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Why Bennet Won't Win in My Hometown

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It is little wonder Michael Bennet is behind in two recent polls. He doesn't have a message to sell to his own supporters. He can't even wake up his party to fight.

Sheer numbers of Democratic voters alone would have assured a large lead for Bennet, but somehow the pollsters can't find any traction in his message.

True, he has been a serving Democratic senator while running against a groundswell movement that smells blood. But senators are supposed to know how to handle local upstarts while governing.

What Bennet may or may not understand is that Colorado has traditionally flirted with cutting government. Now there's a movement that wants to cut well past the bone. It was this time last year when Measure 2C was on the ballot in Colorado Springs, asking voters to approve a measure that would allow the city council to run on the same budget as the year before. It was hardly a profligate spending measure from its proponents -- moderate Republicans. But the Tea Party, well funded through national sources, soundly defeated the measure by a two-to-one margin. Democrats of all stripes failed to show up in a county that once turned out enough Democrats for Obama to turn the state from red to blue.

And now during an off-year election Bennet may have missed an opportunity to meet the Tea Party on their home turf in El Paso County by giving Colorado Springs some much needed administrative, financial and moral support. After all, it is a city running its operations on little more than smoke and mirrors. He could have come here with a bag of money to finance the city's beleaguered transit system with a stimulus support package. But then Bennet turned down Obama's money.

There is a precedent. It was the Colorado Springs mayor who first turned down $39 million in stimulus money because he didn't want the city to add to the federal government's deficit, taking a page from the Tea Party manual on intimidating weak incumbents.

Later in the year Colorado Springs didn't have enough sand and salt to keep major roads open during an ice storm. Many street lights in the city went dark. Imagine standing on the street corner where there are no lights and you're waiting for a bus that may or may not arrive because bus service was drastically cut back. The city didn't have enough money to fix the city's only recreational lake so kids could go boating or swimming this summer. There wasn't enough money for fireworks on July 4.

Bennet is behind in the polls because he doesn't have a message on how he will improve the lives of his constituents. He can't even wake up his party to fight.