Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CD2 musings from a CD1 resident

The Rocky has a relative puff piece on Will Shafroth that is just out. It opens thusly,

The attacks are flying in the Democratic primary race for the 2nd congressional district, with Jared Polis now lobbing daily bombs against rival Joan Fitz-Gerald and Fitz-Gerald's campaign responding with criticisms of their own.

Left unscathed: Will Shafroth, another candidate in the three-person race left untargeted by his opponents and who has refrained from tarring the others.

It's a high road Shafroth is taking — a "conscious decision," he said — but also one that leaves him in danger of losing headlines to his two opponents who seem more willing to mix it up.

It continues on in that vein for a bit. The author notably leaves out the fact that Shafroth actually filed formal charges with the FEC against Polis in March alleging criminal misconduct,

Shafroth, a Boulder conservationist, is asking the FEC to investigate Polis' "lack of transparency and failure to disclose required information." The complaint accuses Polis of neglecting to list the employer and occupation of 42 donors who gave $49,000 to his campaign. It also says Polis did not disclose how he spent $30,084 of in-kind expenses.

The 2nd CD is an interesting race, I really don't have a feel for how it is going to come out. Is the conventional wisdom that this is Fitz-Gerald's race to lose really on target? My gut tells me that Polis' money and massive ad buys win this for him in the end. But then there is Shafroth, can he run a sneak right up the middle of these two?

I think Shafroth falls short. Unfortunately I feel like his base of support (the more progressive wing of the party) is likely being split with Polis. Polis' big financial advantage gives him a media and field organization advantage. He can buy more media, he can pay more field staff and not have to rely solely on volunteers and he can execute a more sophisticated ground strategy.

All of that said I'm pulling for Will to at least Polis. To me the event that signifies the essence of Jared Polis is the Amendment 41 fiasco. It demonstrates to me very poor judgment, he was warned repeatdely that Amendment 41 would cause far more problems than it would solve and he backed it anyway. There's two ways to read that decision, neither good for Polis. First possibility, Jared Polis didn't truly grasp the language of the amendment and far-reaching consequences of its enactment and actually though A41 was a good idea. Second possibility, Polis was blinded by the political opportunity he thought this would provide him and ignored the warnings to better his chances in the then forthcoming CD2 primary. I don't think either of these speak particularly well of Polis judgment.

After A41 passed and it became apparent that the predictions were right on target Polis then ran out and hired a stable of expensive lobbyists, political consultants and lawyers to clean up his mess. This was the most infuriating aspect of his behavior in the whole sordid mess to me. After spending months demonizing lobbyists, legislators and state workers as incurably corrupt animals that must be segregated from the public this seemed to me and many others to be quite a display of arrogant hypocrisy.

There have been other issues with Polis that to me serve as warning flags (a million spent to eek out a School Board seat?) but the A41 debacle really solidified my low opinion of Polis' political acumen.

So what of Fitz-Gerald? I like her a lot as a person from what little I know her. I also like her political skills tremendously from the bit of time I have worked alongside her and against her on various issues. She is, to me, a tremendous politician. She can out-maneuver any politician under that dome, whether they office on the 1st Floor or the 2nd. From a policy perspective she can at times be too cautious for my tastes but given her political skills I think she's worth rolling the dice on. Presiding over the state Senate in Colorado requires one set of skills to survive and flourish. In Mark Udall's seat, representing the 2nd Congressional District I think she will be free to be more unabashed in her policy positions. She has the political skill to be a successful Congresswoman and, I think, have more effect on the Democratic agenda in D.C. than either of her opponents who are both political neophytes.

So in the end I suppose I favor Fitz-Gerald, would not have reservations about Will Shafroth getting elected and would consider a Polis victory an unmitigated disaster.

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