‘Pin action’ from East Coast knocks Ritter from the race

In bowling, one of the things that experts discuss is the concept of “pin action.” This refers to the chain reaction that is set off among pins as others are knocked from their positions.

Pin action seems to have knocked off our old friend, Gov. Bill Ritter, and the ball was thrown all the way from the East Coast to Denver.

Anyone who’s been following national and state politics can spot a trend of political circumstances that are spelling the end for left-of-center Democrat officeholders, beginning with the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey.

Virginia was the state most like Colorado — a traditionally reddish state that elected a Democratic governor the year prior to the Republican debacle in 2006 and followed with a swing to the Democrats and Obama winning that state in 2008.

Virginians also share another characteristic with Colorado’s present gubernatorial issues in that their Democratic governor had gotten himself into a popularity hole that he could not seem to dig his way out of, no matter how much he tied himself to the president.

Gov. Ritter also has hit a bottom in the polls and has not been able to move, with Rasmussen polling showing him trailing former Congressman Scott McInnis by 8 points in December and only 18 percent of voters strongly approving of his job performance and 31 percent strongly disapproving. The real icing on the cake was that, like his counterpart in Virginia, his numbers appeared to be sticking, remaining the same from September to December.

Most damaging for Ritter has been his low numbers with unaffiliated voters. Poll numbers indicate unaffiliated voters have swung to a 46 percent to 39 percent advantage for Ritter’s Republican opponent.

National Democratic leaders have now seen gubernatorial campaigns get stuck in the mud of unpopular governors in several states. The pin action that apparently knocked Ritter out of the race began with last year’s loss in New Jersey, a state so thoroughly unionized and Democratic that Jon Corzine only had to spend $38 million to win the governor’s post.

His 2009 re-election bid — with tidal waves of dollars personally spent by Corzine and him still not able to carry the day — caused Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean to swear a great oath that, as God was his witness, he would never be hungry again. Okay, that was from “Gone with the Wind,” but I’m sure it was something really dramatic like that.

The powers that be on the national front that would funnel money and support to the Colorado governor’s race were not interested in backing an incumbent who no longer looked capable of finishing well. They clearly hope a new candidate might not carry the anvil-heavy baggage of the present governor.

Liberal Web sites are atwitter with speculation on a new candidate’s identity. Many favor Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who has shown some promise but has little familiarity with the state west of Wadsworth Boulevard and seemed quite happy with that. So a burning desire to lead the state now might seem a bit manufactured. Additionally, there were a lot of peccadilloes that arose in the city of Denver under his watch during the Democratic National Convention that could prove ... distracting.

Some would like to see former Colorado House Majority Leader Andrew Romanoff change focus from running what seems to be quixotic campaign for United States Senate (Michael Bennet campaign: $3.6 million — Romanoff: $300,000) and turn his attention and better-developed campaign skills toward the governor’s office.

Either Hickenlooper or Romanoff would need a good roadmap of the western part of Colorado, with major towns circled for reference and a reminder that Moab is in Utah.

And what of Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien? She has a resume that indicates she has not produced one marketable private good or service since the mid-‘70s. She sounds like a match made in heaven for the present state Legislature.

Only time and money will give us the answer.


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