"Indecision may or may not be my problem."
- Jimmy Buffet
The Governor Line has been updated, though there isn't a whole lot to report. Marc Holtzman continues to move upward, but only because he is the only candidate actively doing anything that might get him elected in 2006. Scott McInnis has moved a little bit; we hear that his new bosses at his law firm job may not be thrilled with his work, so McInnis may need something else to do (as casual as that sounds, it really may play a role). Bob Beauprez continues to drop, because we think he'd only run if the Republican Party looked like it really needed him, and right now it doesn't.
Holtzman recently spoke to the House Minority Caucus, and as we have reported first here at Colorado Pols, he has already been raising money, polling, and doing focus group research on himself and his message. There is still plenty of time left in this race, but Mike Coffman and Jane Norton will need to start moving soon or face being steamrolled by a Republican opponent who is learning and growing every week.
This brings us to a point that is something we feel has plagued politicians in Colorado, and particularly Democrats, for years: inexplicable indecision.
There has long been a school of thought in politics here that it is good practice to wait things out and see how the field develops, but mini-Marc Holtzman (he's about 5-5" in shoes, for those of you who haven't ever seen him) is proving our point that this is the wrong move in today's politics. Many Democrats are waiting around hoping to be tapped on the shoulder and given the red carpet treatment, much like what happened for Ken Salazar last summer, as though it's just going to happen again.
But the primary reason Salazar emerged in the Democratic field is because he was bold, strong and aggressive. He decided to run last March and didn't look back, and as a result the field cleared out for him (with the exception of Mike Miles, who couldn't raise enough money to even be competitive).
Now, Mark Udall, Rutt Bridges, and Bill Ritter (and to a lesser extent, John Hickenlooper) are standing around playing chicken with each other waiting to see who will make the first move - except that they are all chickens. The first person to publicly announce a decision - or even to start running full steam ahead privately - will make the decision to run harder on the other three. Look what Holtzman is doing; the longer Norton and Coffman wait to actively run, the harder it will be for them to catch up, and the more doubts creep into their heads in the meantime.
Take Bill Ritter, for example. Ritter really wants to run for Governor, and he just finished up his term as Denver District Attorney so he has some time on his hands. But instead of making the rounds and the calls he needs to make, he's reportedly just "taking a break" and waiting to start his new job with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (the same firm where Scott McInnis got a job). But why? Ritter could be raising money and gathering support without having to compete with other Democrats who haven't decided to run, but instead he's sitting around watching the days pass him by. The real crime in this is that Ritter is not the frontrunner, even though he might think he is, and if he has to jump in the race after Bridges, Udall, or Hickenlooper, he will have a hard time being anything other than the other candidate. If he started running now, the other, albeit stronger candidates, would still have to play catch up.
Mark Udall has become the poster child for indecision in Colorado. He could have had the U.S. Senate nomination last year, but he backed out not once, but twice (after initially declining to run against Nighthorse Campbell months before he announced that he would retire). Udall could have the Democratic nomination to himself for Governor right now, but he can't make a decision to run. There are only so many variables to consider, and most of them aren't going to change much with time. What is he waiting for? You only get so many opportunities to clear the field in a statewide race, and Udall is on the verge of blowing it TWICE.
Samuel Johnson once said: "Courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others."
Where the Governor candidates are concerned, he couldn't be more right.