With this year’s primary elections over — our publication deadlines mean this piece was written before winners were announced — it’s time to begin the march toward the Nov. 4 general election. That’s worth a pretty deep sigh, along with some guarded optimism.
There are a couple of reasons we hold mixed feelings about Colorado moving its party primaries from August to June.
The first is our nation’s fixation with negative political ads and what we’re already seeing broadcast on Denver TV stations. Incumbent Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, as well as the “independent” groups backing him, are already spending big bucks attacking the allegedly “anti-woman” policies of his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner.
Gardner, so far, has limited his own ads to spots with more subtle jabs at Udall, a friendly way of introducing him to an audience outside his current congressional district, but his own attack dogs will slip their leashes soon enough.
We’ve seen the Senate campaign ads in Colorado for the past several weeks. With the primaries out of the way, we’ll see even more attack ads, particularly in the state’s gubernatorial election, but also in state legislative races and, perhaps, in a few local elections, too.
That’s the down side of June elections.
But there’s a potential benefit, too. An August primary creates a roughly 10-week campaign season. That’s not a lot of time, which is why so many candidates choose to attack their opponents. The worse you can make the other guy (or gal) look in that brief time, the better you’ll look in comparison.
Putting another two months into the campaign season might just force candidates to occasionally quiver their arrows and focus, at least for a few moments, on their respective ideas for effective governance.
It’s obviously far too early to tell whether Colorado’s newly extended election season might force some honest debate instead of the usual exchange of rhetorical broadsides. But it’s certainly an idea worth trying.
In the meantime, we’ll have quick fingers on the “mute” buttons of our remotes while we see how this new-to-Colorado idea takes shape.