O’Donnell an Outsider?

Both CD-7 hopefuls are trying to position themselves as candidates for change in Washington, but Republican Rick O’Donnell will likely find that image harder to build, says a Denver Post report today. During a series of debates last week, Democrat Ed Perlmutter repeated his charge of a “rubber-stamp Congress.” O’Donnell says he agrees a change is needed and claims he’s different than most Republicans in Congress. He often talks about his disagreement with GOP pork-barrel projects and his support for a “new plan” in Iraq. While O’Donnell might be trying to show his willingness to go against the party grain, convincing voters he’s a different kind of Republican could be an arduous task. In the Post article, political analyst Eric Sondermann weighed in:

Sondermann said O’Donnell has the tougher challenge in the race to fill the congressional seat held by Republican Bob Beauprez, who is running for governor.

‘I understand O’Donnell’s strategy, and it’s probably credible, but that’s a tough row to hoe for any Republican when his party runs the joint,’ Sondermann said.

Republicans control the White House and both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, Sondermann pointed out. And President Bush is logging low approval ratings in national polls.

‘Probably over the course of the next 20 years, O’Donnell would be more of a change agent simply by the force of his personality and his ideology,’ Sondermann said. ‘But it’s a hard message to sell in this environment for any Republican.’

Proving he’s different than Washington Republicans is even tougher for O’Donnell considering the high-profile members who’ve stumped for him. In July, President Bush appeared at a fundraiser, netting $600,000 for O’Donnell’s campaign. And, in August, Speaker Dennis Hastert came to Colorado on his behalf.