With Jim Polsfut and Joanna Conti taking a pass on the 7th CD, is there renewed incentive for freshman State Representative Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) to jump in? Seeing how it is only May of 2005, there is plenty of time for her to make that assessment.
It's no secret Rep. Carroll was thinking of joining the fray earlier this year, frustrated that her pet legislative projects were being sacrificed on the altar of House Speaker Andrew Romanoff's single-minded agenda (that's life in the shadow of the master strategist). With four Democrats in the race, however, it didn't make sense for Carroll to join an already crowded field.
Both Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm carry with them significant baggage; votes, positions and professional work that will make party activists wince. As long as the race remains between Lamm and Perlmutter, their respective baggage is likely to cancel the other's out, for the most part. This could signal a potentially negative and bruising primary as Lamm and Perlmutter compete for the hearts and minds of the party's faithful by defining their opponent as politically suspect. Could Morgan Carroll exploit this opportunity by sneaking up the middle while Lamm and Perlmutter mud-wrestle?
Well, the keys to viability in any primary are Message, Machine and Money (not necessarily in that order). Let's see how Carroll measures up.
Message: Anyone who has ever seen Morgan Carroll speak knows she can bring Democrats to their feet while framing issues as well or better than any Democrat in the state. This could be a significant advantage for Carroll when you contrast her with Lamm and Perlmutter (let's just say Dave Thomas could hold his own sharing a stage with those two). Carroll's message appeals to the Democratic base, whereas Lamm is positioning herself as a "centrist" and Perlmutter has a fairly moderate voting record. In case you haven't noticed, the base of the Democratic party is engaged in a full-scale revolt against the centrist / moderate wing of the party, whom they see - rightly or wrongly - as repeatedly betraying the party's core values.
Machine: If Morgan Carroll chose to enter the fray, you can bet the entire Mike Miles operation, now known as "Be The Change," would drop everything to help Carroll win. Although you might disagree with the voracity of this crowd, they are astute organizers who upset Ken Salazar at the state convention last year and engineered Pat Waak's surprise victory over party chair Chris Gates this year. The nerve-center of "Be The Change" is located in north Jefferson County (Perlmutter's backyard) in the western part of the district and Carroll's house district and political base are in the east (Aurora). Lamm has to invent a political base virtually from scratch and Perlmutter's is limited to Jefferson County, where both Mike Feeley and Dave Thomas launched their unsuccessful 7th CD bids.
Money: This is an area where Morgan Carroll is weak in comparison to Lamm and Perlmutter. However, it is rumored that EMILY'S List approached Carroll some months ago about running in the 7th. If this is true and the offer still stands, The List could bundle significant dollars for a Carroll candidacy and potentially level the playing field enough to make her competitive with Lamm and Perlmutter. However, if Carroll is unable to raise enough money to be viable, the best she could hope for is top-line at the state convention, only to be buried on TV in the primary. If either Lamm or Perlmutter become damaged goods in the course of the race, key Democratic funding sources could intervene to persuade Carroll to fill the void.
The bottom line here is that the race for the 7th has started so early that new dynamics and candidates have plenty of time to emerge (especially with Conti and Polsfut dropping out). Morgan Carroll, or anyone else for that matter, has more than enough time to hide in the bushes and wait for an opportunity to pounce. If I were Lamm or Perlmutter, I'd be less worried about my announced opposition and more nervous about those who have yet to declare.