Two years after he left the House to honor his pledge of “three terms-I’m-out” and barely a week after Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R.-Col.) dropped the political bombshell that he was retiring this year, Bob Schaffer looms large as the probable Republican Senate nominee in the Centennial State.
“I’m running and the phone is ringing off the hook!” a breathless Schaffer told HUMAN EVENTS, as he hastily cobbled together a campaign from his home in Fort Collins. The stalwart conservative lawmaker, who once made headlines by refusing to attend the State of the Union address because Bill Clinton was delivering it shortly after his impeachment, said he is now being helped by “volunteers only” but he soon expected to hire a campaign manager and press secretary. Among those weighing in for him before the Colorado primary is former Sen. Bill Armstrong, easily his state’s most respected conservative.
As Schaffer worked to mobilize a campaign to succeed the more moderate Campbell, freshman Rep. Bob Beauprex announced he would seek re-election rather than make a Senate bid — as fellow Republican and Gov. Bill Owens urged him to do last week (Owens himself had been mentioned for the Senate, but announced last week he would remain in the State Capitol). Sources on Capitol Hill told us that Beauprex, had been under tremendous pressure from House GOP Leaders to remain in the House who feared that any other Republican would lose the district Beauprex won in the closest-in-the nation House race two years ago. Reportedly, the freshman lawmaker is now in line for the coveted seat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee now held by fellow Republican Rep. Scott McInnis, who is retiring.
Both McInnis and another Republican House Member, Tom Tancredo, say they are still contemplating a Senate race. However, most pundits and pols in Colorado say that — aside from the fact that both broke their pledge to step down after three terms and are thus vulnerable to an independent expenditure campaign from U.S. Term Limits — McInnis and Tancredo are more likely than not to pass on the race because of the early movement toward Schaffer.
While Republicans could conceivably unite behind Schaffer in the weeks ahead, Democrats have already closed ranks behind their probable standard-bearer — two-term State Attorney General Ken Salazar, who last week declared his candidacy flanked by most of the other Democrats who had been seriously eying the race (including Rep. Mark Udall, who announced and then withdrew to endorse Salazar in a matter of 48 hours).