Wadhams lowers expectations

Colorado Republican Chairman Dick Wadhams has pre-emptively conceded both houses of the state Legislature to the Democrats in what looks like an effort to drastically lower expectations for Election Day Tuesday. Leading off a Thursday interview with Channel 4, Wadhams said of his party’s chances this year: “We’ve recruited some great candidates … and I’m very optimistic about our chances. I don’t believe we will win either house.” Instead he said the goal has always been to “win control in 2010.”

It’s the same line he’s used before — about how 2010 is really the year the GOP bounces back in Colorado. Yet Wadhams has also recently came under fire for trying to run two critically important posts this cycle at the same time, serving as both chairman of the state party and U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer’s campaign manager. “Dick can carry a heavy backpack, but you can’t put two heavy backpacks on him,” said former Republican U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis in a Denver Post story that was following up on a Colorado Independent exclusive in which McInnis claimed he could have beaten Democrat Mark Udall and also predicted a GOP bloodbath come Tuesday.

Wadhams has a history of taking on two jobs at once — maybe even three. Back when he became state GOP chair, Wadhams also took the unusual step of assuming the duties of executive director as well. He relinquished those duties in March when he officially took over Schaffer’s campaign, but many believe he had been pulling the strings at Schaffer HQ for months before.

Wadhams also said in his Channel 4 interview, “There’s a national headwind out there; there’s no doubt about it, and we’re running into a headwind, but we’re going to do well.” This falls into the “blame early” category.

Perhaps if he had spent more of his time focused on state legislative races as chairman instead of the higher-profile Senate race, Wadhams wouldn’t have to lower expectations or place blame. After all, this is the guy who several years ago took down former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (who, incidentally, will make a campaign swing through Colorado on Sunday).

It remains to be seen whether GOP leadership will blame the headwind or an overstretched Wadhams for what the polls say will be a very unhappy Election Day for Colorado Republicans.

Colorado Independent’s blogumnist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governors races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., with a focus on military and small-business issues.

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