The real loser in Tuesday’s Colorado caucuses wasn’t Sen. Bennet. It was Sen. Bennett.
Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-Colo.) 50-41 loss to Democratic rival Andrew Romanoff shows what an activist-driven process can do to an incumbent in this environment.
People in general are mad at Washington, and that goes triple for the activist base. Yes, Bennet is an appointee who has no real connection to that activist base, but he is still a sitting United States senator. And nearly six in 10 activists voted against him Tuesday in what amounted to a party-sanctioned straw poll that will help determine positioning on the ballot.
Those who voted for Romanoff were hardly voting for a liberal lion in the mold of past caucus winners; in fact, it’s been tough to discern many real differences between Bennet and Romanoff. Romanoff, it seems, benefited from his years of involvement in the party and his positioning as the outsider candidate.
Given that, it seems more than reasonable that a group of ultra-conservative Utah Republicans could vote out their Bennett — a man who has inflamed the base with his bailout vote and healthcare proposal.
And unfortunately for that Bennett, the choice of those activists could be binding.
In Utah’s GOP nomination convention, the field of candidates is winnowed down to two through a multi-ballot process. Once it gets there, a candidate can win the party’s nomination outright by taking at least 60 percent of the vote.