And flailing horribly in the primary.
Shumer’s “Great White Hopes” of the US Senate races this year are Amy McGrath in Kentucky and John Hickenlooper in Colorado, and things are not going well fore either of them.
Amy McGrath, who has a compelling life story but little in the way of policy, has had a terrible horrible no good very bad week.
The largest papers in the state endorsed her primary opponent Charles Booker, as has Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is part of the Democratic Party aristocracy in the state. (Useless, but all aristocracy is useless)
I’m thinking that her deer in the headlights performance when asked about police protests in the last debate which was lame beyond belief: (See vid)
Remember Amy McGrath? Maybe you do. In 2018, the Kentucky Democrat was briefly famous for a viral campaign ad and an ultimately doomed campaign to represent her state’s Sixth Congressional District. A moderate and a former Marine fighter pilot, McGrath is the apotheosis of a particular Democratic electoral strategy: to win in a conservative state, dispatch a veteran with lukewarm politics. That strategy didn’t put McGrath in the House in 2018. But two years later, Senate Democrats tried it again, pitting McGrath against a top prize: Mitch McConnell.
Now she might be lucky to win her primary race.
McGrath faces a robust challenge from Charles Booker, the youngest Black legislator in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Booker has run to her left, and while McGrath holds a major fundraising advantage, Booker is gaining significant momentum ahead of the primary on June 23. Two of the state’s largest newspapers have endorsed him, and on Tuesday, Booker earned another major supporter. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who challenged McConnell in 2014, endorsed him over McGrath.Proud to endorse my friend @Booker4KY for U.S. Senate in the Kentucky Democratic Primary! Together, let’s elect a new generation of leadership in KY! #Booker4KY https://t.co/mv7TymBLIe pic.twitter.com/PsD43HrcEt
— Alison Lundergan Grimes (@AlisonForKY) June 16, 2020
The Grimes endorsement might be the clearest sign yet that McGrath is in real trouble. Booker already had the backing of a number of progressive politicians and groups, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, but Grimes is no leftist. She’s firmly part of the Kentucky Democratic Establishment, which makes her endorsement something of a surprise — and an unignorable vote of no confidence in McGrath. The retired Marine is backed by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, but locals are less convinced.
Her life story failed to defeat a vulnerable Republican Representative in the last election, and she has added nothing to her toolbox.
And then there is John Hickenlooper in Colorado, whose campaign is turning into a horror show, even if you ignore the fact that he literally drank a glass of fracking fluid to demonstrate his support for the fossil fuel industry.
Now, in addition to his record, we have his his being fined for serious ethical violations as well as having made jokes about slavery, both of which are EXTREMELY problematic in the current moment:
Democrats’ best pickup opportunity in their battle for the majority in the U.S. Senate has suddenly been complicated by not one but two unforced errors from their star candidate in Colorado, former governor John Hickenlooper. But it’s not clear whether either or both are enough to turn the tide of the race in favor of Republicans. The two controversies:
- An independent ethics commission in Colorado said Hickenlooper violated state law on gifts when he was governor in 2018 by accepting rides on a private jet and, separately, in a Maserati limousine.
- He appeared to compare a job as a political scheduler to the slave trade, in 2014 comments that were unearthed Monday. His campaign immediately apologized for them. “Imagine an ancient slave ship,” he said, “with the guy with the whip, and you’re rowing. We elected officials are the ones that are rowing.”
The first controversy carries a more immediate impact for Hickenlooper. The commission, which was set up as part of an anti-graft law Colorado voters approved more than a decade ago, fined him almost $3,000 for the luxury rides as he was traveling as governor. The commission also held him in contempt for not showing up for the first day of video hearings even though he was subpoenaed.
Hickenlooper’s most immediate contest is a June 30 primary. He’s facing Andrew Romanoff, a former Colorado House speaker, who has his supporters but is not seen as a major threat to Hickenlooper. Romanoff is campaigning on Hickenlooper’s left in support of Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal and has the support of some younger, liberal activists. (But no endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or his liberal allies in Congress.)
That may still be the case, given how late Hickenlooper’s ethics violation is coming in the primary and how much Hickenlooper has been billed as the best candidate to beat Gardner among Democrats. Romanoff is trying to leverage Hickenlooper’s ethics troubles to reverse that narrative. “He represents a threat we cannot afford,” Romanoff told The Washington Post recently.
I am not sure how much Romanoff is a long shot. Romanoff won the Democratic Party endorsement at the state convention, though that does not count for much in the primary.
Still, this raises serious questions about Hickenlooper’s electability, which is really the only reason to vote for him, because, as I have noted before, he literally drank a glass of fracking fluid to demonstrate his support for the fossil fuel industry.