Update, 5:00 PM: Complete Colorado has uncovered evidence of the NRSC registering web domains for Jane Norton, which unfortunately would seem to confirm the rumors. Writing at the People’s Press Collective, El Presidente echoes my sentiments and notes that the popular outrage from grassroots Colorado conservatives is starting to build.
A well-placed rumor is circulating that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is planning to endorse former lieutenant governor Jane Norton upon her official entry into Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senate primary in the next few weeks. I sincerely hope the rumors are unfounded.
The NRSC has no business coming into this race so early in the process to endorse anyone. It wouldn’t matter if they endorsed Ken Buck, Ryan Frazier, or even Cleve Tidwell. Any such reckless action by the NRSC risks a backlash that could turn their well-placed intentions upside down.
Republicans in Colorado — including ones like myself, both sensible and principled — generally are tired of the candidate coronation process that has triggered a string of high-profile electoral defeats. Think Pete Coors 2004 and Bob Beauprez 2006, both fine men but both badly squandered chances. In each case the process that led to their selection generated a great deal of ill will that many of us are still working to overcome.
When Bob Schaffer ran in 2008, the fallout from the previous two election cycles did nothing to aid his already uphill challenge. Now, with an out-of-control Democrat majority revitalizing the grassroots in ways certainly not seen in my lifetime, the prospect of 2010 has brought hope that the slate can be wiped clean, that the Colorado Republican Party can listen to the voice of the people and return to its limited government, fiscally conservative roots.
Colorado Republicans, independents, and other engaged citizens don’t even know where all the candidates stand on the key issues yet — especially Jane Norton, the newcomer and great unknown. For example, I would be interested to hear where the former Department of Public Health director and recent McCain campaign state co-chair comes down on the critical health reform debate of our time.
Not whether she is against Obama Care … of course she is. But is Norton going to run on “the seniors’ health care bill of rights”, the Bobby Jindal plan, the Paul Ryan plan, the Tom Price plan, or some other consumer-centered reform? As a matter of fact, I’d like to hear from all the candidates out there on this issue. Can’t we at least get an answer before Washington outsiders tell us who we ought to vote for?
If the NRSC backs Norton (or anyone else) this fall, you can expect the ground troops will be demoralized. Those like myself — a committed conservative Republican volunteer and local party activist since high school (the last three election cycles here in Colorado) and one of the state’s most experienced and respected right-leaning political bloggers — and many others I know will turn their attention to other races, other issues, other activities. There perhaps might even be a Marco Rubio-style backlash in the form of a renewed grassroots fundraising effort to repel the NRSC.
Memo to Senator John Cornyn and the NRSC: We are glad to know you are available to help provide aid to the primary election winner next fall during the crucial contest to unseat Michael Bennet and his hollow record. We kindly but firmly plead that you do not throw your weight behind any candidate in Colorado before that, especially not so early in the game.
Like I said, I hope the rumors are unfounded….