Weighing Fallout From Salazar Assault Decision

Posted May 11, 2004 at 5:04pm

When Gov. Bill Owens (R) asked Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) in February to lead the state’s investigation of the allegations that University of Colorado football players had sexually assaulted several women on campus, many political observers agreed that there were potential political risks for the ambitious AG.

So what will the fallout be for Salazar, who is now the Democrats’ leading candidate for Senate, since he announced Tuesday that he would not pursue criminal charges?

Not much, according to an independent pollster and the president of the Boulder chapter of the National Organization for Women, where the alleged assaults took place.

“Let’s face it — no one wants to tick off football fans when you’re running for U.S. Senate,” said Boulder NOW President Regina Cowles. “But I really don’t think that’s the motivation here.”

Cowles and Denver-based pollster Floyd Ciruli said Salazar’s determination — that there wasn’t enough evidence or cooperation from the alleged victims to indict — wasn’t surprising because it was shared by Boulder’s district attorney several months earlier.

“It means Salazar is free to do what Salazar needs to do day and night — run for Senate,” Ciruli said.
— Josh Kurtz

Ads on Gay Marriage Target Musgrave, Allard

While it may have little impact on Centennial State elections, the Log Cabin Republicans, the group that represents gay and lesbian GOPers, announced Tuesday that it is launching an advertising campaign targeting Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) and Sen. Wayne Allard (R).

Musgrave and Allard are the sponsors of the proposed Constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage.

The ads, which are running on the Colorado airwaves, accuse the two lawmakers of ignoring issues most of the state’s families care about.

But what political impact the ads will have remains to be seen. Allard is not up for re-election again until 2008, and he may step down if he decides to honor a pledge to serve only two terms.

Although only a freshman, Musgrave faces little danger in the very conservative 4th district — a seat Allard once held. She faces mechanical engineer and business consultant Bob Faust in the GOP primary.
— J.K.

ILLINOIS
Independent Poll Shows Obama With Big Lead

A new independent poll in the Land of Lincoln Senate race showed state Sen. Barack Obama (D) maintaining a healthy lead over investment banker-turned-teacher Jack Ryan (R).

The Wilson Research Strategies survey found Obama led Ryan 44 percent to 28 percent. The survey of 400 registered voters was taken May 4-5 and had a 5 percent margin of error.

A poll conducted in late March for Obama’s campaign showed him leading Ryan 52 percent to 33 percent.

The new poll also had Obama with a commanding lead among self-described independent voters, 44 percent to 15 percent.

“If Ryan has any hope of making this a competitive race he must do two things — first continue to grow his lead with Republicans and find a way to communicate with independents,” said Wilson Research Strategies President Jim Adams. “With 33 percent of those surveyed self describing as independents, the independent vote will play a crucial part of any winning coalition, and right now Obama is doing a better job of winning their trust.”

Adams also said Ryan must work harder to establish clear contrasts between himself and Obama.

The poll, which was not commissioned or paid for by either candidate, found Obama led Ryan among men, 41 percent to 31 percent, and among women, 46 percent to 24 percent.

“One of the reasons we did this was we thought it was a state really worth watching,” Adams said.
— Lauren W. Whittington

MICHIGAN
Chamber Propels Bisbee in Crowded GOP Field

In a development that solidifies his status in the top tier of 7th district candidates, state Rep. Clark Bisbee (R) on Monday picked up the endorsement of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

“Clark Bisbee has the campaign skills, political base and work ethic to win the August Republican primary,” said Jim Barrett, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber. “Clark Bisbee is pro-business, pro-jobs and pro-taxpayer. He’ll be an outstanding Congressman for the people of the 7th district.”

Bisbee is one of a half-dozen Republicans seeking to replace Rep. Nick Smith (R), who is retiring. Attorney Brad Smith, the Congressman’s son, is among the candidates.

Bisbee’s endorsement from the state chamber comes on the heels of his endorsement late last month from the Michigan Right to Life Committee. The dual endorsements put Bisbee in a strong position in the confusing, hard-to-predict primary.

Several of the more conservative candidates in the field said they would likely drop out of the race if they did not receive the Right to Life Committee’s designation, but so far that has not happened.

Former state Sen. Joe Schwarz (R), the lone moderate in the field, is also one of the top contenders in the race. He was the Michigan chairman for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign, and the Senator is supporting him now. Schwarz also has high name recognition from running unsuccessfully for governor in 2002. He did not seek the Right to Life endorsement.
— J.K.

CONNECTICUT
Sullivan Gets Party Nod But Still Faces Primary

Democratic delegates in the Nutmeg State’s 2nd district overwhelmingly endorsed former Norwich Alderman Jim Sullivan on Monday night in his bid to take on two-term Rep. Rob Simmons (R) in November.

But the runner-up at the local convention, former state Rep. Shaun McNally (D), has vowed to take his case to primary voters — even though many Democratic leaders want him to drop out of the race so the party can focus on defeating Simmons.

McNally, who got just 45 convention votes to Sullivan’s 255, said he would get behind the party nominee after the Aug. 10 primary.

“There will be unity on Aug. 11,” he said, according to The Day newspaper in New London.

But former state Rep. Joe Courtney (D), the party’s unsuccessful nominee against the two-term Congressman last cycle, urged McNally to step aside now.

“At some point, time is the enemy,” he said. “For all the free publicity and visibility the primary gets you, there’s a price you pay in terms of the time you lose.”

Democrats are hoping to take back the Democratic-leaning seat that Simmons won in an upset in 2000.
— J.K.