The 2014 midterm election cycle was a Throwback Tuesday to the 2004 presidential election. The Democrats blew it with their finesse game. The Republicans are way better at campaigning using brute force and they have way more money.
The big quasi surprise was Mark Udall getting defeated. I think it was largely at his own hand. His ground game wasn’t good enough. I think if he had Obama come to Denver and Boulder, that would have been positive for him. Nationally, the Democrats bought into the Republican anti-Obama story. Instead of staying home, president should have been been out there making whistle stops. I don’t care what anyone says, when the President of the US shows up it is a BFD!
Udall let Gardner position his campaign as single issue, which it wasn’t. Udall originally was elected because of his name. He was a political carpetbagger when he first came to Boulder and ran for the U.S. House. Gardner did a good job framing Udall as a career politician with no heart.
Gardner played the “grandma card” and the “tractor card” which both played well. Plus he was only joshing about his past personhood and anti-women views. Udall didn’t show any emotion. He followed the Gore and Kerry playbooks which talked about data and votes and little about his story and about his vision for the country.
I did see a blog post on his campaign site about he being a kid in the southwest, but that didn’t do anything to show him “in touch” with Colorado. Same thing happened to John Kerry when Bush shaped the election and Kerry just followed along with being painted as a rich kid and a swift boater.
The Bill and Hillary road show helped close the gap for Udall, but their star power is fading. The Clintons showed up in Kentucky many times but Alison Grimes was thoroughly stomped there by Mitch McConnell.
Hickenlooper eked one out. That should be a wake up call. He tried to keep everyone happy, but ended up ticking everyone off. Bob Beauprez playing the “mass murderer” card backfired. I imagine families in Colorado would feel safer without edible marijuana on the market. Both Ways Bob is a sore loser and likely waiting for a recount before conceding.
Meanwhile, in Wyoming – the Republicans held serve. The state legislature lost a Democrat in Lee Filer from Cheyenne, but picked up Charles Pelky from Laramie. I think the mix in the Wyoming State House of Representatives is 51 Red to 9 Blue. The Democratic Party in Wyoming doesn’t have a candidate grooming strategy. The Tea Party, on the other hand, is good at making all politics local by getting their folks to get on city parks boards and planning commissions. In Jefferson County, Colorado, the conservative majority members of the school board were sneaked in there and nobody really noticed until the recent flap over the move towards revisionist history.
In Wyoming, if a person gets elected to any office or appointed to a board or commission, it makes them immediately available for other elective offices. Former Mayor turned State Legislator Del McOmie at out a cycle or two and was elected as mayor Lander for his second go-around. He’s thoughtful and asks around before he makes decisions. When I worked for him it was during some tough times – the U.S. Steel mine closed, the bottom dropped out of the uranium market just after the 3-Mile Island meltdown. I hope he resurfaces in statewide politics again.
Senate Majority Leader In Waiting Mitch McConnell has been talking big after the election and it doesn’t sound like there will be any conciliatory offers. He’s already threatening Obama on immigration reform. Working with the Democrats, according to McConnell, is total capitulation to the GOP perspective. I don’t see much happening in the next two years. I doubt there will be any meaningful conference committees unless a bunch of Republicans break ranks – which is what happened when the Democrats had control of both houses. Not much got done when congress was controlled by Democrats either.
I can hardly wait until 2016 to hear about why Hillary and Jeb both are too extreme for my own good.