Politics

Q&A with Mark Udall

For Mark Udall, 2008 must seem like the perfect political storm. After seeing what could have been his one shot at the U.S. Senate pass by in 2004, when Ken Salazar’s victory was one of the few bright spots for national Democrats who lost seats in Congress and saw a George Bush re-election, what a difference four years makes.

Now the state’s leadership is fully blue, TIME magazine’s “Invisible Man” -- Wayne Allard -- is retiring (does anyone on Capitol Hill know it yet?), and the most recent Rasmussen polls have Udall up nine points on GOP rival Bob Schaffer. Add to that cosmic alignment the retirement of another Republican senatorial stalwart, Pete Domenici, in New Mexico and the robust fortunes of Udall's cousin Tom, who is currently 28 points up on his competition, Representative Steve Pearce, according to June 24 Rasmussen data.

Even for a family whose powerful western roots branch from judgeships to mayoral offices to state and national legislatures, not since 1961 has the Washington Beltway ball bounced so kindly for the Udalls, who in the early days of the Kennedy administration saw Stewart Udall named Secretary of the Interior and his brother (and former Denver Nugget) Morris “Mo” Udall take over his Arizona congressional seat for the next thirty years.

But Mark makes it clear that his family is no Camelot, and despite the major national implications of his race to a Democratic Senate that’s hoping to pick up enough seats to move within striking distance of the 60 members it needs to shut the door on Republican filibustering, he’s focused on the issues that matter to voters in Colorado. From there, he talks about Colorado’s role in renewable energy; lists the major Democratic players in the West; discusses what he considers to be western values; assesses the significance of the balloon farms on the state’s eastern plains; notes the differences between Cape Cod and Colorado Democrats; explains how he hopes to capitalize on having the Democratic convention in Denver; and illustrates how Mother Nature makes reaching across the partisan aisle an historically western virtue.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes