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I've been hosting the big drive-time progressive radio show here in Colorado for the last month, as regular host Jay Marvin has been out sick. In the last two weeks, callers have been increasingly venting their frustration with appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), both for his refusal to take a public position on the Employee Free Choice Act, and with his decision to join the "Conservadem" caucus whose "stated goal is to protect business interests," as the Wall Street Journal reports. Every day, AM760 producer John Turk has been calling Bennet's office, asking him to come on the show - even for 5 minutes - and explain his rationales to the audience. And unfortunately, everyday Bennet's office has told us he's too busy with Senate business.

That's fine - I get that senators can be busy, and even in a relatively small state where the press corps is manageably small, not every request can be fulfilled. However, what I don't get is an appointed senator in a swing state who has never faced voters having plenty of time to schmooze with Beltway reporters, but no time to explain himself to his constituents.

What am I talking about? Check out this Twitter note I caught from Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post blogger, just now:

Just back from lunch with Sen. Bennet (Colo.).

So evidently, Bennet has no time to get on the phone and join a public, 50,000-watt forum for tens of thousands of Colorado voters, but plenty of time to lunch with a Washington Post blogger.

Obviously, this is pretty telling on a number of levels.

First and foremost, it's bad politics. Bennet is likely facing a Democratic primary in 2010 from a top-tier candidate like former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), and judging by the response to the show we did today all about the prospect of a primary, there's a lot of interest among rank-and-file Democrats for a primary challenge to Bennet. Indeed, even state Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) said he saw the potential value of a primary. So, you'd think Bennet would want to spend time explaining his positions on the state's biggest progressive radio station - a station whose listenership is disproportionately Democratic primary voters (listen to the podcast of today's show on a possible primary challenge to Bennet here, here, here and here).

Second, it seems to confirm the suspicion that Bennet, a lifelong Washington insider who has never run for office in Colorado, really isn't all that focused on the state he was appointed to represent.

Let me conclude by saying the invitation remains open to Bennet - I want him to come on the air and answer a few questions from listeners. I'm going to be keynoting the Larimer County Democrats dinner up in Ft. Collins on Saturday, and I will say exactly that in my speech. The fact is, Colorado voters need to know where their appointed senator stands on these issues - we don't need him spending more time schmoozing D.C. bloggers than answering our questions.

Originally posted to davidsirota on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 01:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  maybe someone should challenge him (9+ / 0-)

    What we need is a good dem to stand up and challenge his seat. Got anyone in mind?

    Keep up the good work while Jay is out. Colorado needs the both of you.

    Change the world. Ask questions.

    by AstroCook on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 01:36:47 PM PDT

  •  Primary against Bennett (7+ / 0-)

    enough is enough, haven't we got enough problems with status quo protecting Senators.

    Maybe we should stop dicking around and just start calling the Senate the House of Lords.

    Help phone bank for or donate to Scott Murphy for Congress! The election is 3/31/09. We can win this election or we can lose it. The choice is ours!

    by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 01:38:18 PM PDT

  •  Frigging ConservaDems need to be taught a lesson (6+ / 0-)

    along with the Blue Dogs. Together they represent the GOP wing of the Democratic party.

    I want to primary their asses off.

    Help phone bank for or donate to Scott Murphy for Congress! The election is 3/31/09. We can win this election or we can lose it. The choice is ours!

    by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 01:40:15 PM PDT

    •  Only problem is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pager, deedogg

      this is Colorado.  While I dislike bluedogs, an honest-to-goodness "librul" would probably not play well statewide.

      •  Mark Udall (0+ / 0-)

        Who has joined the Blue Dogs, was a pretty liberal Congressman- especially environmentally- and was from Boulder!

        I was a little surprised to see him in the moderate caucus.  We'll see how he votes to see if it actually means anything.

        You can not have well people on a sick planet- Thomas Berry

        by nwgates on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:32:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Udall is apparently (0+ / 0-)

          whatever he needs to be in order to be (re)elected.

          •  We'll see (0+ / 0-)

            I am going to put more stock in his votes and positions on issues than his membership in this group.  He has banked a lot of credibility with me for his strong pro-environmental record.  Hopefully he sees this as an opportunity to gain a bit of cover while still maintaining his 90-100% LCV score card.

            You can not have well people on a sick planet- Thomas Berry

            by nwgates on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:58:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for pointing this out (4+ / 0-)

    When Bill Ritter brought him down here to Colorado Springs a few months ago I was impressed. Now that he is joining the Blue Dog Conservadems I am not so impressed. Romanoff will have my vote if he keeps on this track...

    •  I'm curious, why were you impressed? (4+ / 0-)

      My husband is a Denver teacher, and we strongly dislike Bennet. He seems to be an apparatchik- just hopping from one political appointment to another, doesn't matter what the position is about, as long as it's higher than the previous one. He used to work for Phil Anschutz (for crying out loud), before being our mayor's chief of staff, and getting himself appointed as DPS superintendent. Not much of a democrat.

      Natasha

  •  I really can't understand why Ritter (3+ / 0-)

    Appointed him.  Why didn't he just try to resurrect Wayne Allard?  At least we wouldn't have gotten our hopes up.  Andrew Romanoff and Ed Pearlmutter would have been such good picks,

    I do not like thee, Doctor Fell, The reason why I cannot tell; But this I know, and know full well, I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

    by opinionated on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 01:45:08 PM PDT

  •  Is this a davidsirota ad? n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, Bob Love, Captain Antelope
    •  Did you even bother to read the diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, Mariken

      before you dumped your turd of a comment here?

      Wait. You don't have to answer. Your comment is living proof that you didn't.

      They're like the Inspector Clouseaus' of the blogging world.

      by Pager on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 02:37:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  howdy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pager

        What can you tell me about Bennet? Is this guy really no good? I'm curious because I don't trust Sirota's judgment on things like this.

        •  Here's all I know, in a nutshell. (6+ / 0-)

          Bennet was a pick out of left field. A stunning appointment and absolutely unexpected. His name wasn't even on the radar. Most state Dems think our Governor, Bill Ritter, has made himself vulnerable by picking Bennet because it really calls into question his judgment.

          Most of us in the know expected Ritter to go with former State Representative Andrew Romanoff (a young and dynamic Democrat who had just termed out as our Speaker of the State House) or US Rep Ed Perlmutter. Bennet is a complete unknown because his 2 biggest claims to fame are being the Denver School Superintendent and working in Mayor Hickenlooper's office.

          I'm not ready to write him off because the guy hasn't actually voted on anything of significance yet and I have no idea what the Conservadem group is all about and am curious since both Mark Udall and Claire McCaskill both joined it.

          But I have to tell you, he has been completely unresponsive on the EFCA and that disturbs me.

          He has no name recognition (unlike Perlmutter and Romanoff) so he is at a deficit there and the Republicans in our state are overjoyed at this pick because this gives them a legitimate shot at picking up a Senate seat in 2010.

          They're like the Inspector Clouseaus' of the blogging world.

          by Pager on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 02:50:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  thanks! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pager

            I know you are dialed into the Colorado scene. It's amazing what a trainwreck some of these appointment have been, huh?

            •  God, no kidding. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              taylormattd, corvo, deedogg

              I mean, I really like NY's Patterson but his handling of filling Clinton's seat was an absolute disaster.

              I worked on Ritter's campaign a bit in 2006 and I really was deeply disappointed with his Bennet pick. I just don't understand it. I really don't.

              I'll tell you this much--I've met Romanoff at more than a few events and he is just dynamic. It doesn't hurt that he's in his late 30s, single and a hottie, either. Old ladies gravitate to that guy like white on rice. And the very best thing about him is that he is quite progressive but also very popular amongst moderate Republicans and has co-sponsored a ton of really good legislation with them. He is best known for working across the aisle to get shit done. I was just sad when he termed out. To lose him in the House sucked but I figured when Salazar got called up for Interior, he was at the top of the list.

              They're like the Inspector Clouseaus' of the blogging world.

              by Pager on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:00:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  The EFCA silence is very troubling (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pager, deedogg

            So far the only things I heard about Sen. Bennet is that he joined this conservadem caucus,was asked "who are you?" at a county Democratic party meeting & won't comment on EFCA.  The only thing I've heard from him was a short sound bit of "outrage" about the AIG bonuses.  Not exactly making a big splash. I'm ready to help out a primary challenger; there are a lot of good Dems out there.

            •  I'm not quite ready to throw him under the bus (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              corvo, deedogg

              yet because a primary race is going to be bloody and potential a disaster for Democrats. But if he doesn't get his shit together, I will join you in supporting a primary challenge.

