If Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) was hoping to avoid controversy prior to his reelection bid this fall against Cory Gardner by voting to put the Keystone pipeline on the back burner this week for even longer, the strategy may have backfired. There have been more than a few locals unhappy with his decision to essentially stay on the fence and not risk any more political damage. Still, he tried to explain it away and split the baby.

“I am frustrated the Obama administration has taken more than five years to get to this point, but the technical review process needs to run its course,” Udall said. “That’s why I continue to vote against all amendments — Democratic or Republican — that would inject more politics into the pipeline review process.”

It wasn’t just the Republicans (who wouldn’t care much for him either way) who were getting on his case over this. The editorial board of his own hometown paper, the Denver Post, wasn’t exactly shy about calling him to task.

So it’s disappointing to see Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., once again vote against the pipeline, as he did Wednesday in the Senate energy committee.

Officially, Udall claims to have no position, his spokesman saying he “believes the technical review needs to be seen through to the end.” But nearly everyone recognizes that the delay by the federal government’s side is political, given the number of studies and how long this process has dragged on.

It would be helpful to know Udall’s position before, not after, the Obama administration officially rules on Keystone.

Udall isn’t sitting in a nearly comfortable enough place to begin swaggering. He is currently in a dead heat with Cory Gardner in pretty much every poll we’ve seen, and is currently on the watch list of seats which may flip this fall. Clearly the Senator thinks that Colorado is in the process of turning a lighter shade of purple (and it may indeed be), but this seems to be rushing it a bit.

In the meantime, Gardner is taking a different approach, sticking to a positive message. We’ll close with his latest television ad.