It's going to be an interesting off-year election cycle here in Colorado.
We have a new piece posted today contrasting RNC Chair Michael Steele's remarks at the Colorado GOP dinner about how the party has strayed from its roots and Dick Wadhams' "anti-change" agenda despite the state party's pasting in three election cycles.
Kerry was reviled by the military establishment here thanks to the swift boat smear campaign against him. Coupled with lousy campaign strategy and an aloof stump demeanor, Kerry tanked here by 5 points.
Yet, the Dems won both chambers of the statehouse for the first time in 30 years. Ken Salazar, the maddening mushy Blue Dog Dem, also won statewide -- though narrowly to beer baron Pete Coors who had earlier knocked out Schaffer in the primary.
As complex and sophisticated as local campaigning has become over the last decade or so, I'm beginning to believe that presidential coattails are overrated in Colorado, if not nationally.
(1) This race will not be a blowout for Udall. It is fickle Colorado, afterall.
And ultra-conservative Schaffer is busy re-inventing himself as a moderate. Yeah, I know, don't choke.
(2) Dick Wadhams is running the GOP show here. I posted a list of his, er, accomplishments while running the Thune and Allen races.
Already, anti-Udall blogs have sprung up. Wadhams has been schmoozing the press since he landed back in Denver last year. With the exception of the Colorado progressive bloggers, one Rocky Mountain News columnist and the heroic work of Colorado Media Matters, Wadhams has gotten a complete pass by the traditional media.
There's a lot of work to do. The GOP wants to retain this seat. Badly.
I've not lined up behind a candidate as I have substantive concerns about all of them. At this point, I'm leaning to write-in Howard Dean.
That being said, I think the progressive blogosphere may need to adapt its own 11th commandment -- be responsible in parsing a candidate's record, statements or kindergarten essays.
Valid criticism absolutely has its place in vetting candidates. However, I'm not convinced that a microscopic examination of decade-old activities without context serves any purpose than to drive further cynicism about politics.
There isn't a person alive who could withstand that level of hoarde-like scrutiny. And we wonder why strong progressive citizens refuse to enter public service when all they have to look forward to is being ground into hamburger by savage oppo researchers and a gleeful media only too glad to participate in political assassination by a thousand papercuts.
Quite rightly, we rail about the rampant bias, ownership consolidation, and the numerous inadequacies of today's media oligopoly. Yet, hit jobs like this -- when lobbed at a political foe -- are celebrated as brave journalism and a great service to the voting public.
Thanks but no thanks. The newsbabe with blood dripping from her fangs isn't a credible source of information about a rush hour fender bender nor selecting the leader of the free world.
...but if you can't convince Latino voters to support a conservative GOP candidate then just insult the hell out of them with a Cuban version of "Step 'n Fetchit."
This attack ad against Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) is being broadcast widely across Colorado courtesy of Common Sense Issues, a GOP political advocacy group, on behalf of ex-Congressman Bob Schaffer. Udall and Schaffer are in a pitched battle to replace the retiring Wayne Allard in the U.S. Senate.
This approach isn't just simply a repugnant attack on the ethnicity of an important and growing voter bloc by mocking their Spanish-inflected speech, it's really, really dumb.
Evidentially, either Common Sense has none or their crack research team failed them.
The ad is designed to criticize Rep. Udall's sponsorship of a bill to allow U.S. oil companies to drill off the Cuban shore while he fights efforts to pock pristine land in Colorado with rigs, roads and pollution.
So they hurl a Fidel-lovin' commie label on him.
While that's beyond ridiculous, Udall's apparently got some very good company in the persons of arch-conservatives Marilyn Musgrave (Schaffer's hand-picked successor for his House seat), John Warner, John Thune, Larry Craig, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Pete Domenici, Ted Stevens and other stalwart Republicans to the Red Brigade. Each one introduced or supported similar bills in the House and Senate in the last legislative session.
Jim Spencer of Colorado Confidential has more here including a flat-footed response from Schaffer's campaign manager.
There is no question that Sgt. Darren Mischke is a wounded warrior. After two tours in Iraq, the 27-year-old Army vet suffers from nosebleeds, memory loss, mood swings, dizziness, blurred vision and severe headaches.
