Former state Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Rape Whistle) is riding the coattails of the overnight meme sensation of grumpy old man Bernie Sanders in a lawn chair.
We’re not sure if it’s a fundraising ploy or if the director of the anti-fracking group Colorado Rising needs a new job, but Salazar obviously wants Bernie Bros to urge him to primary fellow Democrat U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
And we thought it was just Republicans and conservatives getting trashed in the Democrat Party’s Unity Tour.
Salazar pitched his potential run to Colorado Politics while soundly thrashing Bennet:
“He is so wishy-washy and so middle-of-the-road that we don’t know which road he walks on,” Salazar said. “Colorado is trending progressive. We’re not the moderate state that Sen. Bennet seems to be stuck in the mud over.”
While Sanders has won a statewide Democrat primary election in Colorado, Salazar has not.
Salazar lost the 2018 Democrat primary for attorney general to Phil Weiser.
Even if Salazar elects not to run, he said Bennet will more than likely get a primary challenge if he doesn’t start cow-towing to the socialist whims of the left.
Some may be tempted to write off Salazar’s primary threat in light of John Hickenlooper fending off a left-wing challenge from former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff last year.
However, there are a number of factors that would make a Salazar primary campaign much different.
For starters, he would likely get the coveted Sanders endorsement in a state the frumpy socialist also easily carried in last year’s presidential primary.
Moreover, the combined vote for Sanders and Elizabeth Warren exceeded 50% of the Democrat electorate in the presidential primary, suggesting primary voters on the left prefer a socialist approach to major issues like taxes, energy, and healthcare.
Salazar also has a much longer track record as a left-wing activist than Romanoff, whose run last year was hurt by his record of flip-flopping in his three failed congressional runs.
It’s also likely Salazar would be a far better small-dollar fundraiser than Romanoff, who was massively outspent by Hickenlooper and Chuck Schumer-aligned outside groups.
Finally, Salazar’s pointed criticism of Bennet makes it obvious he isn’t afraid of running an aggressive campaign against Bennet.
Romanoff, by contrast, largely avoided throwing punches at Hickenlooper until one television ad a few weeks before the primary.
Salazar clearly understands a successful primary challenge would require a sustained campaign to negatively define Bennet in the minds of Democrat primary voters.
In short, Salazar’s primary threat makes it obvious Bennet has significant problems with his base.
That could spell trouble Democrats and open the door for Republicans to retake the seat in 2022.