A quick tour of coverage of yesterday’s primary elections, starting with the Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Patrick Malone, and the loss of the CD-2 primary by moderate Eric Weissmann to iconic “Tea Party” favorite state Sen. Kevin Lundberg–a loss despite overt support for Weissmann from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
Weissmann trumpets a libertarian perspective that favored civil unions and abortion rights, while Lundberg adheres to more traditional, socially conservative ideals as an outspoken defender of traditional marriage between a man and a woman and opponent of legal abortion…
Lundberg’s victory and a handful of Republican primaries for seats in the state legislature that could be interpreted as an indication of where Colorado’s GOP voters stand sent a resounding message in favor of traditional conservative ideals. [Pols emphasis]
You can find evidence for a hard lurch to the right in Republican primary results around the state. In SD-23, the race to replace Sen. Shawn Mitchell was won by a distinctly fringy candidate named Vicki Marble, known by some locals as the “New Dan Maes“–over an arguably much more experienced and qualified public servant, Rep. Glenn Vaad. In HD-19, Amy Stephens crushed an upstart bid from fellow Rep. Marsha Looper, reaffirming her conservative credentials by helping kill civil unions legislation again this year. After becoming vulnerable in the wake of her support for the health care exchange bill in 2011, Stephens bet her political career on stopping civil unions. She was amply repaid with support from her friends at Focus on the Family, even as her actions do political damage elsewhere.
And from one of the most-watched primaries in the state this year, the Craig Daily Press reports:
[Rep. Randy] Baumgardner easily defeated incumbent state Sen. Jean White, of Hayden, on Tuesday night in what proved to be one of Colorado’s more heated Republican primary elections this cycle…
Baumgardner said he plans to move past a recent story published by multiple news outlets, including national outlets and the Steamboat Today, that a sex offender was living at his home in Hot Sulphur Springs. FOX 31 Denver originally reported that the sex offender was unregistered but later clarified he registered in April.
“I think that’s a nonissue,” Baumgardner said about the story. “We’re going to move forward.”
…White said she was disappointed when she and about 30 supporters watched the results trickle in from the HiWay Bar in Hayden.
“I was disappointed that his lies trumped my truths,” she said about Baumgardner after she conceded the race. “I’m proud of my campaign. I can stand proud. I stood on my principles. I worked hard. I ran a clean campaign. And unfortunately, the lies won.”
The ugly fight between Rep. Randy Baumgardner and Sen. Jean White, primarily driven by Sen. White’s vote for civil unions legislation, is a metaphor for everything that’s wrong with the Republican Party in Colorado today. Sen. White’s vote for civil unions reflected the overwhelming public support the issue now enjoys among Colorado voters–including many Republicans. Rep. Baumgardner, on the other hand, helped filibuster the civil unions bill at the end of this year’s session. Democrats have already told reporters that they plan to invest more resources in the SD-8 race this fall than they ever would have if Sen. White had won.
In just about all of these cases, Republicans made choices that could do more harm than good in the long run. Even if some of these candidates, like Vicki Marble, win in November, they could emerge as boat-anchor embarrassments to their caucus when the legislature convenes in January. Some safe districts could become pickups, like SD-8. In the case of CD-2, Republicans never really thought they could beat incumbent Rep. Jared Polis, but the moderate Weissmann might have forced Polis to pay attention to his own re-election over helping others. Thanks to Lundberg, the CD-2 race is now an asset to Democrats for branding Republicans as crazy.
Bottom line: Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call has talked a great deal about the need for his party to field reasonable candidates with intelligent viewpoints–on immigration as one example. Other top Republicans like Mario Nicolais have warned their colleagues that long-term minority status awaits the GOP if they are unable to break out of their wedge-issue boxes.
Better luck in 2014, we guess.