View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Kerry Sinking Western Slope 

The area between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada used to be a vast inland sea, the main remnant of which is the Great Salt Lake. Kerry's hopes in that region are starting to look about the same, and he may be taking down some of his less sea-worthy Democrats. According to the Grand Junction Times-Sentinal, Republican 3rd District Congressional candidate Greg Walcher is accusing John Salazar of throwing Kerry overboard, Jonah-like.

Walcher based his comment on Salazar’s refusal to outright endorse Kerry during a Monday night debate in Snowmass.

When questioned about where he stood on “that man” — Kerry — Salazar gave a hazy response. “First of all, I didn’t say I was supporting him. Second of all, you know, for you to tell me that I am, well, I guess you are reading my mind,” Salazar said, according to a Walcher press release and audio recording of the debate supplied by the Walcher campaign.

Reeves Brown, executive director of the nonpartisan Club 20 and moderator of the debate on behalf of the Colorado Rural Electric Association, said Salazar clearly was in a difficult position, trapped between party loyalty and the generally conservative political realities of the congressional district.

“I just kind of winced” at Salazar’s response, Brown said.

Brown winced? Heck, I'm pulling for Walcher, and I winced.
Now Salazar says he was just a little confused by the question. If you believe that, I'm sure the campaign has some oceanfront property out in Grand Junction they'd like to sell you. Because when someone mentions the name of your presidential candidate, you don't mutter platitudes about the sanctity of the private ballot. You gave that up when you ran for office on a party's ticket, using that party's resources. If there's a specific issue you disagree with him on, it's a wonderful time to stand up and demonstrate your independence. This is probably easier to do in the Senate, but the whole notion is pretty popular here in Colorado, and Tom Tancredo has managed all right for himself in the House.

His campaign and the Kerry campaign referred reporters back to Salazar's comments at an August Democratic Unity rally in Pueblo. But then, Salazar's campaign spokesman Jeff Bridges said that people didn't really care if he was supporting Kerry or not. That's the response you give when you don't want to be tied to the national ticket. Walcher can keep reminding people of this, gently, and force Salazar to mention his support for Kerry more often.

Here's the other question, though: John's younger brother Ken has run his campaign against the President and with Kerry, the more explicitly, the better. There's now some indirect evidence that that's hurting him in the western part of the state, where conventional wisdom has him connecting well with the farmers and ranchers out there.

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