Littwin: Bennet must be grinning after the GOP Senate debate

If you watched the Republican Senate debate the other night, you can probably guess what I’m about to say. It wasn’t that anyone, even Peg Littleton, said anything particularly outrageous — certainly not by presidential-debate standards.

It was that no one, in the eight-person field, made much of an impression at all.

Over long months, the state’s leading Republicans couldn’t find a candidate to get behind. And now that there are as many as 13 in the field, they still can’t find a front-runner.

The debate happened this week. The convention is here this weekend. And somewhere Michael Bennet — routinely described as the only vulnerable Democratic incumbent running in 2016 — is smiling. He’s so happy that he felt he could afford to make his first political ad of the season about brewing beer, as if he were trying to morph into his friend John Hickenlooper.

I mean, it seems like only yesterday – or 2014, anyway – that Cory Gardner not only broke the 10-year, top-of-the-ticket GOP losing streak in Colorado, but was generally hailed across the political spectrum as the model for how Republicans can win in swing states.

The model was stunningly simple. As a conservative, you pretend to be just moderate enough. And to be convincing, you simply refuse to answer any direct question with a correspondingly direct answer.

It worked for Gardner in beating incumbent Mark Udall. Lots of people fell for it, including certain editorial boards. But as I may have pointed out at the time, the only problem with the model was that you need to be a Cory Gardner to pull it off.

And the one clear takeaway from the GOP debate was that were no Gardners on the crowded 9News stage. I’m not even sure if there were any Ken Bucks there. You’ll remember that Gardner basically cleared the field. This year, you couldn’t clear it with a plow.

The biggest moment in the debate came at the very beginning when candidates were asked to raise their hands if they planned to support Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner. Imagine. That was the newsmaker. Everyone raised a hand, and then each candidate, one after the other after the other and so on, got to explain why they were supporting Trump. It went downhill from there.

Don’t blame the 9News moderators, who did their job. Blame the unwieldy field. And blame the fact no one seemed able to execute a game plan except maybe Jon Keyser (who repeatedly cited his war record), Jack Graham, who made the case that ex-Democrats historically turn into Republican senators in Colorado (but maybe not if they’re pro-choice), and Robert Blaha, who tried to beat everyone to the punch as the true outsider in the race.

So, it was maybe even worse than we thought. But, I guess, we already knew that, didn’t we? The news all political season in Colorado has been the Republicans’ inability to recruit anyone of stature to run against Bennet. None of the obvious suspects – you know the list – were willing to take the gamble of running against Bennet in a presidential season. And the less obvious suspects were, it seems, un-obvious for a reason.

You don’t have to trust me on this. In his ratings, political guru Larry Sabato just changed the Colorado Senate race, which figured to be a toss-up, from “leans Democratic” to “likely Democratic.”

Meanwhile, Josh Penry had this to say, via Real Clear Politics, about the Republican field: “It’s fair to say all of them are untested for anything of this magnitude. We’ll have a lot to learn about who’s ready for prime time.”

As the Donald would say: sad. Not that he’s saying it in Colorado, where he was scheduled to come to the convention for a little presidential politicking. Trump backed out once it looked as if Ted Cruz had swept up most of the available delegates, leaving the Donald as the empty-pocketed billionaire. There’s a trend here, a trend that suddenly, and remarkably, makes Cruz the latest conventional-wisdom favorite to win the nomination if there’s a contested convention. Trump’s campaign is leaking delegates, but that’s another story.

In our story, the Colorado Republican convention will nominate a Senate candidate or two. You need at least 30 percent of delegate votes to make the ballot. Tim Neville — who spends his days in the state Senate fighting losing battles in the culture wars and who just finished running the latest failed personhood bill to prove, if nothing else, that he is the anti-Cory — is considered a lock to get the 30 percent. I have no idea who else might make it in a huge field. Maybe if one of them uses this column for target practice, it might help.

Four candidates have gone the petition route — self-funding businessman Robert Blaha, who is best know for his campaign ad featuring an all-too-graphic rectal exam and (this also hurt) for spending a million bucks to lose a primary challenge to Doug Lamborn; Jon Keyser, the desperation/establishment choice, who spent all of one year in the state House before resigning and who is running in a year when establishment choices are basically unwelcome; Ryan Frazier, whom we have met before; and Jack Graham, who used to be a Democrat and a quarterback, not to mention the Colorado State athletic director.

