220px-Cory_Gardner,_Official_Portrait,_112th_CongressThe Washington Post just vocalized what we here at the Peak have known for a long time, Senator-Elect Cory Gardner was the best candidate in the country.  As they write:

Looking at the list [of the best candidates for the 2014 election cycle], it’s immediately apparent that Senate Republicans did an outstanding job of recruiting this cycle.

…But, when you look at the totality of the campaign, it’s clear that Cory Gardner was the single best candidate of the 2014 election.

Gardner’s decision was also symbolically important. It mattered that an ambitious rising star within the GOP suddenly saw opportunity where, he thought, none existed before; it was a lift for the entire GOP.

…In the final week of the election, Democrats acknowledged that Gardner had outfoxed them. [the Peak’s emphasis]

Colorado Democrats may come to rue the opportunity they just missed: if a candidate as good as Gardner could not win a state-wide election in Colorado during a mid-term election, one could safely write Colorado off for any Republican for at least the next decade.  At best, national campaign committees like the RGA and the NRSC would have dialed back the resources they tossed at Colorado.  Likewise, many right-leaning outside groups would look to play in other states before wasting their money on Colorado.  Essentially, a Udall win would have been the official death knell of the Colorado Republican party.

Colorado Republicans and their campaigns were also singled out by Roll Call for the races they ran.  As Roll Call wrote about Gardner and his campaign:

Gardner’s campaign performed a series of carefully choreographed moves that were impeccably executed.

National Republicans are particularly ebullient over the Gardner team’s get-out-the-vote operation.  …going toe-to-toe with Democrats’ vaunted Bannock Street Project — and won. Gardner’s campaign manager, Chris Hansen, took advantage of Democrats’ fondness of talking about the plan. When a February New York Times article laid out the strategy, Hansen said, “we took them very seriously, and we built a plan to compete against it.” [the Peak’s emphasis]

Not to be outdone,  Rep. Mike Coffman and his campaign team also gets a shout-out from Roll Call, as a race that was once dubbed earlier in the cycle “the closest race in America,” became nothing more than an afterthought by early October.  As they write:

…the suburban Denver district was on track to be the heavyweight matchup of the cycle. But Coffman defined himself early as a reasonable force within the GOP conference. By mid-October, the DCCC pulled much of its television advertising. Coffman went on to win by 9 points.

National Republicans praised campaign manager Tyler Sandberg’s execution. Campaign sources also pointed to minority outreach, specifically to Asian Americans, and a sophisticated digital strategy by Targeted Victory. [the Peak’s emphasis]

As Colorado Democrats continue to try to spin how they didn’t just get their asses handed to them this last cycle, the verdict from the national media is this: they did.