Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Colorado Senate race: Hickenlooper v Gardner. A warning to Democrats

CPR has an excellent analysis of what happened in the Democratic Senate primary.. The one bit I would add to it is the impact COVID and the police brutality protests had on the outcome. It was especially difficult for Romanoff to counter Hickenlooper's name identification and general public familiarity with his governors' record. Hick was a very well known quantity and was a generally popular governor and still in recent memory. For the pragmatists, Hick was a sure winner over Gardner in a trending blue state, and Romanoff was either too left or an unknown quantity to see him as a sure bet to beat Gardner. I thought once voters knew him better, he would beat Gardner, too. However, air time media focus was so saturated with COVID and George Floyd coverage that there was no space for much free media coverage of the Colorado Senate primary. Advertising was not enough to give a full picture of Romanoff's assets. I also noted that Romanoff managed to work the word "progressive" into his ads, positioning himself on the left in a more moderate state not yet deep blue. In addition, key national progressive leaders did not campaign on behalf of Romanoff, and in fact, supported Hick, as this CPR report noted. My concern is that the issues raised by Romanoff, Hick's ethics, environmental and racial issue stumbles, will show up in Gardner's supporters' ads. Not that such issues represent Gardner's approach, but it would serve to suppress progressives' turnout on behalf of Hick. Divide and conquer is an effective political strategy. It can be used to pit more progressive Democrats against moderate Democrats, asking what difference does it make on these issues (a plague on both of their houses). It worked really well in Trump's victory over Hillary. Imagine where this country would be on issues dear to progressive hearts if Hillary had won. Trump has set about to destroy any progress Obama had made on those issues. If there is a lesson to be learned, we should not fall into that trap of progressives not voting because they could not stand either candidate. What is at stake is way more important than being sore losers. National observers believe the winner of the Colorado Senate race will determine the slim margin of whatever party holds more votes in the Senate. What is critical above all is that Democrats must carry Colorado because the Senate makeup will depend on it. If the Senate continues as the majority in control of the GOP, even if by one vote, Biden, if elected, would have a tough time getting even a moderate agenda passed. If Trump gets re-elected, then bye-bye environment, democracy, and health care, and hello to a Trumpster dominated Supreme Court.
Imagine, too, that if Trump chickens out, fears via polls he will lose the election for sure , he announces he will not run for a second term (Lyndon Johnson did that) and leaves the field to Pence, What then? If the RNC and GOP Senators support Pence through whatever the process or timing is to replace Trump, Pence is likely to rise. The never Trumpers, Lincoln Project, moderates, are only 10 to 20% of the GOP. Pence is appearing to position himself as a person Republicans turned off by Trump's incompetence and character flaws, but not his agenda, could support with enthusiasm. Pence is making his move now. That may account for Pence's recent campaign-style and local media focused visits to red states. The race may be entirely different in November than it is now so it is important not to count on anti-trump sentiment to turn out the swing vote. Progressives staying home could also ensure a Pence victory. As Bernie Sanders said recently, not voting for Biden is irresponsible. That same statement could apply to the Democrats in the Colorado senate race.

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