Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Only TV I'm Watching Is Candidate Propaganda

John Hickenlooper must be in a quandary (a quandary, incidentally, is an off-brand, 3-wheeled vehicle that tends to follow ruts). His campaign for president is going nowhere. People have been screaming at him to run for US Senate instead, because Republican incumbent Cory Gardner is ripe for the picking. Last Monday in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Hickenlooper signaled he's open to a proposition: "Hickenlooper Cracks Door Open To Challenging Cory Gardner."

Maybe Charles Schumer, who controls a whole bunch of bundled money earmarked for US Senate races, is blowing in his ear. Plus Hickenlooper's own internal polling, according to a leak in Politico, shows him pulling 60% of the vote in any primary. He was a popular governor (for reasons I'm not going to research, so don't even think of asking), and all signs now point to a Senate race. Au revoir, White House, and Godspeed!

But now comes the barrage of a new reality -- the "buzz saw" Hickenlooper faces from Democrats already running in the Senate primary. WashPost's headline on that topic three days ago delivered a double-ouch: "Hickenlooper's possible retreat to Senate race in Colorado could be rocky." A rocky retreat. Those people know how to draw blood! (The Colorado Senate race primary will flame out on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, on the same day that North Carolina will also be fulminating -- Thom Tillis's showdown with Republican challenger Tucker Garland and maybe Holly Grange's challenge to Republican frontrunner Dan Forest for the governship slot.)

Back last January, we wrote here -- waaaay in advance of anything concrete developing in the Senate race and when all kinds of people were getting mentioned as formidable candidates, some of whom had no intention whatsoever of running -- a list of potential Dem primary contenders, and Hickenlooper was at the top of it, along with Earl Perlmutter, Crisanta Duran, and Mike Johnston.

By May there were fully 10 declared candidates listed by, with several more rumored to be considering it. Mike Johnston was the only name from our January speculation to survive late winter/early spring. Here are the 10 from mid-May:
Climate activist Diana Bray
Economist Ellen Burnes
Former state Sen. Mike Johnston (scroll down)
Community organizer Lorena Garcia
Former House Majority Leader Alice Madden
Navy veteran Keith Pottratz
Former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff
Professor Stephany Rose Spaulding
Former U.S. Attorney John Walsh
Scientist Trish Zornio
So I, being damn Dem curious, went looking at the crop. Politico said that Mike Johnston already has $2.6 million cash on hand, followed by former ambassador Dan Baer with $1 million. John Walsh and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff have war chests in the high-six figures. "They’ve already carved out endorsements and strategies to guide them over the coming months, whether Hickenlooper runs or not."

Andrew Romanoff hasn't made a video (at least, I can't find one) but I looked at Mike Johnston's, which proved to be a disappointing and static talking-head. Someone with over two-and-a-half mil ought to have a more professional production. I looked back at what we found out about him last January, and it's clear -- despite the time and effort put into that video -- he'll be a formidable challenger to Hickenlooper, probably aiming for similar or the same moderate voters:

I looked into money-chase runner-up Dan Baer and found a very accomplished production that tells a candidate's story well:

Dan Baer would be the first openly gay US Senator. In Colorado it could happen. Baer's career experience -- well documented in the video -- would make him strong on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a chair Cory Gardner already occupies. Footnote: Baer had been all-in for the 7th Colorado Congressional seat early in 2018. He got in early because the incumbent Democratic Rep Earl Perlmutter said he was going to quit the House and run for governor, and Baer raised a lot of money quickly. But in October 2017, Perlmutter suddenly reversed course and said he had decided to stay put in the House. In deference, Baer suspended his campaign that same month and let Perlmutter keep it. Now he's back for something bigger, and he looks pretty well put together.

I looked at John Walsh too, a former prosecutor who seems older than either Johnston or Baer above:

The Walsh production tells a story, a little ham-handedly at times, but he might be a contender too.

Alice Madden looks strongest among the many women running, if video presence is actually any tell. She's at least an experienced, tough office-holder who knows what a campaign has got to do, and I instantly liked her personality: She says, "From 'you can't do it' to 'it can't be done, I've heard it all and overcome worse." If Colorado women united behind her, she could beat all the men:

Climate activist Diana Bray's video is excellently done, tells a story of imminent hazard, but I don't see any mention of her in Colorado media to suggest she has a shot:

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