This past week rising star Congressman Cory Gardner and Senator Michael Bennet toured Northern Colorado businesses together, earning media coverage in just about every major outlet that covers Gardner's district. During the trip they pledged to move beyond the partisan warfare in DC and work together on helping create jobs through regulatory and tax code reform.
Trips like this are great press for a first term Congressman, especially when the result becomes agreement to work on GOP issues–reducing the heavy hand of government–rather than Democrat issues–increasing the hiring hand of government. They also present another strength for Gardner and therefore weakness for any potential bid for Senate President Brandon Shaffer, in that they show that Gardner is such an effective and likable legislator that members of the opposing party, even inside the CO delegation, want to work with him.
Just as when Congressman Tipton got the Pinon Canyon expansion funding block put into the military construction budget, removing a major argument for Sal Pace's candidacy, great press removes a major argument for a Shaffer campaign. If Democrats like working with Congressman Gardner in DC, including Barry O himself, why unseat him? Shaffer may have tried his doggone best to "Brandon-Mander" his own personal Congressional district, but lacking a solid and substantial case for his own candidacy, it's going to be a significant uphill battle.
What's worse is Shaffer has a well known anger management issue, which has earned him the enmity of more than a few folks in Colorado. Whether it's publicly storming out of a restaurant like a seven year old child during budget negotiations or being on the verge of a mental breakdown during redistricting, Shaffer is not known for coolness under pressure. Congressional campaigns get intense and candidates who are unable to take their hits in stride tend to get caught in embarrassing Youtube clips of them losing their cool.
We hope that Shaffer gets in for just that reason. Those Youtube hits are like porn for political junkies. But Shaffer may realize he would risk exposing his less than palatable persona to a much wider audience should he run for Congress. Stacking that potential for permanent destruction of his public image with Gardner's well built image of an effective and charming legislator, and Shaffer has reason to wonder if embarking on a campaign is worth it at all.
And Shaffer won’t be the only Democrat wondering if he has a shot. Given Michael Bennet’s travel schedule this week, apparently Mr. Bennet is pretty unsure about Shaffer’s prospects himself.