To petition successfully requires 1,500 signatures from each congressional district. It’s a tricky business and not exactly a sure thing. But let’s say Republicans put somewhere between four and six candidates on the ballot.

If you watched the debate, you’ll have seen the problem. The list of candidates is much too large. And, at the same time, much too small.

Photo credit: 9News


  1. No more republicans in our State House…We must rid us of their stench…everyone from the ALEC puppets in the Senate, to the insane Dr. Chaps and his ilk in the House…no more republicans…this party has left the building…they don’t have any thoughts to helping anyone but themselves…and the Koch brothers…

  2. If you want to see what the republican party wants for Colorado, just look to the east a bit and see what they have been doing to Kansas. Yeah, they’ve dropped taxes, alright. And they have put their state a billion dollars in the hole. Meanwhile, they are still waiting for that republican miracle to pay off in the jobs they PROMISED would be flooding the state. Look next door in Missouri, which didn’t lower their taxes, and notice that they have 5 TIMES the job growth Kansas has.

    Fact is, when republicans are runnign things THEY get quite wealthy. Everyone else, though, suffers and pays for the republicans to do well. it’s just NOT an equitable trade, folks, and it’s time you woke up to the reality. Lok at the actual numbers, not what some politician tells you is true. When republicans are in office, things don’t work out so well for the majority. At least not since Eisenhower, and he put a 94% top tax rate into effect.

    Today’s republicans are either very trusting of their own philosophy or they KNOW it screws the majority and LIKE it that way. So it’s either stupid or crooked. Either one is a BAD thing to have in government.

    Time for the republicans to be relegated to back seat status where they belong. Let the ADULTS drive for a while. And a change.

  3. As Mr. Littwin embarks on another round of political predictions based largely on his, um, political insight acquired by listening to “countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow” it’s instructive to gain an historical perspective by looking back on his analysis of the issues he felt would determine the winner of the 2014 Colorado Senate race between now Senator Cory Gardner and now former Senator Mark Udall.

    It isn’t pretty but here is just a sampling:

    – Women already vote in large numbers for Democrats. If contraception coverage becomes an issue, that number should only grow. It’s certainly the way that Democrats will bet

    – In the year of women’s issues, the Democrats had already brought in their Big 3 — Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama — to energize the voters. But Bill comes in as the closer. And he’s still got wicked stuff.

    – There are issues and then there are issues. The Republican stand on abortion and, from some, on birth control is a big part of the Republican problem with women.

    – And there is another big issue, but it works the other way: the government shutdown. Gardner not only voted for the shutdown, he also voted, just recently, against raising the debt ceiling, risking default. Then there are the rest of the issues. Gardner is on the wrong side of the poll numbers on immigration reform (Bennet beat Buck 81-19 on the Latino vote), on “forcible rape” (remember this vote, because it will become a major issue), on personhood, on abortion, on minimum wage, on cutting $40 billion in food stamps, on gay rights, on his vote for the Ryan budget and its impact on Medicare.

    – So, might Colorado turn away from Democrats? The answer is easy enough: It would be possible if — and this is one gigantic if — there were something else to turn toward.

    – Can (Cory Gardner) the 10th most conservative House member — a number that most Tea Partiers would give up their Ted Cruz decoder ring to claim — really be elected statewide in a Colorado that has been trending blue for a decade?

    There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the dirty half-dozen. Six of Mr. Littwin’s best wild guesses at the issues he felt would resonate with Colorado voters in 2014 and lead to the defeat of now Senator Gardner. Not a single one made a difference. Not one.

    Mr. Littwin will, of course, make no attempt to rationalize these disastrous predictions he’ll simply ignore them and as we all know those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. There is no evidence to suggest Mr. Littwin will be any more successful in making predictions this year.

    To prove that point, nowhere in this column—supposedly aimed at identifying potential GOP Senate candidates– does Mr. Littwin mention Darryl Glenn who, according to the Colorado Independent, on Saturday won 70 percent of the votes from delegates to the state convention in Colorado Springs.

    You can’t make this stuff up

    The over/under on the number of predictions he’ll get right is one. I’m betting under.

    He’ll also ignore former President Bill Clinton’s remarks to members of Black Lives Matter. We all know how Mr. Littwin feels about the former president and for those who don’t here’s what Mr. Littwin said of the Big Dog less than 18 months ago:

    “Bill Clinton may have his flaws — some pretty significant ones at that — but you can’t deny the Big Dog his genius. And he has a particular genius for cutting to the chase.”

