The game plan for candidates like Romanoff appears to be: adopt your competition's failed economic agenda, make yourself your opponent's pallid shadow, and base your campaign on issues, positions and priorities which have little or no support among voters.
That's not just a bad strategy. It will also be very difficult to execute. As will inevitably happen in many Democratic races, the National Republican Congressional Committee pointed to Romanoff's past support for the stimulus and said "It's dishonest for Andrew Romanoff to criticize the mountain of government debt he helped create."
The "government debt" canard is a silly critique, one which Romanoff could easily refute -- if he hadn't already abandoned his ideological post by running away from much-needed government investment. The stimulus didn't create debt. It helped reduce long-term debt by spurring modest growth and offsetting the job losses caused by the financial crisis. What's more, its objectives were consistent with the electorate's priorities. Its only problem, as any good economist will tell you, is that it wasn't large enough.
Candidates like Andrew Romanoff could choose to campaign on jobs and growth. That would be a winning approach, even in red districts, with voters who are fearful of the economic future. But when they choose to echo Republican messaging instead, they leave themselves defenseless against attacks like the one Romanoff is facing.
If this were to become a common pattern among Democrats, voters would lose an essential feature of democracy: the ability to choose between two competing visions. The nation would be deprived of a debate on critical economic issues, and the future would become darker for everyone.
It would also raise a compelling question about a lot of Democratic politicians and strategists: When will they ever learn?