View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Senate Silly Season Starts 

This is shaping up to be the most interesting Senate race I've seen up close in 10 years - since the 1994 four-way free-for-all in Virginia, where Ollie North challenged incumbent Democrat Chuck Robb. Enough Democrats were disenchanted with Robb to induce former Democratic Governor Douglas Wilder to run. Enough Republicans were unhappy with North that Marshall Coleman, Virginia politics' own version of the Buffalo Bills, made it a foursome. Robb ended up winning re-election, but was defeated 6 years later by George "The Future is Now" Allen. Well, his son, anyway.

Ben over at Mt. Virtus has been all over this, as has Clay Calhoun. Sorry Clay, but with Salazar in the race, Bob Schaffer looks like the best Republican candidate. Scott McInnis wouldn't be credible, retiring from his House seat with Washington Fatigue. Beauprez is a fine guy, but Schaffer had been around for a while, he's got more strength within the party, and is better-known statewide. If Tancredo runs, he's got no chance, but he can make Schaffer look better by comparison.

The big winner in all this seems to be Salazar. Udall is probably too liberal to win statewide office, but Salazar has been a pretty effective Attorney General, his gallingly weak, albeit successfull, attack on the redistricting plan notwithstanding. Udall also can't run for both House and Senate, so if he loses, he disappears for at least two years. If Salazar wins, he goes to Washington, and probably stays there for the rest of his political life. (Unlike Virginia, the state capital here is seen as a step lower than Washington.) If he loses, he stays in office and runs for governor in '06, with a higher statewide profile than Coffman, who's not going anywhere.

One other note: everyone keeps citing that 51-48 number as though the only other Senate seat up for grabs was in Alaska. Control of the Senate does not hang on this seat. Even if we lose it, Republicans are likely to pick up three seats in the South, and have a good shot at two or three others. Barring electoral catastrophe, the Senate is not going Democratic. However, the Republicans believe that they need to net four or five seats to Leahy-proof the judicial nominations process. Losing Colorado would make that all but impossible.

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