Also tomorrow: a
high-velocity Tea-Party backed challenger will meet a Blunt end, if
polls hold out in Missouri's Senate race. Rep. Roy Blunt did his best
to take the Tea Party anti-establishment rage out of the equation by
lining up key validating endorsements like Michele Bachmann's. Few
Republicans are as identified with the Washington establishment as Blunt,
but his challenger, Chuck Purgason, seemed to assume that merely
identifying with Tea Parties would be enough. He hasn't been able to
mount much of a real campaign. If he wins, it'll be a shock to the
system, a sign that the huge Blunt political machine was eaten alive by
Tea Party termites. If Blunt wins, Republicans have a much better
chance of keeping the seat. President Obama's approval ratings have
dropped double-digits in this state.
Next Tuesday, Andrew
Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado House, hopes to unseat
incumbent appointed senator Michael Bennet, an Obama Democrat, to get
the Democratic Senate nomination. The race has tightened, as Romanoff
has sharpened his edge against Bennet, improbably claiming that the
freshman was responsible for basically every bad thing that's happening
to the country.
For his part, Bennet is stuck: he is not oriented to
engage in slash-and-burn politics, his record is thin because he hasn't
been in the Senate for long and hasn't built ties to voters, and
there's still a tinge of resentment left over by the fact of his
appointment, seen by progressives as a knock against their values. In
any other year, Bennet would be a shoo-in for re-election. In this
year, there's a real chance that he could lose the primary.
Romanoff victory could be interpreted in one of two ways. First, it
might be seen as a sign that Democratic enthusiasm in Colorado is
higher, boosting the ticket's chances in November. Or it could mean
that centrist or moderate Democrats will sit out in November -- they
certainly won't vote for either Republican, spelling doom for the
Democratic chances of keeping the seat.
NBB: Bennet is the brother of Atlantic editor James Bennet.
The Colorado race has been
nastier on the Republican side, where the candidates, former Lt. Gov.
Jane Norton and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, have memorably and awkwardly
impugned each other's gender and motives. Buck has made two recent
mistakes: he was caught on tape disparaging the Tea Party for their
members' alleged obsession with President Obama's birth certificate,
and he "joked" that he'd be a better candidate because he wasn't
wearing "high heels," ostensibly a way of signaling to rural voters
that he knew how to wade through manure (literally and figuratively)
and could go to Washington and clean things up. Brain-bending mixed
metaphors aside, it's never good when you have to spend your last few
weeks apologizing and justifying.