Colorado Republicans Turn Over the Apple Cart

by John Fund

Big changes on Colorado’s ballot. GOP congressman Cory Gardner is joining the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Ken Buck, the former Weld County prosecutor who narrowly lost a Senate race in 2010 after rhetorical lapses, will drop out of this year’s Senate primary to run for Gardner’s safe GOP House seat. It also looks as if a last-minute candidate will parachute into Colorado’s GOP primary for governor — businessman Bob Beauprez who served two terms in Congress before losing a governor’s race in the Democratic wave election of 2006.

The liberal website DailyKos says the Gardner switch increases the odds that Democratic senator Mark Udall will face a well-funded opponent. They note a Gardner primary win would mean “a titanic matchup in the Rockies. It would also further stretch Democrats by forcing them to divert resources from other contests, which is exactly what the party doesn’t need right now.”

Colorado Republicans have lost a bunch of statewide races of late owing to weaknesses in their statewide ticket. In 2010, the GOP blew the governor’s race when a scandal-ridden state legislator won the primary and Tom Tancredo, a former GOP congressman, pulled the lion’s share of the conservative vote running on a third party. Tancredo is running again this year. It may smack of back-room maneuvering, but some Colorado Republicans now appear eager to avoid the chaos and confusion of previous campaigns.