If Marilyn Musgrave loses her Congressional seat this November, one of the reasons for her departure will likely be her cozy relationship with President Bush. The highly circulated photo of the president planting a smooch on her forehead remains a popular (and supposedly telling) image among her detractors. Musgrave’s challenger, Betsy Markey, won’t be courting her own beneficent peck on the head from her party’s presidential hopeful when Senator Obama arrives in Denver in a few weeks. Despite a report earlier last week in the the D.C. Congressional newspaper, The Hill, Markey isn’t planning on hanging around at the party convention.
Distinguished as “a top Democratic hope” in the article, Markey was among just seven out of thirty surveyed Congressional challengers who, according to the article, plans to show up at the convention. Markey wouldn’t have much of a commute to Denver from her campaign HQ in Fort Collins, but her campaign says The Hill entirely overemphasized the candidate’s convention-week plans. “She’ll definitely be at the speech at Invesco, but the bulk of the time she’ll be in the district, with the voters,” says Markey campaign spokesman Ben Marter. “We’re certainly excited to have the convention–it’s going to be great for the local economy–but it doesn’t help us with the Fourth Congressional District.” Aaron Blake of The Hill writes that many challengers and freshman lawmakers, particularly those in conservative districts, were staying at home to work the streets, rather than basking in Obamarama. “In an anti-Washington and an anti-incumbent environment, showing up at your political party’s national convention is a dicey proposition for candidates in either party,” writes Blake. Colorado’s Fourth District certainly qualifies as conservative: Markey is the third opponent in four campaigns who will try to bring down Musgrave. Despite the Republican’s incumbency, the Rothenberg Political Report recently listed the race as a toss-up, after previously considering it a Republican leaner. Marter says Markey, who is not a delegate, isn’t trying to avoid any closeups with or kisses from Senator Obama or any other Democratic officials. Instead, she’s focusing on her own campaign and its importance for the state and the nation. (Musgrave, who just entertained Dick Cheney at a fundraiser in Littleton this week, clearly isn’t worried about contentious closeups.) “After the [Mark Udall-Bob Schaffer] Senate race, obviously, this is the Congressional race in Colorado,” Marter says. Udall will be attending the convention; he is, however, a superdelegate.