Yes, it appears that Colorado’s former lieutenant governor won’t need the full 30 days to make up her mind. I have received word from a reliable source or two that Jane Norton is definitely going to announce her candidacy for U.S. Senate. My guess is this will mean Bob Beauprez opts to stay out of a crowded phone booth field.
Initial reactions? Norton doesn’t bring Beauprez’s baggage of the disastrous 2006 campaign or firsthand experience with the fiscally profligate Republican Congress of the early-to-mid 2000s. She brings administrative experience in state government, whereas the current two frontrunners in the race Ryan Frazier and Ken Buck have experience in municipal or other local government.
Both Buck and Frazier have something on their record that Norton does not — winning elective office on their own. On the other hand, Norton ran on the coattails of a successful and popular incumbent governor Bill Owens in 2002. She served in the lieutenant governor role through the full four years of Owens’ second term, a term that saw the then-governor back Referendum C, the largest tax increase in state history.
Starting in November 2007, Jane Norton served as the state co-chair of the John McCain presidential campaign. Where does she stand on any of the major issues of the day? At this point, very little is known. But if her clearest, most recent identification is as a McCain Republican, that won’t inspire a lot of love from the base.
If my sources are correct and Norton indeed is entering the crowded U.S. Senate primary fray, she has good reason to sense an opening. The Grand Junction Sentinel has reported on a Public Policy Polling survey that shows a lot of indecisiveness early on among GOP primary voters. In some ways, this mirrors the online poll we hosted last month that showed Frazier ahead but a lot of people still undecided.
It’s too early to have any serious idea what sort of impact Norton might have on the race, but it seems likely to me that the old guard of the Colorado GOP is not going to let the prize go to an up-and-comer like Ryan Frazier or Ken Buck. And with Norton, unlike Beauprez, they largely have a blank slate.
This thing still looks wide open to me. If anything, I think Frazier benefits more than Buck from Norton entering the race. But what it all means, though, we shall see ….