January 02, 2009

Senator Who? Gov. Ritter Appoints DPS Superintendent Michael Bennet To Replace Salazar

"Bennet for Senate."

Has a nice ring to it.

Wait a minute.

As I heard again and again today--who!?!?!?

RMR posits a variety of plausible theories on the nature of the Bennet appointment by Gov. "Blue Ribbon" Bill Ritter. The reaction from both sides is complete bafflement--both GOP State Chair Dick Wadhams and the folks at ColoradoPols are in the WTF? boat. Other reactions include everything from Bennet as "dark horse superstar" to the harbinger of a new age of political aristocracy in America.

The only constant: that the appointment is risky, especially given the failure rate of appointees to be elected on their own in subsequent elections.

Todd Shepherd of CompleteColorado.com argues that the appointment of Bennet could not have transpired without the blessing of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, widely perceived in recent days to be emerging as the frontrunner among a trio of well-qualified and well-positioned Democrats that included Hickenlooper, former State Rep. and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and Rep. Ed Perlmutter-CD7.

Whether or not that is the case, following Ritter's official announcement and confirmation of his appointment, Bennet will face the formidable task of raising his own personal ID and building the apparatus for the statewide election in 2010, or providing a capable caretaking role should this be an unlikely placeholding appointment.

Either way, the state GOP can only be licking their chops at the opportunity provided by the Bennet appointment. Not only will the seat Bennet occupies be a top target simply because of the appointment itself, a mediocre performance by Bennet not only puts the seat more clearly into toss-up territory, but disheartens the Dem base (see the aristocracy and WTF? argument linked earlier) and calls into question Ritter's own executive judgement. By appointing Bennet and not a more qualified/quantifiable Democrat from the deep bench on the left, Ritter has drawn an even bigger target on his own reelection and the Dems in general in the locally focused 2010 elections.

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