Five weeks ago the Sunday Denver Post editorial page featured a piece by columnist Vince Carroll that made short shrift of the U.S. Senate candidacies of Ryan Frazier and Ken Buck, while making the pitch for Bob Beauprez. The Post‘s management clearly was using its editorial heft to tout Beauprez as the GOP’s great hope to defeat Ritter-appointed incumbent Michael Bennet.
Well, two weeks later Bob Beauprez officially announced he was NOT tossing his hat in the ring. So now the Post is rolling out the red carpet for Jane Norton. Witness today’s column by editorial page editor Dan Haley straining the bounds of credibility to tout Norton’s virtues and dismiss her opponents.
Where do I begin?
Even though she has no voting record and no readily known stances on hot-button issues — one insider even admitted she can’t remember what Norton’s voice sounds like — the former lite guv will be a game-changer in the crowded primary field. That is, if conservatives decide that winning is more important than past indiscretions….
Based on what? Skip to the end to find out:
Conservatives longing for a high-profile statewide victory will be willing to forgive and forget as long as Norton’s with them on other hot-button issues, such as abortion and immigration. And her more moderate take on the state budget crisis of 2005 will play well with middle-of-the-road voters in a general election.
The beauty of her candidacy is that she can be anyone she wants to be. Without a voting record, she can carve her own path.
So Jane Norton “can be anyone she wants to be” (not to be confused with the Army’s motto). What a nice way to spin that the only issue on which she has ever noticeably taken a stand is to back the largest tax increase in Colorado history. But let’s at least wait and see how Norton addresses to the grassroots of the party (not to “party leaders” behind closed doors) her position on Referendum C first before deciding that it’s not as big a deal as her purity on the life issue and immigration issue.
Look, I’m a conservative “longing for a high-profile statewide victory”, yet I don’t think replaying the Pete Coors 2004 strategy is a formula for success. Speaking of Pete Coors, can rank-and-file Colorado Republicans at least get a chance to decide for themselves first whether Norton has the requisite “fire in the belly” to take this race to the finish line and unseat Michael Bennet before the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Denver Post tell us which GOP candidate is best for us?
Worse is the logic that playing to the hard-right on social issues and moving to the middle on fiscal issues is going to inspire the base and appeal to independent voters. (Yeah, the Post really loves Republican politicians with outspoken conservative views on social issues.) Has the Post really been following the state’s recent electoral political history or reading the tea leaves on what the political environment will look like or what sort of energy we can expect in 2010?
I like how Rossputin puts it:
I believe [Frazier's] political views will resonate much better with the broad Colorado electorate than would the views of the other GOP candidates. That means that some Republicans might have to decide whether they want a candidate to emerge from the primary who is their dream of a pure fire-breathing conservative, especially on social issues, but who will lose to Bennet, or whether they want to go with a solid candidate who might have one or two areas of difference with the most conservative members of the party but who stands a very good chance because of his wider appeal to knock out “Senator Who?”.
It’s almost as if Haley wrote this editorial piece in an alternate universe. The same can be said about his treatment of Norton’s opponents. First:
Ryan Frazier, an at-large Aurora city councilman, dazzled party activists early on with his pitch-perfect oratory. An online ad of a stump speech is downright Obama-esque. But the knock on Frazier, fair or not, has been his lack of depth on issues. Some Republicans would rather see him challenge Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the 7th Congressional District.
Way to push the national Party’s inside-the-Beltway desire to shove Frazier into a sacrificial lamb role against Perlmutter. But let’s get to the real head-scratcher: Frazier’s “lack of depth on issues”? Is Haley serious? It’s obvious he hasn’t even bothered to talk to the candidate if he can type that sentence on his keyboard with any degree of confidence. I guess the “Aurora city councilman to U.S. Senate is a bridge too far” argument had outlived its usefulness.
However, the party leaders mouthing the talking points to the Post at least could have thought of something credible to say about Frazier first. Even worse, if the logic were to be extended to Norton herself — whom Haley acknowledges is a blank state on the issues (she also has been invisible in the nearly three years since her term as lieutenant governor ended) — well, that would require the Post to be consistent and unabashedly neutral in Colorado’s Republican Senate primary.
While he doesn’t seem to have met in person with Frazier, Haley says he did talk to Ken Buck. The Post‘s editorial page editor says nice things about his resume and his “nuanced” grasp of issues, then just drops Buck like a lead balloon. Most interesting is the complete omission of any mention of the popular uproar against the NRSC’s interference on behalf of Norton that ended up changing Buck’s mind from dropping out of the race to staying in. Not worth even part of a sentence?
Haley’s column is titled “GOP spinning its wheels”…How about “Denver Post is just plain spinning” instead?
Because Haley’s red-carpet column completely channels the views of a small group of Republican beltway insiders and state party bigwigs, there’s a whole other side of the story being missed here. And for some reason, I don’t think Denver’s lone daily newspaper wants to hear it. Rocky Mountain News, how we miss you.
But we have learned one thing from Haley’s red-carpet column. We’ve learned six words we can latch onto as the primary season continues to unfold: Jane Norton, the Denver Post‘s candidate.