Sunday, April 14, 2024 -
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Political gamesmanship

If you’ve been watching TV lately, you’ve probably come across a political advertisement against the Republican candidate for Senate, Joe O’Dea. The “No Way O’Dea” ad paints the Colorado businessman as disingenuous because he has supported gun regulation, Democratic politicians and Biden’s spending bill. I am not going to examine the veracity of those claims, but let’s suppose they’re accurate. One would surmise that this ad was put out by his opponent, a Colorado House representative very much in the political right of the Republican camp.

The shock comes at the end of the advertisement: “Paid for by Democratic Colorado.”


There’s a long-term political game plan here: Campaign against the Republican candidate who has a shot at defeating the Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet in the general election. It’s a new twist on the ends justifying the means.

Instead of investing in the Democratic primaries — the logical thing for a super PAC called Democratic Colorado — target Republicans or, more likely, unaffiliated voters, so the less-electable Republican candidate wins.

This kind of political gamesmanship, while wily, is exactly why so many Americans have become utterly disillusioned by politics. Tactics like this scream of a cutthroat play for power, certainly not of public service. Potentially alienating voters does not seem wise for a group seeking votes.

There’s an even riskier wrinkle. A 2016 ballot measure allowed Colorado’s registered unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections. Those are the voters “No Way O’Dea” is targeting. Here’s the thing: Unaffiliated voters can vote either the Republican or Democratic ballot, but they must choose one. So an unaffiliated voter swayed to vote against O’Dea takes a voter away from important Democratic primaries and there are many of those, ranging from the new Congressional district to HD-6.

Underdogs can get elected. We saw it most recently in the 2016 presidential election.

With unaffiliated voters the largest voting bloc, that’s potentially a lot of voters to take away from the Democratic ballot.

Not to mention, by targeting O’Dea, Democratic Colorado gives him more exposure as well as a great campaign pitch: “They’re scared because I’m electable.”

Like I said, risky.

Perverse — or genius? I’ll let you decide when you’re filling out your ballot for Tuesday’s primary.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected].

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