Writing at The Corner on National Review, former Colorado state representative Rob Witwer sounds a note of caution for his fellow Republicans about the new political landscape surrounding the governor’s race:
When [Denver mayor John] Hickenlooper first ran for office in 2003, the geologist-turned-restaurateur was dismissed by some as a political neophyte. But his humor, approachability, and business savvy helped him dominate in a field of seasoned, longtime Denver politicians — he cruised to victory without breaking a sweat. Since then, he’s enjoyed perhaps the longest honeymoon in Colorado political history.
Whether or not Hickenlooper’s longstanding popularity in a one-party city will translate into success in a competitive state race remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: If Hickenlooper is indeed the Democratic candidate this November, Colorado Republicans underestimate him at their peril.
Witwer’s point is a prudent one. Of course, Republicans shouldn’t underestimate John Hickenlooper — he polls the closest to Scott McInnis of any of the Democrats tested.
Nonetheless, fellow RMA blogger Don Johnson notes that even the 3-point deficit will be difficult for Hickenlooper to surmount in the 2010 political environment. Joshua further reminds us of the Denver mayor’s potential unseen weaknesses.
Rob Witwer is correct: Hickenlooper is likely the best the Democrats have to offer as a fill-in for Bill Ritter. But if Hick (or any other Democrat, for that matter) decides to enter the contest, his odds of success will depend more on the political and economic environment than any factors his campaign can control.
Whether you agree or disagree, you can sound off on the likely outcome of a Hickenlooper-McInnis showdown and lots of other issues and campaigns at the January 2010 Survey of Colorado’s Political Temperature.
Rob Witwer is co-author of The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) — set to be released in April. I can’t wait for my copy.