John Hickenlooper, Mayor of Denver and Democratic nominee for Governor of Colorado, may be the single luckiest Democrat running for office this year. Only a few months ago, it looked like he was going to face a very tough election against a solid Republican candidate, Scott McInnis, in a bad political climate for Democrats. Polling had the race dead even (PDF). That was until McInnis was caught plagiarizing, creating a domino effect of unbelievable good fortune for Hickenlooper.
McInnis was caught plagiarizing much of the work he had been paid several hundred thousand dollars to produce. This did not sit well with Colorado voters, creating an opening for the only other person in the primary--political novice Dan Maes. Maes is not only an extreme conservative but also has some downright crazy ideas. For example, he thinks steps taken to make Denver more bike friendly were all part of an elaborate plot by the United Nations to take over Denver.
McInnis and Maes refused to bow out of the primary, which would have allowed the Republican Party to nominate a candidate with at least a shot of winning. This angered, among others, former Rep. Tom Tancredo. So he has filed to run for Governor on the American Constitution Party ticket.
The best result of a bad situation for Republicans was that scandal-ridden McInnis would beat conspiracy theorist Maes last night in the primary and at that point, the party could convince McInnis to drop out. That would give them a chance appoint a more electable nominee. The GOP had no such luck. Maes pulled off a squeaker victory and it sounds like he is in it to the end.
So this November, John Hickenlooper will take on both Dan Maes and Tom Tancredo. Instead of facing one extreme right-wing candidate, he gets two. Because we use a first- past-the-post election system, Maes and Tancredo are sure to split the right-leaning vote. The latest polling shows Hickenlooper with a 22-point lead in the three-way matchup. Hickenlooper is at 46 percent with Maes and Tancredo tied at 24 percent each.
There has been a lot of talk about how lucky Harry Reid (D-NV) was to get Sharron Angle as an opponent, because it gives him a better shot of winning re-election. Well, Reid's luck is nothing compared with Hickenlooper’s.
Update - PPP is out with some new polling (PDF) showing Hickenlooper in really fantastic shape. In a three way race it is Hickenlooper 48%, Dan Maes 23%, Tom Tancredo 22%.