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« Dems' Tough Road In MS | Blog Home Page | Morning Thoughts: Eight-Way Tie »

Dems Race To Replace Udall

As the Denver Post reports, an interesting dynamic is taking place in the race for the Democratic nomination in Colorado's 2nd District. The candidates, vying to replace Rep. Mark Udall, who is running for the Senate, are battling each other for the backing of wealthy gay activist groups and donors.

Former Colorado School Board chair Jared Polis, who is gay, has the backing of Wisconsin Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. But former State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, who helped put a referendum on the state ballot in 2006 to provide similar legal rights to same sex couples that married couples have, is giving Polis a run for his money among gay activists.

Scott Coors, nephew of beer magnate and former Republican Senate candidate Pete Coors and is openly gay, recently hosted a fundraiser for Fitz-Gerald; and activist Tim Gill has endorsed her. Gill has spent tons of his own money fighting anti-gay marriage amendments and campaigns around the country.

A third candidate vying for the Democratic nomination, environmentalist Will Shafroth, is the great-grandson of John Shafroth, a former Governor, Senator and Congressman from Colorado. Shafroth, who's reportedly running his campaign out of the barn in his backyard, is planning to petition his way onto the primary ballot, as Udall did in 1998, rather than go through the party caucus. His experience in environmental issues and conservationism could win him the support of Democratic voters hoping for a successor with similar interests to Udall, co-chair of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus.

Fitz-Gerald has earned most of the establishment support, while Polis earned the attention of the netroots by visiting Iraq last month and contributed to popular liberal blogs. All three candidates have raised gobs of money. Polis led with more than $550,000, followed by Fitz-Gerald at about $450,000 and Shafroth at $425,000, through the third quarter.

The 2nd District includes the city of Boulder, home to the free-spirited surroundings of the University of Colorado. John Kerry won 58% here against President Bush in 2004, and Udall's past two Republican opponents have failed to surpass 30% of the vote. The congressional primaries in Colorado are not until August 12, 2008, so the competition for this seat should be long, interesting and expensive, and the winner more than likely will also win in the general election.

-- Kyle Trygstad