Conservative deluge may swamp Colorado Dems

The Democrats’ hemp-hulled party boat is starting to take on a lot of water, so it’s time to lighten the load and it looks like some in the Colorado delegation may join the flotsam.

The party has been weighed down by a steady stream of unpopular legislation, failed Eastern European economic models and saddled with a captain whose navigation charts are so old the edges show sea monsters with the head of Ronald Reagan bearing the fearsome legend: “Well, there they go again.”

Alarmed union stewards running the bilge pumps have rushed to the deck and demanded that all but the most necessary items be put overboard, and it looks like Colorado’s freshman Fourth District congresswoman, Betsy Markey, may be among the first to visit Davy Jones’ Locker.

The New York Times and other sources have reported that the Democratic leaders are in the process of conducting a “triage” operation, whereby they will assess the viability of candidates in certain races to determine the level of support from the national party and big donors. With this process in mind, many political seers on both sides of the partisan gap anticipate Markey being marched off to a small boat (the aptly named dinghy), where she will be set adrift with only the health care bill to eat and the president’s fading star to guide her.

Markey’s problem is that even though she enjoys a monetary advantage over her Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, she doesn’t seem to be able to close the numbers gap.  Additionally, a recent poll showing Markey trailing Gardner by 11 points isn’t helping matters any.

The congresswoman’s campaign and others have responded that the poll was conducted by a GOP-leaning group, but the poll that is really worrying Democrats in “frontline” districts like Markey’s — those that swung in 2008 from Republican to Democrat on Obama’s coattails — is one conducted by a prominent Democrat pollster.

According to Reid Wilson at the National Journal, that poll shows former President George W. Bush currently six points more popular than President Barack Obama in these districts. Wilson said, “That Bush is more popular than Obama in Democratic-held seats is cause for outright fear.” And he reported one senior Democratic operative as saying, “He (Obama) is a walking radioactive disaster.”

Not much help to a first-term congresswoman like Markey, who now seems to be dangling from plutonium coattails. The radiation is also not confined to Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District. It seems to be spreading to the Third District, including much of Western Colorado, at a pretty crisp rate.

Even while we were contemplating poll numbers that showed Republican Scott Tipton in the lead over incumbent John Salazar, the respected Cook Political Report changed Colorado’s Third Congressional District standing from “leads Democrat” to “tossup.” Cook would normally give a hefty advantage to an incumbent, so this is great news for the Tipton campaign.

The report commented, “In Republican years, turnout goes way up on the deeply conservative Western Slope around Grand Junction and down around more Hispanic and Democratic Pueblo.”

Anyone who doesn’t see this as a conservative year is probably spending much of his or her time scratching out a manifesto at a cabin somewhere in the woods. Democratic response to this has been predictable: Raise more money and mobilize unions, which in today’s Democratic Party parlance are interchangeable phrases.

What is really a brain-teaser for Democratic candidates in the incredible 80 to 90 congressional seats in play is how to tout your accomplishments when they are so unpopular at home. Perhaps realizing that reading about how popular your votes were in declining East Coast newspapers is not an indicator of what’s going on in your district, would be a step in the right direction.

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


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