As many Colorado Democrats know, there is a heated primary shaping up in the Colorado Senate race between appointed incumbent Michael Bennet and former House Majority Speaker Andrew Romanoff and this Denver Post article raises an important issue about the sitting incumbent.
With a push in Congress to reform regulation over Wall Street, financial firms have been spending big, and among the major beneficiaries is Sen. Michael Bennet. In less then six months, the Colorado Democrat (Bennet) has received $401,000 from campaign donors linked to a combination of hedge funds, securities firms, insurance companies and real estate interests. Bennet's take is bested only by four senators, including Harry Reid, the powerful Senate majority leader, and Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
On the plus side, Republicans have had a history of out-fundraising Democrats, so this should be a good thing that a Democrat is well-funded, right?
This maybe the logic behind picking Bennet, especially with the Supreme Court about to decide whether corporations can give unlimited money to candidates, and undermine democracy -- as Stephen Colbert explains in this segment:
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|The Word - Let Freedom Ka-Ching|
Maybe the president endorsed Bennet because he knows that only the richest candidates will be viable in a general election, I don't know -- but the Post is raising a point about whether voters will react to the news that Bennet is raising funds from firms that received bailout money, which has been criticized in Michael Moore's latest movie.
Bennet, 44, sits on the Banking Committee as well, as the panel's most junior member. But he is also a millionaire former businessman familiar with the world of high-wire finance -- the kind of lawmaker donors may see as a potential ally as the committee rewrites the rules under which much of the financial sector will work.
But if those factors have combined to create a financial boon for Colorado's junior senator, they also present him with a political challenge: How to benefit from Wall Street's largess without appearing too cozy to his patrons.
That is a good question, and it also raises how a freshmen appointee got appointed to such a powerful position as well as this latest position.
Colorado's U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has been chosen to serve on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, a panel that is playing a key role in the health-reform debate.
He will take a seat that was left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
That is very impressive -- freshman appointee takes over Kennedy's seat -- how did he do that?
I tend to think like this statement in the Post's comments section:
He gets appointed to the Senate and racks up huge campaign donations and important committee assignments ahead of many senators with more experience. Some one is expecting something in return.
Now to be fair, Senator Bennet does state this defense:
That money "doesn't buy anything from me," said Bennet, who was appointed in January to fill the senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar. "The question for me is what we can do here to ensure that credit flows to the working families and small businesses of our state."
Voters will decide whether they trust him on that statement.
Now I have to disclose that I was wanting a primary from early on and have played my part locally to foment that cause, and I stand by my statements that the Senate appointment process is flawed and should be reformed as Russ Feingold has stated, so that we don't see the procedural acrobatics like we are seeing in Massachusetts.
But I am just one person -- so my vote is on an equal playing field -- and I want to make sure that money does not have an undue influence on how I am represented.
Looks like the Denver Post thinks that is a valid point for voters of Colorado.
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