It's Never Too Early for 2008...Part 3

December 2006
I've already taken an early look at the 2008 U.S. Senate race, as well as every other congressional race save for two: CD-5 and CD-6. But before we get to that, I should make an addendum to the U.S. Senate race projection. Based on what I hear from Republicans, it is very unlikely that incumbent Sen. Wayne Allard will run again for re-election; it is so unlikely, in fact, that many potential Republican candidates are moving ahead as though Allard will not be there. Okay, onto CD-5 and CD-6… CD-5 (Colorado Springs) For the first time in more than a decade, residents in and around Colorado Springs were able to take part in a real, honest-to-goodness congressional campaign in 2006. State Sen. Doug Lamborn emerged from a hotly contested six-way Republican primary to face Democrat Jay Fawcett in a race that pundits thought would be much closer than the final 20-point victory for Lamborn. Expect more of the same, sort of, in 2008. Lamborn will likely face another Republican primary in two years because of the nastiness surrounding the 2006 primary, where his campaign alienated many Republican voters. Jeff Crank, who came in second in the primary, will probably take another shot at Lamborn, and there could be one or two others as well. The only way Lamborn would not have to face another primary is if he is able to a) distinguish himself as a strong congressman in one term, and 2) raise enough money to scare off potential challengers. I don't see either happening because Lamborn doesn't have the benefit of being in a Republican majority in congress. And then there is Fawcett. He might consider taking another shot in 2008, but I think it would be a fool's errand to do so. If we learned anything from 2006 (which we probably knew anyway), it is that CD-5 is just not winnable for a Democrat – not yet, anyway. Fawcett was a strong candidate with a solid military background (in a military district), and he faced off against a Republican candidate with no military background who had angered many other GOP voters with a divisive primary. To top it all off, 2006 saw a Democratic wave sweep over the entire country. With all of those factors in place, Fawcett still lost to Lamborn by 20 points. Maybe he can make some adjustments here or there that would help him pick up a few percentage points in 2008, but there's really no conceivable way that he could suddenly pick up 11 points. Democrats just aren't going to win this seat until the demographics change somewhat; they face a 2-to-1 disadvantage in voter registration, and there's just too many diehard GOP voters that aren't persuadable. CD-6 Incumbent Republican Tom Tancredo will probably hold this seat until he decides to move on to other things…which he may do in 2008. There's been a lot of talk of Tancredo running for the U.S. Senate in two years, and it's really not outlandish to think that the outspoken congressman could be in the mix. Tancredo could win a Republican primary, and if he did that, national Republicans would be forced to back him in a general election. It makes sense, and he just might do it. If Tancredo runs for re-election instead, then we don't have anything to talk about unless Democrats come up with a really good candidate (sorry, Bill Winter). But if Tancredo does make the leap, there will be a free-for-all among GOP contestants looking to stick their noses into the ring. Right-wing Republican pot stirrer (and former Senate President) John Andrews would almost certainly run, as would state Sen. Ted Harvey and longtime Republican operative Mark Baisley (who ran as a Republican in CD-7 in 2002). State Sen. Tom Wiens might also take a shot, but the most interesting name for discussion would be new Secretary of State Mike Coffman. It's no secret that Coffman wants to run for something bigger than Secretary of State, and a CD-6 primary might be right up his alley. He'd have a tough sell for Republicans, however, because if he won he would hand the secretary of state office to the Democrats. In an open race for CD-6 there's little chance that a Republican wouldn't ultimately win in November because the district favors Republican voters by a 2-to-1 margin. The GOP doesn't need Coffman to win this seat, but if he wanted to do it anyway and he won, Democrat Bill Ritter would get to appoint a Democrat as his replacement in the secretary of state's office. Coffman could end up as the new congressman from CD-6, but the overall effect for Republicans would be a net loss in Colorado. What about the Democrats in CD-6? Failed 2006 candidate Bill Winter wanted to make this a two or three term effort, but he performed so poorly in 2006 that he doesn't have much to build upon. He also alienated many potential Democratic supporters, so he wouldn't likely get much financial support if he decided to run again. On the other hand, there aren't a lot of other potential Democratic candidates in an area that primarily elects Republicans to state legislative offices. The Democrats' best bet might be to take someone like Fawcett and run him in CD-6, where he would have a better chance than he would if he ran again in CD-5.