Politics & Policy

Buck vs. Bennet: Running From Obama?

Fox 31′s Political Reporter Eli Stokols snapped this shot of Colorado’s U.S. Senate contestants.

The U.S. Senate battlefield in Colorado is set. Appointed Sen. Michael Bennet won his first election victory last night, and will face Ken Buck in November. In his victory, Buck received 25,000 more votes than Bennet did in his primary win, and Republican Senate returns were 69,000 votes higher overall than Democratic turnout.

Bennet immediately appeared to distance himself from President Barack Obama, whose help he wielded extensively in his primary battle against Andrew Romanoff despite a sagging approval rating in Colorado that in late July sat at just 42%, quickly putting a dent in the theme of an Obama “psychological” victory

The Colorado senate primary pinned President Obama-backed Sen. Michael Bennet against Bill Clinton’s candidate, Andrew Romanoff. Bennet, who as he put it had never run for “dog catcher” before, took the nomination last night by six points. But when I asked him if he wants Obama campaigning for him in Colorado before November he hesitated.

“We will have to see. We will obviously do what’s right for the campaign,” Bennet told me. “He has been a huge help and I appreciate his endorsement and we’ll see what happens between now and November.”

“That’s not a yes,” I asked.

“I just won the primary about six minutes ago so we’re going to have to give it some thought,” Bennet replied.

National Review’s Robert Costa sums up Obama’s “Pyrrhic” victory:

In Colorado last night, Andrew Romanoff lost, Sen. Michael Bennet survived, and President Obama once again irked the “professional Left.” Romanoff, with support from the progressive activists and Bill Clinton, was unable to topple Bennet, the Obama-backed incumbent, in the Democratic Senate primary. Obama, of course, remains toxic for Democrats in general elections (see Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia), but his primary punch is strengthened by the outcome. Unlike Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, Bennet was able to overcome Team Obama’s clumsy job offers — the White House allegedly tried to woo Romanoff out of the race with an administration gig — as well as the Beltway stench. With Obama’s help, he swatted and maimed a dashing young lefty. For the president, it’s a Pyrrhic victory: He flexed his political muscle, but in the process, he bruised his core, left-wing base — the base Democrats need to show up this fall. Indeed, for Bennet, the celebration may be short-lived. [emphasis added] Like Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who fended off a similar primary challenge, he faces a tough race in November.

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