Opportunity Knocks for Conservatives in CO

Former Rep. Scott McInnis said in a press release yesterday that he would not be a candidate for Senate.  The decision is surprising in light of the fact that he had said early on that there was no question that he would run.  McInnis`s exit clears the way for conservatives, for whom he would have been a strong challenger, to enter the race.

Most eyes will now turn to former Rep. Bob Schaffer, who lost a primary to eventual general election loser Pete Coors in 2004.  Had Schaffer been the nominee, Republicans would likely still be in control of the Senate, as Coors`repeated missteps and failure to come through on the self-financing that many had expected likely cost Republicans the seat in an otherwise very strong year for Republicans.  Schaffer, a favorite among conservatives both social and fiscal, has thus far put off a decision but has been making the rounds.  Should he decide to enter the race, he needs to do so quickly, as Democrat Rep. and nominee-to-be Mark Udall has already amassed a war chest of well over $1 million.

Schaffer, however, might not be alone.  While he has already garnered the support of former Sen. Bill Armstrong, who wields tremendous influence among Colorado conservatives, state Attorney General John Suthers is reportedly also considering entering the fray.  Suthers would have more than his share of problems with the social conservative movement in Colorado, a critical voting mass in Republican primaries.  Having said that, he just won reelection in a year that Democrats won handily.  According to Politics1.com, he is being recruited by the NRSC.  Judging by their recent history, that could well be a curse rather than a blessing.

Democrats may be salivating at the thought of a contentious Republican primary, but as 2004 proved, that isn`t always a bad thing.  Primaries in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina,  Oklahoma, and South Carolina, resulted in GOP victories.  In fact, the only place it didn`t work is Colorado, though that had more to do with the nominee`s failings than with primary attacks.  It gives free media to underfunded candidates, as well as giving primary voters the chance to get excited heading into the general election.  In fact, a Republican would probably come out stronger from a primary than he would if he cleared the field.  Having said that, candidates will still have to raise big bucks with or without primary challengers, and had better get started quickly or risk being left in the dust by Udall.

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