The 2016 map tends to favor Democrats when it comes to U.S. Senate races: there are 34 races this year, and Republicans have to defend 24 of them, including several in traditionally “blue” states. That said, GOP officials are not without targets of their own.
Arguably the most vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbent is Colorado’s Michael Bennet, who eked out a narrow win 2010 after having been appointed to the seat in 2009, and Republicans decided early in this cycle that his seat would be competitive.
All they would need is a candidate.
That turned out to be vastly more difficult than the GOP hoped, especially after many of the top-tier Republican contenders bowed out of consideration. The result was one of the year’s strangest primary contests, which, as the Denver Post reported, wrapped up last night in ways Democrats found very encouraging.
Darryl Glenn did it again. With little money and an all-volunteer staff, the county commissioner from El Paso shocked the Republican establishment again Tuesday by clinching the party’s nomination for U.S. Senate and earning a chance to unseat Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet in November.The resounding victory – called 30 minutes after polls closed – catapulted Glenn back into the spotlight after he won a surprising victory at the state GOP convention in April. This time, he defeated two self-funded millionaires and a party rising star to emerge with a double-digit victory over his closest competitor in a five-way race.
The article added this gem of a sentence: “The Election Night results capped a bizarre primary that featured a menagerie of chaos from forgery charges and millionaire candidates to an exploding toilet and a Great Dane named Duke.”
The Republican establishment had rallied behind Jon Keyser, a far-right former state lawmaker whose campaign struggled with ballot-access issues, and who ended up finishing a distant fourth out of five candidates. Darryl Glenn, however, enjoyed support from Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, and cruised to an easy win.
Winning in November, however, will be vastly more difficult.
Glenn is hysterically conservative – he’s vowed not to work with Democrats if he wins, and even most GOP officials consider him unelectable – and reportedly has about $50,000 in the bank. Republican campaign committees and their allies had high hopes about this race, but Glenn’s primary victory makes it highly unlikely that the party will invest considerable resources into this contest.
Indeed, the Washington Post reported this morning:
The last time they nominated a very conservative candidate to challenge Bennet in this swing state, they lost a winnable race in 2010. And it means Glenn’s Senate campaign will probably be almost entirely funded by tea party groups that made him a factor in this primary in the first place. A Republican political aide said Glenn probably can’t expect help from them in the general election.In other words, Senate Republicans are basically writing off Colorado.
And in the larger context, that’s not at all good news for the GOP. Republicans already face a challenge in holding onto their Senate majority, and every race will matter. The party has basically identified two “blue” seats they believe can be flipped to “red” – Colorado and Nevada – and as of last night, one of the two was effectively taken off the table by far-right Republican primary voters.