I will follow up my fellows in throwing some thoughts out about the 2008 Senate race in Colorado.
First of all, I am sad to see Sen. Allard go. I think, though he hardly manged to "tower over Colorado electoral politics," Sen. Allard proved to be a hardy candidate who seemed to remain truly humble in office. And humility is a trait the Senate is sorely lacking these days-on BOTH sides of the all.
As to the front runners . . .first from the Left. And when I say left, I mean WAAAY Left. Mark Udall is the announced candidate of the Democrats, and if ever there was a candidate who truly represents the People's Republic of Boulder, it is Udall. Inasmuch as Boulder is a punchline for the rest of the state, Udall should be easy to mark as hard Left.
Unfortunately, Udall has three irrefutable advantages going forward. One, he is likely to be unopposed in a primary, which both saves him money and gives him an empty stage with which to define himself for the rest of the state. Two, he is a seasoned, political professional--he is unlikely to make the sort of mistakes and gaffes that derailed the GOP's last two statewide candidates. And C, he is likely to have a LARGE warchest. Early estimates are that this race could cost in the range of $5-10 million; I suspect that that figure is only candidate's money. My guess is that, once you factor in Tim Gill and Pat Stryker, the figure a GOP candidate is going to have to counter is closer to $20 million.
Of course, once you factor in the right-leaning 527s, that number probably drops to . . oh, say . . . $19.6 million.
Given those factors, I'm going to lay out what I think are the primary characteristics of the best candidate the GOP can put forward in 2008.
1. It needs to be somebody known, liked, and trusted within the state GOP. That, by no means, would lessen the likelihood of a primary challenge; but it is likely that such a person may be able to control the dabate, at least to some degree, and prevent it from becoming a gift to the Udall campaign (see "Both Ways Bob" for an example of such a gift).
2. He/She needs to be a seasoned media or political player. Somebody charismatic, somebody who can deliver a message with punch and, hopefully, humor, and somebody who is good on their feet in front of a camera. Look, the odds are the media is going to be . . . ha ha ha, I almost got that "odds are" line out with a straight face . . . the media is going to be openly hostile to the Republican candidate; he or she MUST know how to handle themselves and shut down the sharks. Again, hopefully, with humor.
3. He/She needs to be an unparalleled fundraiser. But, let's be realistic: in Colorado, we'll never compete with the Left in straight-out fundraising. Honestly, the best thing that could happen is to have a candidate [and I HATE to say this] who is willing to sink millions of their own dollars in to this race.
That list leaves very few viable candidates. Bob Schaffer? I question his ability to win the money primary. Bob Beauprez? I like Bob a lot--I've worked for him on two campaigns--but he fails on the second count. Bill Owens? I consider that unlikely at this time--nor does he meet the third criteria. John Suthers? Mmmmm . ..maybe. AG to Senator has worked before; unfortunately, I'm not sure he meets the third criteria, either. Dan Caplis? Unproven--as either a candidate or a fundraiser, though he is likely to be the best possibility as far as good on his feet. Mike Coffman? HUGE possible upsides, given his military service, but I don't know how well he plays on TV or as a fundraiser. Scott McInnis? I don't know about his fundraising acumen, and the long knives are already out for him
. Tom Tancredo? Don't make me laugh. Oh, wait, he already did that by announcing for President.
Who does that leave?
John Elway. Who has never been a candidate for political office, and whose honeymoon with half of Colorado will likely end as soon as he announces he's a Republican.
But we know he's good on TV, and we know he has the money to fund a good run--he's also pretty funny naturally. But things change when the prize is political office, and if you don't think his marital problems are going to be brought up early and often, you're kidding yourself.
Basically, . . . color me pessimistic about this Senate seat.
If the tide of politics across the country turns back around by 2008, there are a lot of GOP candidates who would be viable in this race, though tey're going to need a lot of money to do it; if the tide looks at all like does right now, or like it did last November, kiss this one good-bye.