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08.10.10

Big Win for Obama

The president finally played kingmaker after losses earlier this year, and Colorado will likely stay blue. Mark McKinnon on Tuesday’s primary results and how the GOP penchant for outsiders will play in November.

Score a big win for President Obama. And for Colorado Democrats.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet fought off a furious challenge Tuesday from the Bill Clinton-endorsed candidate, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. In fact, even though Bennet was the incumbent, the way Romanoff had come on, the win can be considered an upset.

To his credit, Bennet kept his cool and never ran negative ads against Romanoff, who, on the other hand, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by running a scorched-earth campaign fueled by harshly negative ads.

Until Tuesday, the phones weren’t ringing much with requests for Obama to campaign in person. The switchboard will be lighting up Wednesday.

Obama rolled the dice on his man and won decisively. This victory should provide a huge psychological advantage for Team Obama, which had been on the defensive and reeling from losses in contests this year in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

The practical effect of Bennet’s win will be an emboldened Obama political operation. Until Tuesday, the phones weren’t ringing much with requests for Obama to campaign in person. The switchboard will be lighting up Wednesday.

Colorado was the big enchilada Tuesday. The Democratic Senate race was a barn burner, but the GOP contest was even closer. Former prosecutor Ken Buck squeaked out a win over former

Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, a win for the outsider, the ideological wing, and the Tea Party faction (even though Buck was caught on tape disparaging some of the “birthers”). Colorado is the ultimate purple state, and this race will be watched closely as a national bellwether. Norton would have had great crossover appeal, so this race will probably now lean Democratic.

And Colorado Republicans nominated businessman Don Maes to take on Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper for governor. Both GOP candidates saw their hopes diminish for general-election prospects as details of plagiarism and questionable business credentials emerged.

So, Colorado Democrats came out big winners.

Georgia’s runoff for governor featured a presidential endorsement sweepstakes, as Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin endorsed Karen Handel while Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee endorsed the apparent winner, former Rep. Nathan Deal. Still, the race is close enough (less than 1 percent) that Handel can legally call for a recount.

In Connecticut, former World Wrestling Entertainment honchette Linda McMahon won the GOP right to take on the ultimate insider, longtime state Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, in the bid to replace Senator Chris Dodd. Ned Lamont, who after winning the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate compelled Joe Lieberman to run successfully as an Independent, made a bid for governor this time and lost to Dan Malloy, Stamford's former mayor.

And in Minnesota former Senator Mark Dayton beat state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and will take on state Rep. Tom Emmer in the race to replace Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Peter Beinart: Obama’s Unbelievable Winning StreakThe net result of Tuesday’s elections generally is that Democrats nominated insiders or incumbents like Bennet and Blumenthal, while Republicans chose outsiders like Ken Buck and Linda McMahon.

The question in November is: Will the insiders be too inside or will the outsiders be too outside? That’s the case the candidates will be making.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono.