Against the Odds


Bill Ritter is a prolife Democrat with a good shot at besting his fellow Catholic, Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez, in their race to become Colorado’s next governor. Ritter has been running slightly ahead in the polls for months, and he has surprisingly strong support in the business community. His negative ratings are nowhere near as high as those of his opponent, whom a fellow Republican competitor indelibly tagged as “Both-Ways Bob.”

Ritter, the popular forty-nine-year-old former Denver D.A., was not his party’s first choice, it’s true. Until the last possible moment, Democrats at the state and national levels were still yoo-hooing out the window, trying to recruit a primary opponent to run against him: Somebody? Anybody?

But their grudging support for Ritter is now as crucial for them as it is for him-more than they know. The Democratic Party won’t win back the Catholic vote it lost in 2004 without showing a new willingness to back prolife candidates like Ritter. And even more than the Pennsylvania senatorial race between two better-known prolife Catholics-Republican incumbent Rick Santorum and his Democratic challenger, Bob Casey Jr.-the Colorado race does signal such an opening. (A reluctant one, yes, but we can work on attitude later.)

Because Santorum is such a-let us say-special case, the Democratic Party’s embrace of Casey doesn’t necessarily signal anything beyond desperation....

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About the Author

Melinda Henneberger, a Commonweal columnist, is the former editor-in-chief of