Fix blogger thinks — no, seriously — Beauprez most likely to take on Bennet

The question must be asked: Is Chris Cillizza high? At the very least, the prominent Washington Post political blogger, whose The Fix column is a must-read inside the Beltway, is cruising along at such an altitude as to call into question whether he knows what’s going on down here in fly-over country.

In Cillizza’s Friday Senate Line, he accurately frames next year’s Colorado Senate race, where appointed neophyte Michael Bennet is a virtual unknown who can’t dodge major issues, like the Employee Free Choice Act, forever. But there’s no sign of a credible Republican challenger, able to raise the big bucks and storm a state that’s been trending increasingly Blue. But Cillizza so clumsily blurs the details, we wonder whether whoever has been feeding him his Colorado scoop has been on vacation.

Here’s The Fix’s entire entry on the Colorado Senate contest, which holds as the sixth-most likely seat to switch parties in the 2010 election, safer for the incumbent than Pennsylvania and a bit riskier than Ohio:

6. Colorado (D): This race is frozen in time — Republicans bash appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) for not taking a position on the Employee Free Choice Act even as they struggle to find a serious candidate to oppose him. The pieces are all in place for a competitive race in Colorado — Bennet is virtually unknown statewide and will have to (eventually) take stands on issues like EFCA that will provide fodder for a Republican opponent. But, no such Republican opponent has emerged. The two most likely candidates? Former Rep. Bob Beauprez and/or Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier. (Previous ranking: 6)

In some circle, EFCA still gets the blood racing, but a divisive issue to take down a senator in Colorado? Not so much. As Cillizza almost concludes, it’s Bennet’s refusal to take a stand that causes more potential problems, leaving some Democrats lukewarm and Republicans sensing weakness. Still, early discontent with Bennet among likely supporters seems to have subsided, while his Obama-centrist approach might be tamping down some potential fervor among opponents.

But The Fix’s real whopper? Maybe former members of Congress automatically qualify as strong potential candidates in the World According to The Washington Post, but Bob Beauprez hasn’t been a serious contender to take on Bennet for months, if ever.

Still nursing wounds from the bludgeoning he suffered at the hands of Gov. Bill Ritter in what could possibly qualify as the worst campaign in recent Colorado history, Beauprez emerged earlier this year from what is, by all accounts, an exceedingly enjoyable retirement in northwest Colorado to float his name for a gubernatorial rematch.

When that proposition failed to catch fire — or, more accurately, caught a few belly laughs — Beauprez let it be known earlier this spring he might consider a run for the Senate. That trial balloon failed to even inflate, though Beauprez did perhaps score more appearance touting his book than he would have if he hadn’t been a potential candidate.

As savvy local political observer Eric Sondermann told The Colorado Independent a couple months ago, “There’s anything but a Draft Beauprez movement going on.” Beauprez’ abysmal showings in recent Republican straw polls — scoring below the margin of error if he appeared in the results at all — only confirms this.

Of course, anything can happen in politics, but even radio yacker Dan Caplis is a better pick for inclusion in Cillizza’s ranking of the “two most likely candidates” who might face Bennet. Eleven months before the state GOP convention, Aurora Councilman Ryan Frazier and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck are the others.

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