As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Matt Steiner reports:
Less than three weeks after Colorado State Sen. Owen Hill refused to give up his bid for a U.S. Senate seat, Hill is leaving the race and will give his support to the U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner.
Hill, of Colorado Springs, said in late February that Gardner used "corruption and backroom deals" to pressure him out of the running…
But hey, you know, that was then.
On Monday, though, Hill said that "unity within the Republican Party" will be needed to gain back control of the Senate.
"With all the support Cory has, we need a united front," Hill said. "He has the ability to leverage a national network to beat Mark Udall."
Freshman state Sen. Owen Hill would certainly know about how now-presumptive GOP nominee Cory Gardner's "national network" can be "leveraged" to do stuff. After all, the first use of Gardner's "network" was to "leverage" most of the other Republican U.S. Senate primary candidates out of the race before he even got in! Hill's reaction to Gardner's entry into the race was, as the Gazette reported, indignant:
Hill said Gardner came to him weeks ago and pressured him to drop out of the race.
''It's party leadership trying to decide who gets to run," Hill said…
"This is the exact same corruption and back-room deals that have caused the Republican party to lose elections year after year," Hill said. [Pols emphasis]
And as Hill's supporters in the Tea Party Express said at the time, courtesy the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:
"With a head-to-head matchup between the establishment's anointed candidate, Cory Gardner, and Owen Hill, the choice is clear for Tea Partiers around Colorado and across the nation," [Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy] Kremer said.
We're not completely surprised by this turnaround, of course; when you put a "backroom deal" in place the likes that Gardner initiated, you generally try to tie up all of the loose ends. However, it did seem as though Hill was going to keep pushing forward with his candidacy. Hill had raised enough money, and picked up enough support from Tea Party types, that he could have made a legitimate run at the GOP nomination. Frankly, we wouldn't have been surprised with any decision from Hill, short of changing his Party and running as the American Constitution candidate.
Hill's exit doesn't do much to help Gardner avoid tacking to the right, since he's already the 10th most conservative member of Congress. The fact is, Gardner is already going to have to walk back a large body of politically harmful statements from his time as a safe-seat legislator and congressman–and it's going to hurt him when he does. A Primary certainly wouldn't have made things any easier for Gardner, but it doesn't change this particular set of problems.
As for Hill, this merely proves the old saying: "age and treachery beats youth and skills."
All in all, Hill's candidacy for U.S. Senate was fairly well played. He showed that he could raise a respectable amount of money, and he demonstrated enough connections to gain the support of the likes of former Congressman Ron Paul. Hill is a young candidate who took advantage of a vacuum for Republican candidates — which was timely, since he doesn't need to worry about running for re-election to the State Senate until 2016 — and he lives to run for something else another day. This all worked out pretty nicely for Hill, provided he makes a smart decision about his next race and doesn't pull a Ryan Frazier.