In the Colorado Democratic primary for the US Senate, the media is picking up on the theme that Clinton-endorsed challenger Andrew Romanoff was defeated by Obama-endorsed appointed Senator Michael Bennet.
Not so fast.
In a series of stories that began in this space in February we noted that Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak's admission of a job offer from the White House in return for his withdrawal from the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania, if true, was in fact an allegation of a federal crime. Research discovered that lo and behold this same sort of offer had turned up in the Colorado Senate primary, with a report that Mr. Romanoff had been offered a job in return for his withdrawal.
The story gained traction. Congressman Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, began asking questions. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs began dodging press questions.
Result? For months Mr. Romanoff was in the news -- particularly in the New Media or, as it is called here, the Virtual Newsroom. Denver radio's Peter Boyles at KHOW picked up the story and I appeared with increasing frequency on the Boyles show to discuss the latest events. Boyles would not let go of the story even as the liberal Denver Post refused to pursue it. Sean Hannity followed every twist and turn in Jobsgate both on his radio and television shows, making Romanoff a household name all over America. Not mention Colorado. This resulted in months of bad press for Romanoff, culminating in a White House admission that yes, indeed, they had offered Romanoff not one job but his choice of three if he would withdraw. White House Deputy Chief of staff Jim Messina was fingered as the culprit, the name originally fingered in the lone Denver Post story on the subject in September of 2009.
Finally, Mr. Romanoff himself changed his strategy. He went public. Now he was everywhere, including the ever-persistent Fox News. To Boyles' amazement he agreed to appear on Boyles' morning show. I was invited -- although Romanoff did not know. He had ignored my calls. Doubtless he was stunned to find me on the other end of the conversation with Boyles. My first question: Would he cooperate with an Issa investigation or, if Eric Holder ever had the nerve to investigate this White House, the Justice Department? Crisply, stunned to find me there, Romanoff on-air pledged that he would. The conversation with Boyles proceeded. When it was my turn, I went back to his rationale for staying silent -- which was identical to Sestak's. The people of Colorado want to talk about jobs, he kept saying, not this… yada yada. I pointed out to him that trust in public officials was at the very heart of all other issues. If voters felt he… or Sestak… were being so blatantly untruthful on this, how could they trust him on other issues like jobs.
Romanoff, clearly miffed, picked up on my reference to once having worked for a Senator and hence having some familiarity with the basics of being seen as honest when dealing with the public and the press. He said that when elected he'd consider offering me a job as his press secretary. When the commercial break came, he hung up, refusing to participate further.
Oh well. There goes the job.
The overlooked fact, which will surely be in play for Sestak himself, is that the Sestak-Romanoff Jobsgate affair gave Mr. Romanoff a black eye. He was pounded relentlessly by Hannity on national air and Boyles on local air. Yesterday, he lost.
Aside from his decision to stay silent for months, he has one other person to thank for his defeat beside Peter Boyles and Sean Hannity: Joe Sestak.
It was Sestak who launched this entire episode by admitting to a job offer -- then refusing to say more.
It is Sestak who must now face Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania Senate election -- not the old and beatable party-switching Arlen Specter. But a young, scandal free and very smart conservative.
The Sestak-Romanoff Jobsgate scandal has just snuffed out the Senate ambitions of half of the headlining scandal-team.
Stay tuned. It's only August.
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