Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
Today, the series turns its attention to two Central states- Nebraska and Colorado.
Governor Pete Ricketts is up for reelection against some Democratic afterthought dude who is going to lose and keep this seat in Republican control. In the Senate race, Jane Raybould is fighting a daunting task trying to unseat Republican incumbent Deb Fischer. Thus far, her biggest attack has been the fact that Fischer did not join the Senate Agriculture Committee after Ben Sasse resigned from that Committee. That represented the first time in 50 some years Nebraska was not represented on that Committee. She has also been attacking Fischer using Trump’s trade policies claiming Fischer has abandoned the state’s farmers. Oh…and Fischer is supposedly gutting rural hospitals. Available polling shows a likely double digit Fischer victory come Election Day.
The Congressional delegation favors the GOP 3-0 and the only race of interest is in the Second District which will, on occasion, elect a Democrat. This year, their candidate is Kara Eastman who may be a little too far too the Left for even these Nebraskans. For his part, incumbent Don Bacon has been running ads attacking Eastman for her liberal views. For example, she supports the Big Three on the Democratic agenda: single-payer health care, Bernie Sanders’ “free” college for all, and rescinding the Trump tax cuts. These attacks thus far seem to be working as Bacon leads by a decent amount in scant polling thus far. It is no secret that the Democrats are trying to make inroads into so-called “flyover country,” but running a hard core liberal like Eastman is proving not to be a winning strategy. Hence, this writer expects no changes out of Nebraska come November.
For an open gubernatorial race, one is somewhat surprised there has not been more polling and coverage of this race. Democratic incumbent John Hicklenhooper is term-limited and some have mentioned him as a potential 2020 Presidential possibility. In fact, there are many rumors surfacing already to that effect and for his part, he has not deflected nor denied them.
Both parties staged competitive primaries with Jared Polis emerging the victor on the Democratic side and state treasurer Walker Stapleton on the Republican side. Stapleton, whose campaign was somewhat silent, came out swinging accusing Polis of being too liberal for Colorado. In fact, he had one of the most liberal voting records in the US House. The RGA has been running negative ads against Polis for months. One such ad accuses Polis of wanting to turn Colorado into a Rocky Mountain California. Stapleton’s most recent ad accuses Polis of wanting to raise taxes.
In those primaries- the first to allow independents to vote- they broke mainly for the Democrats. These recently enfranchised unaffiliated voters voted in record numbers and some returns showed them feeling a bit blue and liberal as they outpaced GOP voters by some 51,000, according to one source. In those competitive primaries, Democrats outpaced Republicans 56-44% overall. Key demographics favor the Democrats here. About 40% of the population holds a college degree and they are ranked the 12th most affluent state in the country. Further, they rank 7th in the country in Latino population with about 21% of the population. These are two groups that tend to vote Democratic.
In Stapleton’s favor may be Democratic fatigue. In Colorado, in the past 12 years the Governor has been a Democrat. One is not quite sure if voters in Colorado have shown that fatigue yet. For his part, Polis is a wealthy opponent worth about $400 million. By my estimations, that would put him in the 1%, a segment of society he and his ilk like to stigmatize. Hence, he has the resources to win this race. Originally, Polis held a decent edge in available polling, but Stapleton seems to be narrowing the gap as Election Day nears giving him some momentum. One is not quite sure of this race given these factors, but at this point- with a caveat to revisit the race at the end of this series, one would have to give the edge to Polis- a decision voters in Colorado may come to regret.
In Congressional races, which favor Republicans 4-3, the Democrats have come after Republican Scott Tipton in the Third District using a familiar strategy seen around the country. They are accusing him of being responsible for rising healthcare insurance premiums due to Republican opposition to Obamacare. They leave out two important facts: Obamacare is a net negative and Obamacare is responsible for those rising premiums. In conclusion, Tipton is safe and it would be a debacle for the GOP if he loses this seat which is basically on no one’s radar.
However, Republican Mike Coffman, who has carefully crafted a moderate image, may be in danger. Democrats regularly target this affluent suburban Denver seat and are regularly frustrated. In 2016, he easily won reelection against their strongest opponent even as the district veered somewhat heavily towards Hillary Clinton. That is, Coffman repeatedly outpaces the top of the GOP ticket.
His opponent is Army veteran Jason Crow who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also formerly served on the state Board of Veteran Affairs and Coffman had launched some attacks against him regarding his tenure. For example, just as the scandal was erupting regarding VA hospitals throughout the country, particularly Arizona, the NRCC ads note that Crow missed over a third of the state board’s meetings. Crow is explaining this away as the Board having no authority over VA hospitals and that their role is mainly one of advocacy for veterans and making recommendations to the state.
More troublesome for Crow is the fact that, as a lawyer, he represented Jonathan Saunders- corporate executive who later pleaded guilty to fraud involving a Texas VA hospital and identity theft. For his part, Crow is fighting back trying to dent the moderate veneer cultivated by Coffman. For example, he notes that Coffman has voted in favor of the Trump agenda 96% of the time in Congress, which is kind of strange since the Democrats are also quick to point out that Trump has no legislative agenda or achievements. Coffman also allegedly on record as agreeing with Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border although they are ambiguous as to whether this refers to family separation.
In another line of attack that should be familiar to anyone with a television set, the Democrats are attacking Coffman claiming he voted to eliminate healthcare for those with pre-existing conditions. This is a familiar line used elsewhere and, quite frankly, yet another blatant Democratic lie. As proof, the Democrats have been running ads regarding a town hall meeting where Coffman is seen allegedly dodging questions from constituents regarding healthcare. They also note he left the meeting early when there were many constituents in the lobby still waiting to confront Coffman. As this writer recalls, many of these town hall meetings turned into Astroturfed outrage sessions manufactured by the Left.
The Democrats readily acknowledge that Coffman is tough cookie to crack. In 2016, they thought they had the perfect and most formidable opponent to take him home and they were left with another disappointing defeat. Trying to link Coffman to Trump in a state where Trump suffers from not-so-good approval ratings may be the deciding factor this time. If they intend to make this race a referendum on Trump, they may have a chance.
The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund, a group funded by wealthy megadonors, recently announced they they are withdrawing funding in favor of Coffman arguing they are not throwing money at probable losing vulnerable Republicans. That $1 million loss is somewhat offset by a $600,000 commitment from the NRCC to defend this seat. Polling thus far indicates a Coffman loss, with the two most recent having him down by 11 points. That seems a little excessive and suspect. This series works from a worst-case-for-the-GOP scenario and unless something changes, this writer believes the political climate and the nature of the Sixth District may suggest a Coffman loss. Like the gubernatorial race, this race will be looked at again at the end of the series, but as of now I am putting it in the “D” column.
As of the conclusion of this entry, the numbers are as follows:
US Senate 18-18, US House 45-44 Republican, and Governors 11-7 Republican with 18 states down and 32 to go.
Tomorrow: Oregon and Connecticut