by Eileen | 2:40 pm, February 4, 2013 | Comments Off
Right off the bat, if the state Republican party is waiting until 20 months out from E-Day to recruit…ouch, not a good sign. For all I know, they’ve been furtively seeking a savior since 2010. It’s not as if I have some inside track. I’m not even registered with the GOP these days. But the point is that casting around for the Republican who can defeat Hickenlooper is treating a symptom. Colorado’s GOP should be developing candidates. You don’t find these people. You train and develop them. At least in theory. We seem to be anticipating that another Ronald Reagan will spring, perfectly formed, from the sweet smelling foam of the South Platte.
John Hickenlooper is a rising star who’s very good at effacing an ‘Aw, shucks, I’m jus’ a regular guy’ image. That image masks real tenacity and giant ambition. The legislature is hard at work passing bills that he’ll look great signing. Colorado leans distinctly leftish these days and, rightly or wrongly, the incumbent Governor will take credit for ‘guiding’ us through the dark days of the Aurora Theater Shooting.
At the state level, the Republicans have not been particularly skilled at winning the governorship for the past few cycles. 2006 was the year when it would have taken carefully planning and great effort to blow GOP retention of the seat, which is precisely what happened. In a 16.8% loss to a neophyte.
But we did not sit on our laurels. Instead, in 2010 we backed a plagiarist and then couldn’t come up with a way to prevent the one-man farce that is Dan Maes. Part of that is that it’s supremely easy to criticize and substantially harder to offer a realistic solution to a problem. Scott McInnis may have been the best the state party could have brought forth, which was their own damn fault. Once that fell apart and Tancredo waited until the absolute last minute to step in, it was Dan Maes. An utter joke with a fictitious resume, but who else was there?
Since then, Colorado Republicans refused to learn despite getting shellacked at the polls. Well, here’s the price.
There was no excuse for having lost the governorship in 2006. In 2010, we should have been able to take it back. In 2014, it’s going to take a miracle to unseat Hickenlooper.
We’ve known, or some of us have, for years that we have a very big problem in fielding competitive candidates in state-wide races. The question of ousting Hickenlooper is one we have known of for two years. Getting someone to the point where he’s a realistic candidate for a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate seat is a long term proposition.
At this point, GOP failure is cyclical. The insular, corrupt, self-satisfied nature of the party elite puts good people off. The lack of fresh insight worsens the rot. Leadership reeks of entrenched goofballs who know they couldn’t hack it in a free market for talent. Everything about getting involved attracts would-be cronies, puts off the best talent, and forces the middle of the pack to become corrupt to ascend or accept being ground down and remaining at the level of phone-banking-schlub.
Rather than resurgence, the realistic assessment of Colorado Republican near-term fortunes might well be further collapse.
My own dark prediction for the GOP in Colorado in 2014 goes like this. We will not retake the Governorship and we’ll likely lose the Secretary of State. Gessler is inflammatory and vulnerable on multiple fronts. If Walker Stapleton tries for the Governor’s Mansion, he’ll lose and there goes the Treasury Secretary. It’s not inconceivable that we enter 2015 with no statewide offices at all.
Coffman is in grave trouble, which would put the GOP back into the minority on the Congressional delegation. And we are nowhere near getting back either of the U.S. Senate seats. Having real talent from out-of-state move and establish residency would be faster then producing a viable Senator from our current stock. I am not saying there is no potential. I am saying we drive off or ruin talent.
As a wise friend commented over lunch recently, “McNulty got hosed on redistricting. The state House is gone for a decade.”
All of which leaves the state Senate and the down ballot races. And that’s commensurate with the talent we can offer right now. Taking the small races seriously is a start the right needs to make. Colorado Republicans needs to be talking to voters, listening to voters even more, need to be seen at the decidedly unglamorous events – partly because we aren’t ready for primetime and partly because making the rounds of 5 am breakfast meetings in ranching territory is a way to show you’re serious. And we need to develop a roster.
I wonder if anyone who actually has pull with the GOP is aware of this. It’s not adequate to say “We need candidates.” Who’s asking, “Why don’t we have good candidates?” Dick Wadhams, who shouldn’t be offering any ‘wisdom’ on Colorado politics at all, rolled off what is either a stupefyingly dumb tautology or a poor bid at humor:
It strikes me that 2014 offers a tremendous opportunity for new faces to step forward and seek major statewide office if none of our current congressional or statewide elected officials runs (sic).
That’s pretty much Dan Maes all over again. Much as we like the mythos of citizen legislators and fresh faces, the reality of the American political landscape is that rookies need to start small. We just can’t intelligently maintain that ‘newness’ or an aura of being untainted can match up against a honed and tested machine backing candidates who have been doing this for a lifetime.
Small scale elections are valuable training. It’s priceless operating knowledge. They weed out people who don’t have the aptitude for a political life. Scandals and idiosyncrasies comes to light before they decimate a major race. Wingnuts and loons get identified and shut down.
In 2006, of every race in the entire state, right down to the dog catchers, the Dems had someone running in all but two. Republicans had 50 or so with no one. Including a Congressional seat.
Developing a bench would help us vastly on the down ballot races and would pay a long term dividend of returning us to competition for state-wide seats. Once we had got to the point of having real options for the big races, we would no longer be as vulnerable as we are to seeing major races overtaken by barking moonbats and fumbling little leaguers.
In the 2014 gubernatorial contest, find someone who isn’t a complete hack and who understand he won’t win. Republican energy needs to be focused elsewhere.
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