Wonder how redistricting is going to turn out? You can either sit through hours of endless and mind-numbing testimony about pine beetles and the farmland in Douglas County or you can watch where Democrats are targeting their resources and energy. With a Democrat-appointee dominated court deciding the new Congressional redistricting lines, it is likely the court will do as it did last go-round and adopt one of the Democrats' maps. Based on the early machinations of major Democrat groups, a few things are coming into focus.
The first lesson, which has become more readily apparent every week, is that state Senate President and CD4 candidate Brandon Shaffer is screwed. The map submitted by the state Democrat Party drew Shaffer's home in Longmont out of the 4th Congressional District and into incumbent Congressman Jared Polis's (D-Boulder) district — so did maps submitted by liberal special interest Latino groups.
In fact, the only maps in which Shaffer managed to make it into the 4th CD were the state GOP map and one of the two maps submitted by Democrat DA of Pueblo, Bill Thiebaut.
Can you guess which map Shaffer submitted an amicus brief supporting in court?
With Shaffer effectively sidelined by his own party, and limited resources available outside the Obama campaign, Democrats look likely to target two Congressional seats in Colorado.
CD3 is almost guaranteed to be the most competitive non-Presidential race next year. All of the maps submitted so far keep Sal "Piss Boy" Pace's house in Pueblo in a competitive 3rd CD, save for the liberal Latino special interest group maps, which move Pueblo and the San Luis Valley into Cory Gardner's 4th CD with the Eastern Plains.
Highlighting the priority that CD3 is for Democrats, Nancy Pelosi's Super PAC has even ran attack ads against Congressman Scott Tipton this year, though a number of radio stations took them down after it was determined they were full of lies.
Even though national Democrats have targeted Tipton, his opponents have a host of issues from Dr. Haney's ethical improprieties (PDF) to Sal Pace's extensive criminal record. It remains to be seen if a Democrat challenger can put forth the type of competitive campaign that Democrats in Washington, DC are hoping for.
While everyone has assumed that the CD3 race would be competitive, it is becoming increasingly obvious that CD6 is a target of the national Democrats. Incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman rolled to re-election with 2/3 of the vote in 2010, but both the liberal Latino group maps and the state Democrats' map attempt to gerrymander CD6 to give it a Democrat advantage for 2012.
Now comes news that Howard Dean's group Democracy For America (DFA) is using a childish stunt to raise money for a smear campaign against Congressman Coffman. Joe Miklosi's Campaign Manager, Dean Meinen, sent an email on Friday encouraging Miklosi supporters to vote Coffman a "Villain" in DFA's contest. The "winner" of the contest gets money spent smearing them on TV next year.
While it's a sad statement that a candidate is engaging in juvenile antics so early in the contest, it says something larger about where the real battle lines will be drawn in 2012.
Miklosi is a weak candidate that will need all the national help he can muster. Despite predicting that he would raise "millions of dollars," Miklosi barely scrapped together $130k in his first fundraising quarter, with nearly $50k coming from labor union PACs.
He may have raised bunk, but his party is spending precious Pat Stryker resources fighting for district lines that will boost his chances.
As the Congressional races begin to heat up, we expect Brandon Shaffer will fade from view, allowing Democrats to focus their fire on Scott Tipton and Mike Coffman. Unfortunately for Democrat strategists in DC, neither incumbent has seen a strong challenger emerge. But that won't stop Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean's PACs from blanketing Denver area airwaves with attack ads ad neaseum next year.