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Appointed Colorado Senator Bennet Looks Wobbly

10:49 AM, Apr 27, 2009 • By GARY ANDRES
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Several data points suggest appointed Colorado senator Michael Bennet is headed for some rough political sledding as he approaches his first statewide election next year. Bennet was appointed by the state's Democratic governor to fill the seat vacated when President Obama picked Colorado senator Ken Salazar for his cabinet.

First there was this news report that only 10 people turned out to one of his recent events in the state.

Next, Public Policy Polling (Democratic firm) released the results of this survey saying Bennet is not off to a great start when it comes to voter support.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com agrees Bennet is a bit shaky.

He wrote this recently on his website, handicapping the Senate election environment:

Bennet risks squeezing himself by being too far to the right of the primary electorate, while still being too far to the left to placate religious conservatives in Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. Moreover, as he's never run for public office before, there is no guarantee that he'll prove to be a competent candidate. Colorado is the one state, aside from Connecticut, where Democrats could potentially improve their lot with a primary challenge.

Republican electoral strategist Jim Ellis, who writes for Prism Information Network, reached a similar conclusion in an email he sent out last week.

With approval and ballot test numbers such as those rendered in this latest PPP study, it is evident that the Colorado Senate race will move up on the GOP priority list and again lead to Democrats questioning both the President for removing a strong Senator from a politically marginal state, and Governor Ritter for appointing an untested replacement. While the two selections may certainly achieve various policy goals, they appear to have opened the door for a strong political challenge that otherwise would have been avoided.

Given recent political trends in the state, and depending on whom Republicans nominate, Colorado could become one of the most competitive Senate races in 2010.