Michael Bennet is now Colorado’s junior senator. He has about nine months to establish his credibility as a serious candidate for election. Bennet’s advantage is that he will receive substantial media attention, which will raise his name identity, and if he handles it correctly, should improve his favorability rating. His votes and media relations can help build support both within his party and among Colorado voters at-large. But, if (and a big if), the Republicans can find a strong challenger, Bennet does not have nearly as positive environment as Mark Udall had last year in his Senate race.
• 2010 will not have G.W. Bush on the ballot. Nor will Obama be on the ballot to draw Blacks or young voters to the polls. Turnout will be lower in 2010 than the 2008 presidential, and much of that drop off will be Democratic voters.
• Bennet must cement the loyalty of his base (many of which are taking a wait-and-see attitude) while not alienating critical moderate voters.
• Bennet’s experience has been in administration. The senate is little management and much self-promotion.
• Bennet’s most significant challenge will be to shift from his 11-year experience in Denver to a statewide familiarity and credibility.
In general, Bennet has significant talent, but a big challenge ahead of him.