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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Underdogs Have Their Day in Colorado

Another day, another angry right-wing challenge to “establishment” Republicans once thought to be very conservative. In Colorado, the two parties held precinct caucuses accompanied, as always, by a straw poll among candidates for statewide office. On the Republican side, prohibitive front-runner for the Senate and former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton ran almost exactly even with self-styled Insurgent from the Right Ken Buck, a district attorney who’s an ally of famed immigrant-baiter Tom Tancredo.
Other than her backing of a controversial ballot measure to relax Colorado’s draconian tax limitation law, Norton’s main sin seems to be her friendship with John McCain, also under attack from the Right.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff actually beat appointed Sen. Michael Bennet in the caucus straw poll. This, however, was no surprise; Bennet is a political newcomer while Romanoff has deep roots among the party activists who attend these events.
Neither straw poll is necessarily predictive of what will happen in the primaries for the Senate that will be held in August. On the Democratic side, it’s noteworthy than the senator whose term is being filled this year, current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, didn’t win the caucus straw poll in 2006, and still went on to win the primary handily.
But if nothing else, the Colorado results kept underdogs alive, and on the Republican side, confirmed that this will be a difficult year for anyone with the dreaded “E for Establishment” label.

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