During the second Colorado Senate debate on Tuesday, moderator Lynn Bartels of The Denver Post unveiled Senator Mark Udall's new nickname: Mark Uterus.
"Mr. Udall, your campaign has been so focused on women’s issues you’ve been dubbed 'Mark Uterus,'" Bartels said Tuesday night. Bartels didn't make that up — earlier this week Colorado state Representative Amy Stephens, a Republican who briefly considered the race before tossing her support to Representative Cory Gardner, told Bartels that "no one I knew could tell you a thing he's done," and that's why his singular focus on women's health issues was worth the unflattering nickname.
After last night's debate, Udall opponents argued that the senator was being mocked. Rick Wilson, a Republican media consultant, tweeted that Mark Uterus is "a lifetime stain he will never wash off." National Republican Senatorial Committee strategist Brad Dayspring tweeted "YIKES: Mark Udall is getting utterly embarrassed by the moderators. 'Mark Uterus' ?? My lord." It's also already inspired a parody Twitter account. Here's one of the better tweets:
Perhaps Udall should embrace his new nickname. There are worse reputations in blue and purple states than being known for supporting women's reproductive rights, especially when it distinguishes you from an opponent known for his support of personhood bills. That stance has gained Udall top ratings from a range of groups, from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to women's magazines like Cosmopolitan.
The problem with the nickname, of course, is that it paints Udall as a candidate who lacks substance on other issues. Bartels went on to ask Udall if his attacks, which have diminished his reputation as a centrist, had gone too far. In response, Udall said that "we've waged this campaign on plenty of other issues, we've already touched on many of them today: ISIS, immigration reform, hopefully we'll talk about energy, which is a particular passion of mine ... over half of our ads have discussed those topics."
Being called Mark Uterus isn't going to hurt Udall, it's the impression that he lacks substance on other issues that will.