Colorado Democratic chairwoman Pat Waak says she would prefer not to have a primary in the U.S. Senate race where state executive committee member Mark Benner has said he “intends” to challenge Rep. Mark Udall for the party’s nomination.“If we know who our candidate is sooner, we can raise more money,” Waak said in an interview this week.
With that in mind, Waak said she spent time last Saturday talking to Benner about other ways to provoke a discussion of issues without trying to get on a primary ballot.
“For years, I would have said primaries are great for a discussion of the issues,” Waak said. “But when I watched what happened with Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm in the 7th Congressional District and the amount of money that took, we’re much better off without primaries in 2008.”
The Perlmutter-Lamm Congressional primary in 2006 was not only expensive; it was acrimonious with both candidates using negative attack ads to disparage the other.
Benner probably wouldn’t have the money to do that to Udall. But Waak fears his attempt to get on the primary ballot might divide her party before a general election in a critical race to maintain and extend Democratic control of the Senate.
Benner believes Democrats should embrace a single-payer health care system where tax withholding replaces health insurance premiums and a quasi-governmental agency collects the money to pay for health care. The money is then distributed to private doctors of the patient’s choice.
Udall has not endorsed such a system, which would cover every American.
Benner also wants impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain an option, a position Udall refuses to take.
Benner also has concerns about Congress’ lack of action on the American military’s use of torture and withdrawal from Iraq.
Benner still hasn’t filed formally as a candidate. But said he intends to, though he knows he can’t beat Udall in a primary and may not even get the 30 percent of delegate votes needed to get on a primary ballot when the Democrats meet in a May assembly to choose candidates.
Still, the specter of a person trying to divide the party and drive Udall to the left wing in a primary gives Waak concern. Republicans are already trying to brand Udall a “Boulder liberal.”
“I think Mark Benner understands he has a protest campaign,” Waak said. “We talked about other ways to protest.”