Some guy named Wayne Wolf is running for the U.S. Senate, and I say good for him. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Wolf was scheduled to announce his candidacy today:
A Delta County commissioner whose roots in Colorado go back five generations wants to take on former Congressman Bob Schaffer for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate.
Wayne Wolf, 56, acknowledged a “little David-and-Goliath kind of thing” in challenging a better-known and better-funded opponent.
“The thing I like about that story is who won,” Wolf said Monday.
Wolf will make an announcement at noon Wednesday at the old Mesa County Courthouse in downtown Grand Junction.
“I think people ought to have a choice,” Wolf said, when asked why he was thinking of running against Schaffer. “I know it’s a huge undertaking. I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I know who the favorites are.”
Schaffer said he believes he has met Wolf twice before and remembers him “as a nice man.”
“I admire people like Mr. Wolf who take their concern about their state and country so seriously that they consider running for office themselves,” Schaffer said.
But Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said Schaffer already has built a “tremendous” campaign and and raised $717,000 in just six weeks.
“Until someone shows they can equal that, as far as I’m concerned, we have a de facto nominee,” Wadhams said.
Wolf probably has as good a chance being elected President as he does making it past Schaffer as the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate, but that doesn’t mean he should be dismissed by the chair of his own party. Wadhams basically told Republicans with this quote that they have their candidate in Schaffer and they’re going to like it, and that’s not right.
I understand what Wadhams is trying to do here – he wants to make sure to give the impression that Republicans aren’t going to have a serious, divisive primary on their hands. Wolf isn’t going to win, and he might not even make it on to the ballot at the end of the day, but Wadhams should have at least had the class to give the response that Schaffer gave. What kind of a political party leader publicly ridicules the chances of his own fellow Republican? Just say, “We welcome Mr. Wolf to the race and wish him well.”
Wolf received a similar response from brief Senate candidate and former congressman Scott McInnis in The Grand Junction Sentinel:
Former Grand Junction Congressman Scott McInnis said Delta County Commissioner Wayne Wolf’s decision to vie for the Republican nomination for outgoing Sen. Wayne Allard’s seat could be bad for the party.
McInnis, who was briefly the only Republican candidate in the 2008 Senate race, said Wolf’s candidacy could prove more of a “distraction” than an asset for the Colorado GOP next year.
“I think he’s a fine guy,” McInnis said. “I’m just worried at this point that a primary is going to serve as a distraction to the primary target, which is Mark Udall, and that the Republicans, in order to be victorious in that race, have to, if they can, avoid a primary and get behind one candidate.”…
…McInnis said the Republican primary battles between Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer in the 2004 Senate race and Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman in the 2006 gubernatorial race showed how problematic intra-party contests can be. He said it would be unfortunate for the party if Wolf’s candidacy proved problematic for Schaffer’s second bid for the U.S. Senate.
McInnis, who has announced his support for Schaffer, said Wolf could, in his earnest attempt to promote Western Slope issues, “hurt the ticket.”
Republican party bigwigs don’t have to support Wolf in his run for the Senate, but they also don’t have to kick sand in his face, either. Back-room discussions happen all the time in politics where party leaders try to prevent primaries from happening, but once somebody has decided to run, they should at least be respectful.
I’m a little surprised to see Republicans pulling this kind of stunt again because of how bad it went the last time they tried it. There were a lot of hard feelings caused in recent elections when officials tried to promote one candidate over the other, most recently last year when then-GOP Chair Bob Martinez publicly backed Bob Beauprez for governor and said that Marc Holtzman should get out of the race. The role of a party chair is to represent THE PARTY, not just some people in the party.