by Jonathan Singer, Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 06:05:43 AM EST
Update (Jonathan): Don't think this race is a tossup? Think again. A new Rasmussen Reports poll has this race as a statistical dead heat. Now it seems to me that Rasmussen didn't push undecideds nearly enough, and that the SurveyUSA poll showing Udall up 6 points passes the gut check a bit better. That said, this is going to be a close race, so don't forget about it, and make sure to get involved.
On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Mark Udall, the presumptive Democratic Senate nominee in the open seat race in Colorado. This campaign is getting dirty fast, with a conservative 527 already slinging mud at Udall, who they fear has a good shot at continuing the Democrats' trend of success in Colorado (the party has picked up a Senate seat, the Governorship, two House seats and both chambers of the state legislature in the past two cycles). But Udall is ready for it, with more than $3.1 million in the bank as of the end of September and a small, but noticeable lead in head-to-head polling against the presumptive GOP nominee, former Congressman Bob Schaffer. But if you want to give Udall a boost, as well, head over to Act Blue and make a contribution to his effort today.
You can download the audio of the interview here as a large .mp3 file or listen to it through the player below. I have also included a rush transcript of the interview, which covers a lot of ground, from campaign tactics to specific issues like energy independence.
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Jonathan Singer: At the beginning of the cycle this looked like it was going to be the top race, the easiest race for the Democrats in the Senate. Now there are so many open races people maybe aren't paying as much attention anymore to Colorado. Why should be people around the country - we'll get to Coloradans in a second - but why should people around the country be homing in on this race?
Mark Udall: It still is a crucial race to generate a 56- or 57-vote majority in the Senate so that we can really grab the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where the Senate is not a place where you play defense and protect the rights of minorities - racial, political, whatever it may be. Historically that's the role the Senate has played, in some cases not in ways that make us particularly proud. For example segregationists held sway in the Senate for decades, that's why the civil rights that were promised weren't forthcoming for way too many years. But in order to really move this new agenda you have to have 56 or 57 votes.
I welcome all these additional competitive races. It excites me. In the summer I was saying to groups, "I intend to be the seat we hold so we hold the majority. I know Tim Johnson will win. I have every belief that Mary Landrieu will win. But this is the seat that will ensure that we have the majority." And I paused and said, "But wait a minute. By the time we get out to counting the votes in Colorado, I could be the 56th or 57th seat." Think of Maine. That has real potential. Right now, of course, it is what it is. But Tom Allen will go the extra mile to make that race. New Hampshire. Minnesota was in the mix at that point. And then, of course, Virginia came on the radar screen. Now New Mexico. There are a couple of other interesting states, Kentucky and Alaska. So we need all of these races to be successfully concluded, including mine.
So I welcome this. Think of the people who are standing up to run. Jean Shaheen, Tom Allen, Mark Warner. In Minnesota you have two very competent potential candidates, there, two very different candidates in Mike Ciresi and Al Franken. And now the race that I'm waging and the race that Tom [Udall] will wage in New Mexico.
What I will add, too, is this is a tossup. Colorado is not a blue state. You know this. It's purple right now. It's purple because there are some trends that have emerged in the Rocky Mountain West that are best symbolized by Governor Schweitzer's success, Senator Tester's success, Governor Freudenthal in Wyoming - people forget Wyoming has a Democratic Governor. And you come down that long blue bridge from the Canadian border to the Mexican border of Governorships, and it's connected now, what happened in Colorado, with Governor Ritter. There isn't one playbook or one formula for a Democrat to have success in the West. But there are some key elements I know we can talk more about.