Election Day in Colorado wasn’t just good for the Democrats’ Salazar brothers, Sen.-elect Ken and Rep.-elect John. Their victories were also a validation of sorts for the League of Conservation Voters.
The Salazars weren’t the only successful candidates the environmental group got behind in a big way this cycle. Exit polls conducted for the LCV showed that voters responded to the League’s multipronged attacks on the Salazars’ Republican opponents.
The poll by Paul Maslin and Ben Tulchin of Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin & Associates found that three-quarters of the state’s voters recalled hearing negative things about the environmental record of Republican Senate nominee Pete Coors — who had been tagged “Polluter Pete” in LCV ads.
Similarly, in the open 3rd district race, the poll found that the organization effectively branded Republican Greg Walcher a foe of the environment and a tool of special interests, principally through its ads referring to John Salazar’s foe as “Water Grab Walcher.”
Walcher, former director of the state Department of Natural Resources, had been part of an administration that fought for a failed ballot measure on water that was seen as diverting resources from Colorado’s rural Western Slope to the more populous Denver region. Not only did the LCV run ads hitting Walcher for serving Gov. Bill Owens (R), the champion of the water initiative, the group also hired a water truck to drive through the city of Grand Junction with the words “Water Grab Walcher” emblazoned on its side.
“It’s helpful if you can find a phrase that encapsulates the message you’re trying to deliver about your opponents,” said Mark Longebaugh, LCV’s political director.
Keenan’s Win. During her hard-fought campaign for Montana’s lone House seat in 2000, Nancy Keenan (D), then the state superintendent of public instruction, had to beat back charges that she was a closet liberal. She wound up losing to Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), a rancher and former lieutenant governor, by 5 points.
Now, Keenan will have a potentially bigger stage — albeit one that will expose her to further charges that she’s a liberal. Last week, Keenan, who had been guiding education policy at People for the American Way for the past few years, was named president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group.
Keenan replaces interim President Elizabeth Cavendish, who has held the job since May, when longtime president Kate Michelman stepped down. Keenan officially takes over Wednesday.
“As a public servant from the heartland of America, I know that respect for a woman’s personal privacy and her right to choose are truly American values,” Keenan said.
Pataki PAC. When Erie County (N.Y.) Republican Party Chairman Robert Davis was recently passed over in the race to become the new chairman of the state GOP, it was seen as a defeat for the leader of one of the Empire State’s biggest Republican organizations.
But Davis, according to The Buffalo News, received a nice consolation prize. He will take over as chairman of the 21st Century Freedom PAC, the 5-year-old political action committee created by ambitious New York Gov. George Pataki (R). The PAC, Davis told the News, is expected to increase its national activity as Pataki openly contemplates running for president in 2008.
Davis’ first task as chairman will be organizing an event in Washington, D.C., to coincide with President Bush’s inauguration in January.
Westover and Out. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is losing his campaign manager, Maryland’s Gazette newspaper is reporting.
Chuck Westover, who guided Van Hollen to an impressive 75 percent to 25 percent Election Day victory over Republican Chuck Floyd, has been hired by Montgomery County (Md.) Council President Steven Silverman (D), who is expected to run for county executive in 2006.
Silverman could well face departing Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Isiah Leggett in the race to replace Douglas Duncan, who is almost certain to run for governor in 2006.
And since unruly sports fans have been in the news for the past several days, let it be known that Robin Ficker (R), the infamous heckler at old Washington Bullets games, also plans to run for Montgomery County executive in 2006. Ficker, who spent a term as a state Senator from 1978 to 1982, ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2004, for the state Senate in 2002 and for the U.S. Senate in 2000.
Change Agent. Carol Bergman, a director of legislative affairs for drug policy under then-President Bill Clinton has joined the Center for Community Change as a senior policy specialist.
Bergman has 20 years of experience in federal policy, with an expertise in criminal justice and civil rights issues. She worked most recently as director of the Research and Policy Reform Center, and was also an associate counsel for the House Government Operations Committee.
The Center for Community Change is a D.C.-based nonprofit think tank dedicated to building better communities.