A ‘different kind of Democrat’ — sure

Interpreting the outcome of Republican primaries for statewide offices here is pretty easy most years.

Usually it is a sign signifying nada. The story usually goes about like this:

Republican wins primary for U.S. Senate or governor to great fanfare, for about 48 hours at least.

Democrats nominate a “different kind of Democrat.”

Republican runs a clunky, underfunded campaign.

Democrat who claims to be a different kind of Democrat runs a polished campaign, featuring four million television advertisements of this “different kind of Democrat” standing by a stream or riding a bicycle or wearing a Carhartt jacket — or riding a bike by a stream wearing a Carhartt jacket.

Press mauls Republican and fawns on “different kind of Democrat.”

On general election night, Republican gets thumped by the different kind of Democrat.

The different kind of Democrat gets sworn in.

Democrat who claims to be a different kind of Democrat turns out to be a party line robot and thus a not-so-different kind of Democrat after all.

Colorado continues to morph into the red-headed stepchild of California. 

(Apologies to gingers, there)

As you can see, I don’t put a lot of stock in the outcome of Republican primaries.

With that as prologue, now allow me to answer the question: Will this year be different? Will this be the year that Republican primary winners go on to win the one that really matters?

The answer is, we’ll see.

Others aren’t so agnostic.

Channeling their inner-Cubs fan, many Republicans, and a goodly number of analysts for that matter, are feeling downright bullish about GOP prospects in November. On Wednesday morning, many were proclaiming this to be the year that we break our World Series losing streak.

And there is real evidence that could be so.

After flirting with nominating Tom Tancredo, a move that most observers believe would have hurt the chances of Republicans up and down the ticket, nearly 3 in 4 Republican primary voters cast their vote for one of the other guys.

In the end, a plurality gave the nod to the man that most believe is the strongest general election candidate, Bob Beauprez.

An interesting local sidebar there: But for Beauprez’s exceptionally strong showing in El Paso and Mesa counties, Tancredo would’ve likely won Tuesday.

Tancredo won significantly more counties than the other three candidates.  Tanc even carried big kahuna counties like Arapahoe, Jefferson, Adams, Denver and the conservative bastion, Douglas.

In the end, all that, which is normally enough to lock up a primary, fell short because of the pro-Beauprez outliers that Mesa and El Paso counties turned out to be.

With the exception of Beauprez’s hometown of Boulder, these were the only two counties he carried by a wide margin.

Note to future prospective Republican candidates: Campaign more on the Western Slope.

Beauprez’s win appears to round out the Republican ticket nicely.  In a year fraught with peril for Democrats across this Obama-weary nation, and in a year when Colorado Republicans have the Cory Gardner juggernaut leading the ticket, there is indeed ample reason to hope.

So, why not more effervescence from me?

Because we’ve seen this story before.  Several times, in fact.

The long knives sharpened by Obama and Reid are about to start flying in earnest.

And any guess on how long it is before we learn that Mark Udall, the man who cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, and Hickenlooper, the man whose leadership christened the most liberal legislative session in the history of our state, start running the blizzard of ads proclaiming themselves a different kind of Democrat?

Udall:  Hey honey, do you remember where we put the Carhartt?

Mrs. Udall:  I think it is under your Sierra Club hoodie.

Somewhere a junior Hickenlooper staffer is touring the rivers and streams of Colorado in search of a place for his first TV shoot.

There’s no doubt that Colorado Democrats have a formula for success.

Whether or not this year will be the Republican revival in Colorado many are now predicting will depend entirely on whether Gardner and Beauprez can construct their own.

Yes, Tuesday’s primary gives the Colorado GOP reason to hope.  But it will take a lot more than hope to beat the Carhart-clad “different kind of Democrats” standing in the way of a Republican victory this fall.

Josh Penry is a former minority leader in the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


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Republicans lose because they run bad candidates, but that isn’t long enough to fill a column.

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