    Well, that “genius for cutting to the chase” was on display last Thursday in Philadelphia when according to the Weekly Standard he told protesters from Black Lives Matters who were interrupting his speech because of his passage of criminal justice reform:

    “you are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth.”

    But President Clinton didn’t stop there. This from

    “Because of that bill, we had a 25-year low in crime, a 33-year low in the murder rate, and listen to this, because of that and the background check law, a 46-year low in the deaths of people of gun violence. And how do you think those lives were, that mattered? Whose lives were saved, that mattered?”

    Clinton tried to address the protesters, but they continued to yell over his answer. “Here’s the thing, I like protesters. But the ones who won’t let you answer are afraid of the truth,” he told the crowd to applause.

    The former president noted that Hillary had nothing to do with his reforms, but defended them anyways. “Because of that bill, we had a 25-year low in crime, a 33-year low in the murder rate, and listen to this, because of that and the background check law, a 46-year low in the deaths of people of gun violence. And how do you think those lives were, that mattered? Whose lives were saved, that mattered?”

    Those remarks were characterized as racist in an article published by Mr. Littwin’s employer the Colorado Independent and written by Alex Corey a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder. You could look it up.

    Who’da thunk it, the Big Dog a racist! But I’m sure Mr. Littwin will clarify all this in his very next column.

    Or not.


    “Hillary Clinton snapped at a Greenpeace protester. She linked Bernie Sanders and tea party Republicans. And she bristled with anger when nearly two dozen Sanders supporters marched out of an event near her home outside New York City, shouting “if she wins, we lose.”
    “They don’t want to listen to anyone else,” she shot back. “We actually have to do something. Not just complain about what is happening.”
    After a year of campaigning, months of debates and 35 primary elections, Sanders is finally getting under Clinton’s skin in the Democratic presidential race.” – Associated Press

    For a year now, Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email during her tenure as Secretary of State has hung like a dark cloud over her presidential campaign. As I told you months ago, EmailGate isn’t going away, despite the best efforts of Team Clinton to make it disappear. Instead, the scandal has gotten worse, with never-ending revelations of apparent misconduct by Ms. Clinton and her staff. At this point, EmailGate may be the only thing standing between Hillary and the White House this November.

    Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation examination of EmailGate, pursuant to provisions of the Espionage Act, poses a major threat to Ms. Clinton’s presidential aspirations. However, even if the FBI recommends prosecution of her or members of her inner circle for mishandling of classified information—which is something the politically unconnected routinely do face prosecution for—it’s by no means certain that the Department of Justice will follow the FBI’s lead. –

    Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has to worry about a steep drop-off of the black vote that could imperil her chances of winning the White House in November, an analysis has found.

    The number of African-Americans who voted in Tuesday’s primaries plummeted by an estimated 40 percent in Ohio, 38 percent in Florida and 34 percent in North Carolina compared with the 2008 Democratic primary when Barack Obama was on the ballot, reported the advocacy group Black Votes Matter. – New York Post

    “White men narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 race for president, but they are resisting her candidacy this time around in major battleground states, rattling some Democrats about her general-election strategy.
    While Mrs. Clinton swept the five major primaries on Tuesday, she lost white men in all of them, and by double-digit margins in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, exit polls showed — a sharp turnabout from 2008, when she won double-digit victories among white male voters in all three states.
    She also performed poorly on Tuesday with independents, who have never been among her core supporters. But white men were, at least when Mrs. Clinton was running against a black opponent: She explicitly appealed to them in 2008, extolling the Second Amendment, mocking Barack Obama’s comment that working-class voters “cling to guns or religion” and even needling him at one point over his difficulties with “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.” – New York Times

    “Call it “democratic socialism” to make yourself feel better, but what we have is an old hippie regurgitating cut-rate Lenin. And it’s obvious — especially when contrasted with the Democrat alternative — this kind of radical idealism is what really propels the Democratic Party.
    “Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together!” Sanders roars in the ad. All genders, ethnicities, races, ages, and sexualities will meld into one and force government to “work” for everyone. The thing is, if we weren’t divide by our gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, Democrats wouldn’t win any elections.” –
    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Memorial Day – May 30, 2016


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