Colorado senate race gets interesting

Colorado senate race gets interesting

Incumbent Mark Udall may not be a shoe-in for reelection after all.

The pundits are busy handicapping Republicans’ changes of retaking the U.S. Senate this fall and in none of those calculations does Colorado Sen. Mark Udall’s name come up. According to the conventional wisdom, incumbent Udall is a sure bet for reelection in blue Colorado. But that was before 2013 and the disaster that is Obamacare.

In April 2013, Public Policy Polling found that “John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall are both pretty popular and Colorado Republicans have a very weak bench, so PPP's newest poll of the state finds both Democrats in pretty good shape for reelection next year.” By December 6, PPP's new Colorado poll found voters “closely divided in their feelings about both Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall…”

What happened?

“You'll be able to keep your doctor or your plan.” Parroting Barack Obama, Mark Udall said that. And when the Colorado Division of Insurance reported that 250,000 Coloradans were losing their plans, Udall’s office pressured the division to revise the numbers.

Udall is doubtless hoping that Coloradans will forget his rock-solid support for every policy put forward by Barack Obama, Harry Reid and the Democratic left. If Laura Carno, founder of I am Created Equal has her way, however, they won’t.

Carno has formed a website called “to expose Senator Udall’s lies and leadership failures.” In addition to the website, she is running radio and TV spots.

It’s not just about Obamacare. Udall has positioned himself in support of other leftist causes as well. He supports solar energy—and in Colorado, as elsewhere, the result has been massive subsidies to cronies and spectacular failures, like Abound Solar. They’re still trying to get rid of the toxic waste from that one. He once proudly informed Coloradans that he was going to filibuster on the floor of the Senate for wind energy.

When it came time to vote to abolish the filibuster so that Democrats could get their radical judicial appointees approved, he voted with Harry Reid.

From a political family and cousin of New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, Mark Udall won his senate seat on the coattails of Barack Obama in 2008, facing a lackluster campaign by former Congressman Bob Schaeffer. To be fair to Schaeffer, probably no one could have overcome the “Colorado Model” Democrats used to take over the state.

But that was then. In 2013, Democrats used their legislative majorities to enact the most radical change to the state ever. Gun control aroused strong grassroots opposition and Democrats almost lost the state senate. Those new-found activists haven’t gone away and Republican challengers to Udall have emerged.

The first is Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who ran against Bennett in 2010. He was savaged in a bitter Republican primary by former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton. Buck was supported by grassroots activists; Norton by establishment Republicans both in state and in Washington, D.C. The Bennett campaign was handed a ready-made attack plan which in some ways became the model for the Democrat “War against Women.” Buck narrowly lost and is eager for a rematch, this time against Udall.

Playing the role of Jane Norton this year is State Representative Amy Stephens. Managed by the same people who managed Norton, Stephens seems poised to run a similar campaign. Like Norton, she will seek to gain access to the primary ballot via petition rather than the convention process. Colorado has a unique system whereby candidates need to gain a certain percentage of delegate votes to be placed on a primary ballot—but they can also bypass the delegates completely via petition.

It is a measure of the strength of grassroots activists with whom she is not popular that she would use the petition process. When she was Majority Leader, she supported Democratic legislation to close down coal-fired power plants and to build a state exchange in support of the Obamacare law. The Colorado exchange isn’t doing any better than the federal exchange.

Stephens isn’t the only one seeking to bypass the convention. Newcomer State Sen. Owen Hill is also going to do that after only one year as a legislator. In that year he managed to alienate his grassroots base by voting for tuition for illegal aliens. His overall Principles of Liberty rating is only a “C.” Hill is receiving some petition support from people involved in the Hudak recall campaign.

Public Policy Polling rates none of these three candidates’ chances very high against Udall. To be sure, Udall is a more formidable opponent than Bennett, but no one predicted that activists would oust three state senators and almost flip the senate.