Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Romanoff v. Bennet

I've seen no small amount of hand-wringing from Colorado Democrats lately about the terrible divisiveness of the Romanoff/Bennet contest and how it threatens to rip the party apart.  Please.  The party survived the Obama/Clinton division; it can certainly survive this.  The number of Colorado Democrats who passionately care about the outcome of this nomination right now could easily fit inside Magness Arena with room for a hockey game.  Besides, it really hasn't been that nasty.  Despite what the most committed of the candidates' partisans are saying, the candidates themselves have been remarkably civil to each other. The major debate they had was interesting and informative, and both came out looking bright and decent.

As we know, there are very few policy differences between the candidates.  Really, the major distinction between them at this point is a tactical one, based on Romanoff's refusal to accept PAC money.  (See his web ad.)  Personally, I don't care much about this issue.  There's little evidence that campaign donations actually change legislators' votes, no less actually corrupt politicians.  Nor is there much evidence that accepting or refusing PAC money will change the results of an election.  If Romanoff feels he gets some modest advantage from the clean government folks on this, fine, but it doesn't really make a difference to me.

Personally, I find both of these men intelligent and capable and would happily be represented by either of them.  I feel Bennet has done a fine job in the Senate over the past year.  I remain a Romanoff supporter for one simple reason: I think he stands a better chance of keeping the seat Democratic than Bennet does.  So far, only one poll has backed me up on this, but there are other reasons to believe this.  As the governor's race has shown, incumbents are having a tough time right now, and an "untainted" Democrat might have a better shot than one currently in office.  Romanoff has also won election four times (granted, in a Democratic-leaning district) and has been heavily involved in some statewide campaigns.  Bennet might do this stuff well but is much less of a known quantity here.

My guess is that Romanoff will do pretty well in the precinct caucuses two weeks from now and might even win the night.  That's a long way from winning the nomination, where I still think the odds favor Bennet, but it would still improve public perceptions of Romanoff's electability and will likely prolong the campaign until August.  Buckle up, y'all.

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