Perry’s front-runner status in race has Colorado Democrats terrified

As an important member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy in western Colorado, I feel it is my duty to monitor the activities of the far left in the state. For instance, I spend some time each evening monitoring the activities of the left-leaning national media (I realize there is a certain redundancy in that phrase).

I also periodically don a psychic dry suit for a dip in the left’s blogs and websites. The first thing one notices is a lot of cursing in reference to leaders on the right, ironically often found in discussions about hateful conservatives.

In the midst of this, you do find one truism: Colorado’s left is scared to death of Rick Perry. “Overwrought” would be something of an understatement, as our friendly southpaws have watched the state move from an undernourished blue in 2008 to a purplish haze in 2010 and now appearing to be headed toward a hard roulette red for 2012.

A month ago, there was a gaggle of candidates on the Republican side of the spectrum, with the two contenders for Colorado GOP votes seeming to be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. One waggish observer termed them the Almond Joy and Mounds of the Republican field — one the left would paint as a little nutty and the other a little squishy.

Trouble started a couple of weeks ago when a left-leaning polling group found Perry tied with Romney among Republican voters in Colorado at 20 percent, with Bachmann bringing up the rear at 12 percent. It’s become quite clear that Perry has surged further into the lead nationally, with CNN putting him at almost double Romney’s support this week. It seems likely that he has extended his lead in Colorado as well.

That’s not the way it was supposed to be in Colorado, where a couple of factors were supposed to push conservative independents and Republican voters apart in this important state.

The assumption was that since Colorado is one of the highest-ranking states in tea party participation, Bachmann would make a strong showing. This would cause a problem, especially on the Western Slope, where it was assumed Romney would do well, with strong support among the many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The hope, by Democrat strategists from somewhere else, was that by painting Romney as the establishment, “it’s my turn” candidate, they could push the two camps into a sort of Hatfield-and-McCoy feud until an eventual nomination. At that point, if things went really well, it was hoped one of the two sides would be mad and stay home in 2012.

When Perry entered the race, many who thought like that believed it would just turn into a three-way feud. The last thing they thought would happen was that Perry would pull into a quick lead without a lot of fuss and with a high level of support among self-identified tea party activists.

A lot of this befuddlement comes because outside observers forget that much of Colorado lies outside the Boulder-Denver corridor. It still identifies, at some level, as being part of “the West” and therefore with Rick Perry.

Here’s an example: A friend of mine put up two photographs on his website. The first is of Perry at some event giving away a trophy shaped like an old Western boot with the inscription “Winner” on it.  He also appears to be firing a Colt Peacemaker into the air in a gesture of celebration.

Below that, my friend juxtaposed a photograph of President Barack Obama sporting mom jeans, riding a 10 speed and wearing a large polyurethane bike helmet. He asked the question: “Who would you rather have as president?”

Will Perry maintain front runner status? It’s hard to say, but the last thing the Democrats need is a clear Republican front runner throughout the primary process, who doesn’t have to spend his war chest to get the nomination.

In Colorado, if this led to a unified conservative showing in Colorado’s 3rd and 4th congressional districts, it could be enough to pull the state and the nation, back to prosperity.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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