View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It's Coors v. Salazar! 

Pete Coors has defeated Bob Schaffer in a hard-fought Senate primary that was, in the final analysis, not all that close. At the same time, Ken Salazar won the expected victory over Mike Miles for the Democrats. It also appears that Coors, although in a closer race, will win with more actual votes that Salazar.

Coors's victory, and the size of the participation suggests that he had a couple of things working for him. First, money did make a difference, probably reaching more voters and attracting some unaffiliateds to vote in the primary. Secondly, it's possible that Bill Armstrong's strong-arm tactics may have turned some people off to Schaffer. We could argue whether that's fair to a Schaffer campaign that tried to distance itself from those ads, but they may have backfired, all the same, in the absence of a third candidate to turn to.

I was actually at Coors's campaign party for the results, and I came away with a few impressions. Coors himself is getting better as a speaker. He's not smooth, but he's increasingly comfortable, a point made by Senator Campbell. He drew a few laughs, stated the main themes of the campaign, thanked Senator Campbell for retiring, and was gracious to Bob Schaffer. (A lot will probably depends on how Schaffer conducts himself both in his concession speech, and in the days ahead.) At the same time, Coors was careful to contrast Republican and Democratic philosophies as much as personalities. I didn't hear Salazar's victory speech, but on KOA while I was driving home, I did hear him bring up a laundry list of issues without mentioning parties. If it's Coors's intent to nationalize the race, that's a good sign.

The national importance of the race was underscored by the presence of Senator George Allen of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sen. Allen also happens to head the NRSC. During his remarks, I was half-expecting him to say, "The Future is Now," but he didn't. For some reason he also didn't think it was funny when I told him I was relieved that he hadn't. He interpreted it to mean that I thought it would put off Broncos fans. I just didn't want him trading away draft picks.

I was a little disappointed that the War on Islamicism didn't show up more obviously in either Campbell's or Owens's comments. But Coors made a point of emphasizing the sacrifices of the troops, and the lifelong scars some will bear, in defense of elections like the one just held.

Finally, and on a topic we'll see much more of, a brief anecdote. In the middle of the crowd, well before meaningful results had come in. I stood right next to a local Univision reporter doing her establishment stand-up, the little 5-second clip that will tell the viewers where she is. I had intended to ask her some questions about which campaigns had made themselves more available, when she and her cameraman were whisked away, upstairs, presumably to interview the candidate himself. In an election where the Hispanic vote will be important, access and dollars will be key, since Coors doesn't really speak Spanish all that well. This was an excellent sign.

Cross-Posted at Salazar v. Coors

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