CO-Sen: Primary Challenge Pushes Bennett Left
by Nathan Empsall, Mon Mar 22, 2010 at 06:58:34 PM EDT
Former state house Speaker Andrew Romanoff seems to be the progressive favorite in the Colorado Democratic Senate primary, but Senator Michael Bennett’s worth another look. The freshman Senator is still deciding what type of lawmaker and candidate he wants to be, and Romanoff’s challenge is helping push him to the left.
This cycle’s health insurance fight is drawing to a close, but let’s not stick it away in the back of our memories just yet. Alan Grayson wasn’t the only progressive hero to step forward. Across the Capitol, it was Bennett who took the lead in fighting for a public option via reconciliation and organized 23 other senators to join him.
But you already knew that. Here’s what’s new: 22 Senators, including Bennett, have signed Tom Udall’s letter to Harry Reid emphasizing the link between job creation and comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. The 22 are pushing for a floor vote on the issue this year to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the short calendar shuffle amidst immigration, financial regulation, and other job reform measures. It seems that Bennett is showing as much progressive spine on the environment as he did on health care, even in his purple state.
At the moment, Romanoff does better in general election match-ups than does Bennett from both PPP and Rasmussen. Part of this is due to the fact that Bennett was appointed, not elected, to his office, and 22 percent of voters don’t know enough about him to have an opinion one way or the other. That means, however, that unlike most incumbents, he still has time to define himself, and would likely do better in November than currently seems.
Both Romanoff and Bennett have the burden of the incumbent Democratic label, but only one would get to use the positive tools of the office. I don’t know enough about Romanoff to pick one candidate over the other, but I will say that his push from the left sure is helping Bennett be a better Senator (as David Sirota predicted it would). Don’t count Bennett out yet, and be a lot happier about him now than you were a year ago.