Big money used to bring Musgrave down


Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave was the Richard Pombo of the 2008 election, targeted by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and others for her anti-environmental votes (the League of Conservation Voters gave her a 15 percent rating this year, in 2006 she had an 8 and in 2005, a zero). The Defenders spent a total of $1.6 million on her defeat (they spent about $1.5 million to unseat Pombo in 2006). Rated as the most conservative member of the House by the American Conservative Union, Musgrave -- representing eastern Colorado including Greeley and Fort Collins -- served her three terms as a Christian, pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-labor, anti-gay legislator.

As they did with Pombo, the Defenders started attacking Musgrave early, despite conventional wisdom that voters aren't paying attention four months out from election day. Originally planning to spend about $500,000 on her race, they redirected funds from a campaign to defeat Steve Pearce when it appeared Tom Udall had the New Mexico Senate race sewn up. 

Unlike Pombo, Musgrave was not a powerful member of a committee dealing with the environment. But Defenders president Rodger Schlickeisen said "she stood out because we thought she was so out of step."

Ultimately, Democrat Betsy Markey defeated Musgrave 56 to 44 percent, although Musgrave has yet to concede the race.