche


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