Friday, May 29, 2009

Haners' Top 5 Primary Picks

Below is a list of the Top 5 Primaries that I will be watching both here in El Paso County and around Colorado. Much like the Washington Post's "Friday Line", I hope this will generate some discussion. Do you agree with my picks? Disagree? Do you have any primaries that you're watching? Please let me know!

5. Nominations for high office don’t get much more open then the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate currently being sought by Councilman Ryan Frazier, District Attorney Ken Buck, and random businessman Cleve Tidwell and is being explored by others. Given the current openness of the field, whoever emerges as the winner will have done so based largely off of hard work, ingenuity, and a little bit of luck-the stuff great stories are made of.

4. Why isn’t this race further up the list? While a primary race between teacher Scott McInnis and rising star student Josh Penry would be extremely intriguing, it has yet to come to fruition. Senator Penry is still looking at the race, but it is difficult to gauge the probability that he will jump in. If he does, this race will move up the list. If not, McInnis will probably get his chance to run statewide after declining or being talked out of doing so in the past.

3. While observers differ on the vulnerability of freshman Representative Betsy Markey, there isn’t a shortage of solid Republican candidates looking at the race. With candidates Diggs Brown, Tom Lucero, and Cory Gardner staying positive to this point and likely agreeing on many of the major issues this race may seem somewhat sleepy. But make no mistake: each candidate has solid bases of support and a legitimate claim to the nomination so their organizational, fundraising, and political skills will be the determining factor when all is said and done-thus making this an extremely interesting primary to watch.

2. Lost in most media outlets is the primary between incumbent state Senator Dave Schultheis and retired businessman and blogger Thomas McDowell for Senate District 9. While Schultheis has been controversial from time to time, he really stepped in it this year by being the one person in the Senate to vote against a bill to require HIV testing for expectant mothers in an effort to keep the unborn child from getting the disease. If not wanting to protect babies from getting HIV wasn’t bad enough, he didn’t help himself by stating that his reasons for doing so was because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and that we shouldn’t “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor and unacceptable behavior.” (Is that what being pro-life means? Punish the baby for a parent’s mistake?) That among other things has compelled McDowell to get into the race, and it seems that he is running hard. The interesting thing about this race is that while Sen. Schultheis may be vulnerable, Mr. McDowell is running as an avowed moderate in a highly conservative district, and I am interested to see which the Republican primary voters in SD9 dislike more: a conservative incumbent who wants babies to get AIDS, or the avowed moderate alternative.

1. Republicans are lining up at the chance to replace term limited Commissioner Jim Bensberg (R), with House District 16 Chairman Patrick Carter and former UCCS Student Body President David Williams being announced candidates, and State Board of Education member Peggy Littleton, former Commissioner Ed Jones, and Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera all eyeing the race(anyone else?!). If he jumps in, Ed Jones will almost have to be considered the front runner but only by the narrowest of margins, thus leaving the field relatively open. Not only will this primary be close, but the eventual nominee could possibly face Democrat Mike Merrifield for a competitive election campaign for an extremely marginal seat in the heart of El Paso County.


  1. I don't think, in my three months of walking precincts, that I have mentioned the HIV vote or uproar surrounding it to a single voter. It doesn't appear in my flyer or on my campaign site. I may use it for campaign contributions purposes if I choose, but ordinary voters won't see that.

    Most voters I talk to don't know who Schultheis is, let alone about that vote. It is hard to see, if I don't talk about it, how the it will play any role in the contest.

    My issue is the damage that a small group of social conservatives, including Schulthies, have done to the party by insisting that the choice is between a "pure" Party or being content to be in the minority. Elected officials don't have the right to choose not to want to be in the majority and shouldn't claim they do.

    That issue resonates with the voters BIG TIME because they understand that they will pay big taxes and watch government grow if Republicans don't find a way to get their majorities back in at least one house.

    Like most fiscal conservatives, the pro-life vs pro-choice issue isn't one I care greatly about. My precinct walking suggests that 10% of the voters in more affluent neighborhoods and 20% in other neighborhoods do care about that issue and won't vote for me on that basis. The rest, and there are a lot of social conservatives among them, want a united party. They are taken aback by the fact that Schultheis doesn't care if he is in the majority.

    The interesting thing is that if Schultheis disappeared from the scene and was replaced by another social conservative, I could run the same campaign against him/her. No one has had the courage to object publicly to an all or nothing social conservative election strategy or criticize those who have employed it. That leaves that issue to me. I think it is a winner.

    Thanks for the well written comment. I am available if you want to write about the contest again.

    Tom McDowell

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