July 17, 2016 Updated: Today at 9:53 am
It is unwise for the political class to continue underestimating El Paso County Commissioner and U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, who consistently brings audiences to their feet.
Glenn will have the entire country’s attention Monday, when he speaks during a prime-time slot on the opening night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Americans are likely to see a rising political star, plucked from the relative obscurity of local elective office in Colorado Springs.
As a Gazette editorial argued last fall, statewide and national media have made an embarrassing mistake by mostly ignoring Glenn (see it here). The professional pundit class was quick to dismiss with Glenn’s chances after he won his party’s nomination in June to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Survey results released Tuesday by Harper Polling found Glenn within 6 points of Bennet. It is troubling news for the incumbent and only gets worse. The poll found only 38 percent believe Bennet has “performed his job as U.S. Senator well enough to deserve re-election.” The most damning finding said all-important unaffiliated voters believe “it’s time to give a new person a chance” by a margin of 36 to 28 percent.
That means a substantial chunk of unaffiliated voters — the people who decide Colorado’s elections — are in a mood to replace Bennet. All they need is a dynamic candidate, with solid credentials, who can give a good speech and relate well with the masses. They will soon get acquainted with Glenn.
A day after the Harper poll made news, a survey by Monmouth University Polling Institute claimed Bennet has a lead of 13 points over Glenn.
We’re not sure which pollster to trust, if either. Critics claim Harper favors Republicans. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, meanwhile, claims Monmouth is so biased in favor of Democrats it is “the least objective pollster in America.” Others portray Monmouth as a mom and pop, headed by a man who reveals biases in careless tweets.
Either way, each of these polls indicates trouble for Bennet and hope for Glenn. Despite Bennet’s eight years in the Senate, both surveys show he struggles with name recognition. Each found three in 10 voters have no opinion of Bennet, good or bad. Meanwhile, 70 percent have no opinion of Glenn. That means Glenn, facing a deficit of 6 to 13 points, has an enormous pool of potential supporters who have yet to learn about him or hear him talk.
Just as Glenn is known for feisty, motivational speeches, Bennet is known for a passive, soft-spoken style.
“He verges on being anonymous and can move around Colorado mostly unnoticed,” explained a 2015 article about Bennet in the Denver magazine 5280.
Bennet is often characterized as an East Coast transplant who voted with President Barack Obama 98 percent of the time, countering the will of most Coloradans by supporting the president’s dangerous Iranian nuclear arms deal. His passivity could prove costly during a populist surge that has voters looking for politicians who will counter “politics as usual” and challenge the political “establishment.”
Glenn’s credentials are impeccable and Coloradocentric. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, a lawyer and a public servant who has won landslide elections to the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Board of County Commissioners. He grew up in a Democratic household in Colorado Springs, saying he was inspired by Ronald Reagan to become the black Alex P. Keaton — referencing a liberal family’s rebel conservative teen in the old TV sitcom “Family Ties.”
Among staunch conservatives, Glenn has the rare quality of relating well with people up and down the political and socioeconomic spectrum. People like and respect him, whether they share his views.
Monday will introduce Glenn to the country. If it goes well, Americans will learn that Colorado Republicans chose a good prospect to capture another seat in the Senate.