January 17, 2007

On Colorado's Senate Seat--Quashing John Elway Rumors, Tom Tancredo's Presidential Aspirations, And Other Musings

According to a spokeswoman, John Elway has no intention of running for the open seat held by Sen. Wayne Allard, but some are talking about a shot at the governor's mansion in 2010 against incumbent Bill Ritter. These rumors are fueled by the perception of Elway's "god-like" status in the state. Elway earned that reputation on the football field, and though some Colorado GOPers yearn for a shoo-in, he is unlikely to jump in and soil his image.
--Update: John Elway says he will not run for Senate, speaking to Denver's 850 KOA. He has not ruled out a run in the future, however.

Tom Tancredo has set his sights on the highest office in the land, and has backed former Rep. Scott McInnis. The attacks on Tancredo's presidential run have already commenced.

Speaking of McInnis, the left has already begun the mudslinging by trying to attach the "lawyer-lobbyist" moniker to him (and "McLobbyist") due to his employment at Hogan and Hartson, where failed 1996 and 2002 Senate candidate Tom Strickland now manages. Others also note the rap on McInnis who bypassed a potential 2004 run because of the fancy financial offer of the noted firm.

First backed by former Governor Bill Owens in 2004's Senate race before he switched his support to Pete Coors, former Rep. Bob Schaffer still garners much conservative backing. Though he has not commented publicly on a run, lingering sentiments that he was (wrongly) passed over in favor of the beer magnate (and subsequently defeated acrimoniously in the primary) could energize a more successful run this time around.

Other Republicans--former Gov. Bill Owens, Attorney General John Suthers, Secretary of State Mike Coffman, former Rep. Bob Beauprez, and radio talk-show host Dan Caplis have also been mentioned as potential runners. Each one has his own drawbacks, including lack of personal interest and desire to make money (Owens), recent landslide electoral defeat (Beauprez), or at this point name recognition and fundraising ability (Caplis). Both Suthers and Coffman have been recently elected to state-wide office and could run, but should Schaffer and McInnis choose to duke it out, fundraising and support for these second-tier candidates will likely disappear quickly.

First take on the Democratic field--
Rep. Mark Udall has vowed to run in 2008 whether or not Allard ran for reelection or retired, and with a large warchest would be the Democrat's front-runner. As a member of a noted political dynasty Udall will certainly garner a good deal of national attention, and would get a boost from the 2008 Democratic National Convention held here in Denver.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper--having endured a rough recent stretch with election woes and weather-related issues--will not run if Udall does.

Final Initial Analysis--
The Democrats hold an advantage in that their front-runner is unlikely to face primary opposition. This gave Gov. Bill Ritter a large advantage in 2006, as the Republican primary saddled eventual candidate Bob Beauprez with the inescapable "Both-Ways-Bob" moniker. Udall, however, does not have the same middle-of-the-road credibility that Sen. Ken Salazar and Ritter were able to use in pitching themselves to Colorado's middle--the unaffiliated independents and swing voters. Republicans will trot out his liberal voting record; Udall narrowly defeated Bob Greenlee in 1998 for the seat (less than 6,000 votes) opened by the departure of incumbent David Skaggs. Though DailyKos has Udall wrapping up this seat, but it remains to be seen how a true liberal plays state-wide.

Republicans could face an uphill battle if there is a primary characterized by the acrimony that plagued the Schaffer-Coors Senate primary in 2004 and Beauprez-Holtzman this past year. Schaffer and McInnis both have voting records to be scrutinized, though at this point Schaffer could be accurately deemed the more "conservative" of the two. Like Udall, none of these potential candidates have faced state-wide scrutiny.

For both parties the key will be fundraising; before Allard announced he would retire the seat had already garnered a reputation as the most competitive Senate seat in 2008. Estimates of $5-10 million necessary for each candidate will likely reach the higher end now that the incumbent is out. This will prove to be the most expensive Senate race in Colorado history, as the Republicans battle to retain Allard's seat with Democrats absolutely ravenous at the thought of yet another Senate pick-up.

Cross posted at Political Avalanche.



Blogger Hyunchback said...

I see Tancredo's presence in the early search for a candidate as a two-edged sword.

I don't believe he can win when both MSM and the RINO funding for the RNC is against him.

I do believe he can raise the issue of illegal aliens in the race but raising this early means that it will be a dead issue by the time the actual primaries are being run. Dead or worse, pulled toward the Amnesty side.

Wed Jan 17, 08:26:00 AM  

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