The front runner
Joan Fitz-Gerald has a long resume in Colorado politics and Democratic party activism. She is known in the district, with a solid record of accomplishment that has gathered her many supporters.
Her name recognition and record have gathered her numerous high-powered endorsements, from many labor unions to EMILY’s List to Wellington Webb to Dottie Lamm. The Colorado Veterans for America announced last week that they were endorsing Fitz-Gerald.
The CD-2 Democratic race may be the most expensive primary ever contested in the U.S. For an introduction to this four-part series, click here.
That record also gives her opponent a wide target to shoot at. Anyone who has made as many political friends as Fitz-Gerald has also made some enemies. But Fitz-Gerald has been known to say that she’s proud of her enemies.Fitz-Gerald’s long record of service has gathered her lots of endorsements, and gives her the basis for nuanced positions on many issues. But it also puts her alone among the candidates with a detailed record for her opponents to shoot at. You can expect to see attacks on it, especially from Jared Polis, who will have to reduce the gap between them by undertaking an aggressive campaign. The first shot across the bow in the strategy was fired in this attack strategy was visible earlier this month when he issued a release calling for Fitz-Gerald to apologize for voting for a resolution “honoring President Bush’s leadership” in Iraq.
Fitz-Gerald says she has long opposed the war. On September 12, she issued a release that called for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Fitz-Gerald’s greatest strength is probably her long record of personal attention to the voters in the district. While I was working on this story, I spoke to a lot of district voters to see what level of interest they had this early in the campaign. Most people I spoke to knew Fitz-Gerald was running. I only talked to one man who could name all three candidates without prompting. He said that when Fitz-Gerald was running for the Senate a few years ago, he had a question for her and her opponent. When he called Fitz-Gerald’s number, she answered the phone herself and spoke to him at length about the issue he was interested in. He never reached her opponent at all. It’s not hard to guess who he’s going to vote for.
Fitz-Gerald is a traditional party Democrat. She’s going to spend the time between now and February shoring up her party support. This means she’ll take the complex caucus route to getting on the ballot, which means getting 30 percent of votes of the congressional district assembly. This is time-consuming, but it will assure her of a smoothly functioning campaign machine going toward the August primary.
Tomorrow: Jared Polis