              They're like the Inspector Clouseaus' of the blogging world.

              by Pager on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:01:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I'm shocked at the recent Senate appointees. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo, Pager, deedogg

            In each case it seems the Governor has made a puzzling choice. Gillibrand, Burris and Bennet each came out of nowhere.

            Obviously Blago/Burris is a special affair.

      •  Of course I read the diary. How else would I (0+ / 0-)

        have noticed that it starts with a plug for the diarist's talk show, includes 4 links to podcasts of his talk show (none of which worked for me), and an ad for a personal appearance (including the diarist's picture).  It struck me that the diary was ad strung around the CO junior Senator that I STILL know very little about. That's all.

    •  They All Are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother Shipper

      "Dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else." Paul Krugman

      by Dana Houle on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:06:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good news. Now we need a primary opponent (0+ / 0-)

    for Evan Bayh, the sooner the better.

  •  False. This "lifelong Washington insider" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dana Houle aka DHinMI, Pager, Mariken

    spent the last 12 years - about half his adult life - in Denver.  Don't just make stuff up.

    Wikipedia:

    He worked for six years prior to his tenure at the City of Denver as Managing Director for the Anschutz Investment Company in Denver ...

    Bennet served for two years as the Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper ...

    Bennet was appointed superintendent of Denver Public Schools on June 27, 2005, taking office on the following July 1.

    "Justice is indivisible." - MLK

    by Bob Love on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 02:43:51 PM PDT

    •  Yes. Good on you for that clarification. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, rhutcheson

      That little slur "Denver Insider" is one of Sirota's favorites and he uses it whenever he talks about Bennet despite the fact that he's been called out on it several times.

      They're like the Inspector Clouseaus' of the blogging world.

      by Pager on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 02:51:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Funny That a Guy Who Worked for AIPAC Like Sirota (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhutcheson, Captain Antelope

      ...did, and who also worked for one of the Congressional committees, makes a big deal of accusing others of being "Washington insiders."

      Bennett's worked as an adult outside Washington for more years than has Sirota.  Seems to me Sirota feels some need to overcompensate.  

      "Dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else." Paul Krugman

      by Dana Houle on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:09:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would love to see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    Romanoff in such a primary.

    Bennet has been a huge disappointment to me thus far.  I'd knock on doors for Romanoff, or really, any one going up against Bennet easy.

     

    Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down. --Robert Frost

    by NinthElegy on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 02:44:09 PM PDT

  •  Why Should He Dignify Your Insults? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhutcheson, Captain Antelope

    You've been attacking him from day one for stuff as idiotic as that his father worked in government.  

    I generally tell candidates not to do interviews with people who are only waiting to do a hit job.  Based on what you've written about him, I'd tell him to ignore you.  

    "Dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else." Paul Krugman

    by Dana Houle on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 03:06:15 PM PDT

  •  I keep forgetting who he is (0+ / 0-)

    But won't now.

    Did a quick look at  his bio, seems ok but uninspiring. No pitchforks or peace flags in his background.

    I canvassed and phone banked for Udal as a byproduct of doing the same for Obama, and I'm not so happy with Udall. People from Eldorado Springs are supposed to be a little more leftward than that.

    Every time I call my senators and congresspeople for Obama I see Benett's name and go "what?".

    I'll remember now.

  •  At last a Sirota (0+ / 0-)

    diary that doesn't blast Obama.  Still this seems like weak soup to me.

  •  Bennet must go (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    I recently attended a Bennet Meet-and-Greet, expecting to be a supporter.  His response to a question about a primary challenge settled it for me.  He said he just had a fundraiser in DC where he raised $560,000. (I don't remember the exact number.) He thought it proved he could win.  It proves HE MUST GO!  I am tired of corporatist running from Colorado as Democrats.  

    Romanoff would be an excellent senator.  He must be convinced he has a chance against Bennet's corporate money before he will jump in.  A way everyone can help is to go to a website put together by his supporters, www.runandrew.com, and help out.  

  •  The full entry (0+ / 0-)

    from Cillizza is:

    Just back from lunch with Sen. Bennet (Colo.)...sighting of @clairecmc in Senate dining room!

    So a Senator having lunch in the Senate dining room is "schmoozing"?  And anyway, how dare he eat at all when Mr. Sirota wants to talk to him!

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