How bad have state Senate President and CD4 Congressional candidate Brandon Shaffer's prospects become in the last few months? Bad enough that Shaffer barely earns a mention in the AP's recent round up of Congressional redistricting in Colorado. After his party shafted Shaffer in their redistricting court filing, submitting a map that drew his home in Longmont out of the 4th CD, the chattering classes began to write his campaign off. If his own political party didn't think it was worth fighting for him in court, how much of a chance could he really have?

That public sentiment that Shaffer is running an unwinnable campaign has come home to roost with the AP's Ivan Moreno getting confident bluster from Sal Pace and Joe Miklosi, but simply mentioning that Shaffer is running in the 4th. It's got to hurt that joke candidate Joe Miklosi is getting more press than Brandon Shaffer. Miklosi's opponent, Congressman Mike Coffman, won re-election with 2/3 of the vote in 2010.

Even worse is that the state Democrat's redistricting map gives Miklosi a better shot at winning than Shaffer. 

Shaffer was so screwed by his own party that he had to file his own amicus brief begging the court not to draw him out of the 4th CD.

Now this isn't groundbreaking insight into Shaffer's campaign's prospects, but it is a sign of the growing perception that Shaffer is simply wasting everyone's time by running. 

There have even been rumors running around that Shaffer may drop out, like he did in 2007, when he realizes how unlikely it is for him to make it to Congress. 

Another minor sign of Shaffer's uphill struggles is the fact that we haven't heard a peep from his campaign on his fundraising numbers in the 3rd fundraising quarter. Shaffer held off his campaign until the beginning of the 3rd quarter, allowing him the full quarter to raise campaign cash. While Sal Pace was trumpeting his modest $165,000 raised — which is on the lower end of Congressional challengers in competitive seats nationally — Shaffer hasn't bothered to leak a thing. Not a good sign for a challenger campaign.

Considering his opponent, Congressman Cory Gardner, has been the top fundraiser in Colorado's Congressional delegation so far this year, Shaffer's all quiet on the campaign cash front stance is not heartening to his supporters. Good numbers get released early for challengers in an attempt to draw stories about momentum. No news from a challenger campaign generally means no momentum to crow about.

Add on top of that Shaffer's transparently political ploy to score points off of an I-News and Ed News Colorado investigation into online schools in Colorado by demanding an emergency audit — truly grasping at straws for a Congressional candidate — and you have the picture of an unserious and uncompetitive campaign beginning to take shape.

Shaffer hasn't defined his career by work on education, nor will it be a major federal issue debated in next year's election. It was simply a headline that Shaffer wanted to ride, a recognition that Shaffer isn't able to generate his own news, only piggy back off of other's investigative work.

Sure, it's only the fall of an off-year, but just as district lines are about to become set, campaign narratives are also starting to gel. 

With 2012 likely to see Colorado at the center of President Obama's re-election dog fight, Democrats are going to have to start picking their battles, as there will be little money and energy left to fight down-ticket races. The serious question confronting Shaffer's campaign has to be whether Democrat Party leadership believes Shaffer is one of those races worth their investment.