Open Season on Democrats: Betsey Markey (Colorado)

Posted: Apr 08, 2010 12:01 AM
Open Season on Democrats: Betsey Markey (Colorado)

This is part of a series that's National Political Reporter Jillian Bandes is doing on electorally vulnerable Democrats called "Open Season."

Betsey Markey had an interesting week.

The freshman Democratic Congressman from Colorado reported a whopping $505,000 haul for the first quarter of her campaign, earning her a front-page profile on the Washington Post on Monday. On Wednesday, she held an hour-long tele-town hall, confirming that she was solidly in campaign mode after a month of hard voting.

She’s probably right to step up the campaign mode, because her votes were indeed hard. Markey was one of only eight Democratic Congressmen who flipped their votes on Obamacare from "no" to "yes" after Obama twisted their arms the second time around.

Markey claims her come-again was because the health care bill reduces the deficit.

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"The clincher was the CBO score,” she told the Post.

Andrew Moylan, Director of Government Affairs at the National Taxpayers Union, called that logic “absurd.”

“That’s a ridiculous claim, because everyone knows that that CBO score was gamed within an inch of its life,” said Moylan. “They basically created a bill with several things that they knew would never actually happen, that provide savings, like cuts in reimbursements to doctors, that they claimed would reduce the deficit.”

The Post also reported on Markey’s favorable reception in her home district during the Easter recess, gloating over her prospects like a child in a toy store. Local media had also written favorable reviews of her come-again vote. But Markey’s almost-certain Republican opponent, Cory Gardner, says that Markey should probably think twice before doing the happy dance.

“As far as the numbers go, $355,000 out of her $505,000 came after she decided to change her vote on health care. What’s curious to me is exactly where the money’s coming from,” said Zach Lahn, the deputy campaign manager for Gardner's campaign. “After her ‘aye’ card check vote, she saw a huge influx of money from out of state. And we’re expecting that trend to continue.”

In other words, Coloradans may not be proving their allegiance with their pocketbooks. Lahn pointed out that Corey has out-raised Betsey Markey in the state of Colorado during the previous quarter, and that both the Service Employees International Union and Democratic National Committee have both spent a quarter million dollars on television advertising so far with more than seven months to go before the actual election. Gardner, on the other hand, seems to have strong state ties.

“We had an outpouring of emails and donations after Markey changed her vote from no to yes, because I believe a lot of people knew what was coming,” said Lahn. “We’ve had people coming in daily asking how they can help out with the campaign, which is rather early in a non-Presidential year. It’s very encouraging for us.”

Gardner, a fifth-generation Coloradan, is optimistic about his chances given Markey’s vulnerability and his own strong conservative principles in a District that voted for a Democrat – Markey – for the first time in thirty-six years. Markey’s own election came with the wave of Obama Democrats in 2008, defeating three-term incumbent Marilyn Musgrave.

Gardner, a former Member of the Colorado State House of Representatives, was praised by the Denver Post as “the GOP Idea Man.” The Centennial State is also home to one of the strongest tea party organizations in the country.

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