Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Colorado Governor Race

Race of the Day

Colorado Governor

August 4, 2010
90 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Open
2008 Presidential Race: Democrat Open

Outlook: Leans Democrat

When Bill Ritter was elected Governor in Colorado in 2006, Democrats hailed it as a further sign that the party was establishing a foothold in the Rocky Mountain State. As Governor however, Ritter encountered problems and facing a very difficult reelection campaign, abruptly dropped out. As the months passed, the widely assumed Republican nominee looked to be in a good position to take that office back for the party, but those plans have been complicated and perhaps derailed in just the last couple of weeks.

Next Tuesday, Republicans will select their nominee for Governor. The leading candidate has been Scott McInnis, a former Congressman, who had been talked about as a potential statewide candidate for years, and finally took the plunge. Polls showed him as a solid favorite over primary opponent, businessman and GOP activist Dan Maes, and also ahead of the sole Democrat candidate, popular Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, by at least a few points.

July saw the McInnis campaign rocked by accusations of plagiarism in past writings, and the candidate has struggled to change the subject. A poll out this week indicates that McInnis's support has dropped considerably and he is now at risk of losing the primary to Maes, who had already garnered support of many Tea Party activists in the state.

Adding to the Republican woes, Tom Tancredo, an often controversial former Congressman, who made a quixotic bid for the 2008 GOP Presidential nomination, has entered the race as the candidate of the right-wing Constitution Party. Tancredo had been calling on both Republicans to drop out of the race immediately after the primary, if they were shown trailing in the polls to Hickenlooper, so that the party could replace them. One can surmise, Tancredo himself would have wanted to get that nod. He is apparently going forward anyway though with a third party bid, and that factor alone might make it a tough task to keep the Democrats from winning over divided opposition.

The polls of the last few days now show the Democrat Hickenlooper easily ahead of the field, but only with support in the low 40s. It is hard to surmise that how many Democrats would actually vote for the very conservative Tancredo, so virtually all of the support he would pull, would be from the GOP nominee. As things stand now in those polls now though, both Republican candidates and Tancredo are running neck and neck for second place.

Ninety days is still a long time in politics and there are many directions this can go. Hickenlooper should consider himself very lucky at the moment over the GOP turmoil in the race, since while he is popular in Denver, being a big city, liberal Mayor might not make him the most appealing statewide candidate this year.

If somehow Tancredo can be convinced to drop out of the race before November, (which he might envision himself doing, setting himself up as a "hero"), then enough time might exist for McInnis to recover from the blows his campaign has suffered. Of course,he first has to get past Maes in the primary, and few people have believed to this point that Maes would be as strong in a one on one race against Hickenlooper.

As for Tancredo, he may also be imagining a scenario, much like what occurred last year in a special Congressional election in New York, where the informal Republican nominee is surpassed and a third party candidate becomes the de-facto GOP nominee. It is probably hard to see how Tancredo would be able to win, even under those circumstances.

Ultimately, the best scenario for Republicans, might be if the winner of next Tuesday's primary withdraws from the race, and then a replacement can be named. Perhaps that person could be Josh Penry, the 34 year old State Senate Republican Leader, who ended his campaign for Governor several months ago after it appeared that McInnis had the nomination wrapped up. Then, pressure could be placed on Tancredo to get out of the race in order to allow a Republican to win.

As someone who has never even been to Colorado, my personal endorsement might be pretty insignifant, but as someone who wants to see the GOP win as many of these races as possible, I suppose I still hope that McInnis wins his primary next Tuesday. He is still competitive with Hickenlooper in a one on one race, and there is time left for the "scandal" to lessen. If not, McInnis would probably be more willing to step aside for the good of the party than Maes anyway, considering how Maes has always been an underdog in this contest.

This race has changed dramatically in just the past couple of weeks, and with 90 days to go, it could take several other twists and turns. Where Republicans once had great hope not so long ago, they are now going to need to catch some breaks.

McInnis campaign link:


2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 2 D, 4 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 9 D, 10 R