Colorado liberals are liking Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar a whole lot better this week, since his forceful stand against the radical right and evangelical leader James Dobson.

Members of the political left say they’re heartened to see Colorado’s mild-mannered moderate come out swinging against Colorado Springs- based Focus on the Family about judicial nominees and the role of religion in politics.

Dobson plans revenge, but one political analyst says it will be for naught.

“He had the guts to stand up and say, ‘Hold on here,”‘ said veteran Washington watcher Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “This has given him a place in this debate, which you wouldn’t usually find for a freshman.”

Other analysts agree:

He stunned me,” said Larry Sabato, political science professor at the University of Virginia. “I think this guy is more tenacious and determined than his demeanor might suggest. He has the ability to throw political caution to the wind,” said Jim Gibson, president of the centrist Colorado Democratic Leadership Council.