Only instead of treating him for what are classic symptoms of traumatic brain injury - or TBI - Mischke's wife and father say the U.S. military has tried to force him from the service for domestic abuse.
This morning, Colorado Confidential posted a heartbreaking story about the Army denying treatment to a brain-injured veteran and their attempts to force him out of the service.
The Bush Administration attempted to freeze funding for TBI programs, like the one at Craig Hospital in Denver where the Army has denied Mischke a chance at treatment for his war injuries. The president's recent veto of the Labor, HHS and Education bill prevented a $900,000 appropriation by Sen. Ken Salazar from supporting 14 TBI programs across the nation.
As has been stated upthread, Udall doesn't have a reputation for standing out there on the proverbial ledge on issues. Despite the fact that he hails from a safe Dem district.
Running for Senate in Colorado requires a much different approach.
While Ken Salazar throws many of us into conniption fits, his blandly moderate stances are what won him the seat and will keep him in that seat for as long as he chooses.
On this particular vote, my guess is that Udall is unsuccessfully trying to parse his stance on the war with the reality that Colorado's economy is largely dominated by military bases and defense contractors.
The '08 Senate is likely to be a close one and he can't afford to give his ultra-conservative fundamentalist opponent Bob Schaffer even wider margins of victory in the more conservative parts of the state with one roll call that was going to pass without him.
I don't like it one bit and wish like hell that politicians could take more principled stances. But there's our reality and then there's the average voting public's reality.
Unfortunately, there's far more of them than us. Udall simply appears to be running the numbers, just as Salazar does.
I'm not a constituent of Rep. Udall's (I'm in Musgrave's district, yeah, you can feel sorry for me now) but I do have a personal stake in his Senate race.
While I can't explain with any certainty precisely why he voted the way he did on this bill (my speculation follows), I think it is important for all of us to consider this:
Why do we approvingly cite AP or any other media outlets -- that we know all too often has great difficulty getting the facts straight -- when they report an item that confirms an opinion or line of reasoning?
Yet, when the same journalist or outlet reports a tidbit that flies in the face of our preconceived notions, we rail on about bias, their obvious lack of intelligence, or their apparent reticence to fall off the cocktail party invite list by reporting the truth.
We really can't have it both ways.
And that's my biggest issue with your post, Matt. It's predicated on whether AP got it right, which you yourself correctly question.
Wouldn't a call to Udall's office have been a better idea than relying on an AP reporter with credibility problems?
I firmly believe that none of our success at the local level would be possible without a strong grassroots network that the bloggers regularly tap into and visa versa.
All of the Colorado Drinking Liberally chapters are hosted by bloggers which we use to amplify the messages on our respective sites to the non-wired activist and interested political watchers.
We're fortunate in Colorado to have savvy grassroots organizations, like ProgressNow Action, that understand and support blogging. Couple that with new statewide satellites of Media Matters, CREW, and Progressive Majority that have also embraced the local blogosphere and a local guy done good who created Soapblox as a easy turnkey blogging software that's more robust and customizable than Blogspot.
We also meet regularly with each other too which solidifies the off-line networking and information sharing external to the blogosphere.
None of which is to say that locales without those resources can't succeed. It's very much a self-fulfilling prophesy of building a strong local blogging network to encourage and strengthen the grassroots activist communities within.
You're absolutely right about the sorry state of local media. It's ripe for blogger attention.
Oh, You Mean THAT $100,000
Approximately 3 hours after our post went up on Friday afternoon, the Colorado Leadership Fund ammended its IRS filings to reflect the $50K donation from Trailhead on April 21 and the $50K expended to Trailhead on April 23.
These transactions were previously missing from the Colorado Leadership Funds second quarter financial reports.
Spreading Wealth Around
Documents the complex web of contributions made by the same key organizations to Colorado 527s.
Shirah at Unbossed has been covering the slow descent of the IRS into privatization since 2005. Several of her IRS diaries are archived here.
From outsourcing work functions to battling the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), the Bush Administration has been implementing this plan for some time now in small fits and starts while keeping it all under the radar.
Thanks for bringing this important issue to the fore.