View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, January 19, 2004

Referendum on the Nighthorse

I kind of like Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. He's a character, no doubt, and since he switched parties ten years ago, he's been fairly reliable, although more to the left than I prefer. He's certainly not a Senate leader, although as the Senate's lone Indian, he tends to get a lot of ink on those issues. On the proposed casino, he's been solid, saying that he'd just like to see them buy some land and compete, rather than create a wholly artificial "reservation" as a tax and regulatory dodge.

Still, sometimes he makes you wonder what, exactly, he's thinking. He didn't show up at a Dick Cheney fundraiser last week. Then, when asked about the casino developments, he said that he's tired of being asked all these questions about Indian issues, and that the spotlight makes him wish, sometimes, that he wasn't a Senator. Inasmuch as Democratic State Chairman Chris Gates is setting up the party to claim that Sen. Campbell just doesn't care enough about being Senator, and may not even run, this probably wasn't the wisest choice of words. Campbell probably does get tired of being a token, but he's also gotten considerable mileage out of it, and needs to avoid looking like a crybaby.

Given the likely quality of his opposition, I wouldn't say he's in any kind of trouble. If you're going to make these kinds of blunders, January, when nobody is paying attention anyway, is the best time to make them. But if the Republicans really want to make the Senate judicial process filibuster-proof, they're going to have to keep this seat. So far, Campbell doesn't look like he's trying very hard.

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