As Peter Marcus reports today for The Durango Herald, state Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) is hoisting up a trial balloon for a potential new job in 2016 — be it for the U.S. Senate or in CD-3:
Roberts spoke to The Durango Herald on Friday, two days after the legislative session ended. She said she has time now to consider the massive 2016 undertaking.
“I recognize it would be a long-shot,” Roberts said. “But to be in the U.S. Senate, that would be something that I am in the process of thinking about.”…
…One rumor that has been circulating is that U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is considering a run for U.S. Senate. In that case, Roberts also could vie for that 3rd Congressional District seat. But Roberts said she is less interested in that seat, and a spokesman for Tipton said, “Congressman Tipton is very happy to be serving Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
We’ve heard Sen. Roberts’ name mentioned for higher office here and there, though we’d agree with Roberts herself that a U.S. Senate run “would be a long-shot.” As Peter Marcus noted in the Herald, Roberts is coming off a particularly tough legislative session that saw her take several difficult votes sprinkled in with some eyebrow-raising statements (including her off-the-reservation admission that SB-268 was, indeed, a bill about creating Personhood).
Congressman Scott Tipton was floating his own name for U.S. Senate back in January, though a spokesman was intentionally vague in responding to Marcus for this story. Running a campaign for Congress in CD-3 would seem more logical for Roberts, if Tipton did indeed decide to take a shot at Democrat Michael Bennet in 2016. Roberts has not had to run a serious campaign herself since winning election to the State House in 2006, and the Colorado Republican Party is a lot different today than it was 10 years ago. Unless Republicans were to completely stand down for Roberts, we don’t see how she’d ever make it out of a Primary; even if she did, Roberts would be forced to move so far to the right that she’d never be able to get back to the middle before a General Election.
Roberts also would need to overcome the political detriments of being relatively isolated in Durango. She has no name recognition along the Front Range, and Roberts has not built up any sort of donor base that could jump start an undertaking as ambitious as running for U.S. Senate. Any Republican candidate in 2016 will be compared to Sen. Cory Gardner in some respect; it is important to remember that Gardner had been carefully cultivating a broad base of Republican support for years prior to his sudden entry into the 2014 Senate race last February.
If nothing else, today’s news from Roberts should prod the likes of state Sen. Owen Hill (who also ran for U.S. Senate in 2014) to get moving, and it will probably shake loose a few more potential Republican names for 2016.