The Denver Post listed 10 key story lines that may or may not be answered following tonight’s primary results, noting in particular the establishment vs. grassroots theme, the questions of Tea Party efficacy, and the impact of scandals and negative campaigning in determining the winners.
Here are a couple additions to that list:
1) Party Recovery. November electoral success will be helped in no small measure by either party’s ability to put the bitterness of primary rivalry behind it. For example, with the prominence of the Tea Party in Colorado and strong grassroots presence in both parties, will supporters of Ken Buck or Andrew Romanoff feel burned by the process and not join in the general election efforts?
2) Is Colorado still a swing state, or is the Colorado Model running just fine? This may not be answered directly by the primaries themselves as the candidates emerging from the Colorado will be playing within a partially pre-defined narrative. A new survey gives Republicans a good chance at making significant Senate gains. Will Bennet (should he win) benefit from President Barack Obama’s support, bucking (no pun intended) national trends that put Democratic candidates at a significant disadvantage because of the vaunted Democratic machine in Colorado? Or can Buck or Norton ride those same trends and strong Tea Party support to victory, reversing recent Democratic dominance and placing Colorado firmly back into “purple” territory?
3) The Tancredo Factor. Will the chaotic GOP primary between Scott McInnis (plagiarism) and Dan Maes (campaign fines) even matter with the entrance of Tom Tancredo as a third party candidate, effectively handing John Hickenlooper the governor’s seat without a battle? Or will the GOP earn a second chance, pending the primary winner’s decision to drop out after the primary, sending the Republican party in Colorado back to the drawing board and necessitating a vacancy committee to fill the GOP’s spot on the November ballot?