Obama pushes immigration off until after November and Udall should be very, very afraid

Obama's postponement of an immigration decision could ultimately be the downfall of Mark Udall. (photo from Denverjeffrey

Mark K. Matthews --- The Denver Post 

WASHINGTON — By postponing action on immigration reform until after Election Day, President Barack Obama may have provided a boost to vulnerable Senate Democrats running in conservative states such as Arkansas and North Carolina.

But the political punt, which spares some allies from dealing with the contentious issue in November, ultimately could backfire on a fellow Democrat: Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, who faces Republican Cory Gardner in one of the nation's hardest-fought Senate races.

Unlike many of his peers up for re-election, Udall represents a state with a large Latino community, estimated at 21 percent of the population and 14 percent of the electorate, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Just as noteworthy, Colorado is home to an outspoken immigrant-rights movement that could tip the scales in a tight race.

Democrats need Udall to survive to have a fighting chance at keeping control of the upper chamber. But they need to win a slate of other races too, a situation that has put fellow Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, who is not on the ballot, in a tough spot as well.

As a member of a bipartisan groups of senators, Bennet was instrumental in the Senate's passage last summer of a landmark immigration bill.

But in his role as chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Bennet is in charge of defending his party's Senate majority. The responsibility places him in a situation that pulls him in two directions on immigration. One strategy could help his party win this year. The other could help Udall and advance Bennet's own vision of reform.

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