Living in Colorado is a bit of a political shock. Democrats are in charge of
Lege the General Assembly holding a 37-28 edge in the House and an 18-17
edge in the Senate. Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was elected in 2010
during the Tea Party led Republican wave election as well as Senator Michael
Bennett who defeated Ken Buck. Senator Mark Udall is up for re-election this
cycle who is being challenged by my congressman Corey Gardner (R, CO-4).
Republicans do hold some sway in Colorado. The US House delegation is in their favor 4-3, but there is a highly competitive House race in the 6th congressional district that makes up the eastern and southern Denver suburbs.
The Secretary of State is a Republican, Scott Gessler. You might remember in 2012 Gessler was one of five secretaries of states profiled by Think Progress in their attempts to purge their state's voter rolls in order to shrink the pool of voters.
Gessler sent 3,903 letters to Colorado voters challenging their eligibility to participate in the 2012 election. Of those that received letters 40.1% were Democrats, 45.9% were unaffiliated, and 12.4% were Republicans.
Gessler's attempt at voter suppression was criticized because of the appearance of partisan targeting and pursuing the non-existent problem of voter fraud. Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle questioned these efforts saying, “I really don’t know that what the secretary’s office is chasing here is a problem in our voting system, not large numbers.”
Doyle also poised the financial question of pursuing this voter purge by saying, “(i)f you’re talking about the expenditure of resources to locate what could be just a couple, I don’t know that it is (worth the trouble).”
Larimer County Clerk Scott Doyle is a Republican.
In September 2012, Gessler abandoned his efforts to purge the voter rolls after nearly 500 people responded with proof that they were eligible to vote and nearly 90% were verified through a federal database. Gessler planned to challenge the 141 names that were up for question but did not have enough time with the 2012 election looming.
We know who won the state of Colorado in 2012. Obama carried the Centennial State 51-46 and earned the state's 9 electoral votes. 2.57 million people cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election in Colorado and Gessler was planning on targeting 141 people, a whopping 0.0055% of those that cast their ballots in that election.
There are other crazies but I will save that for another time. This is about the Colorado Republican Primary for Governor.
Gessler is one of FOUR Republicans vying for the nomination. Gessler along with Bob Beauprez and Mike Kopp will be on today's primary ballot.
And then there is Tom Tancredo.
Originally it started out with nine (yes the number 9) candidates but was later reduced to seven and then down to four at the State Republican Convention in April. Kopp and Gessler qualified by passing the 30% threshold needed among convention delegates to appear on the ballot. Even though Beauprez and Tancredo failed to qualify for the ballot at convention, they were able to get on the ballot via the signature collection process.
In May, three of the four candidates participated in a debate where they attempted to rebuke that their party had embraced policy positions that were anti-women. The debate began with the theme from… The Dating Game.
And the Republican Party wonders why they aren't doing that well among women voters.
Gessler seemed to be one who got it when asked how would they as candidates would appeal to women by mentioning there has been a tone in recent elections that have turned women off from Republicans and saying, "In recent years, the Republican Party has sometimes seemed disrespectful or harsh. We can’t come off as judgmental.”
But it is not going to help their prospects among women in 2014 when there is personhood on the upcoming November ballot which was defeated in 2008 and 2010. It does not help that they have a US Senate candidate who not only advocated for personhood but was a co-sponsor for the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act in 2011 which would have redefined rape. Two of the co-sponsors of this bill: Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) and Todd "legitimate rape" Aiken.
This is Bob Beauprez's second attempt at the governor's mansion. In 2006, Beauprez decided to leave congress and try his hand at winning the Colorado gubernatorial election. In May 2006 a photograph surfaced of Beauprez following a flight in an F-16 in a military-issued uniform.
One small detail: Beauprez never served in the military. He received draft deferments.
Vietnam War Veteran Jim Hudson made this observation to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News which is now on the Colorado Pols website:
“On the one hand, Bob Beauprez was healthy enough to letter in two sports in high school and major in physical education in college. On the other hand, Bob Beauprez says he wasn’t healthy enough to serve our country when his draft number came up after college because of an ulcer he had shortly before this picture was taken.”
Bill Ritter would win comfortably in 2006 by a 17 point margin as part of a wave election that saw Democrats nationally regain control of the US House and Senate. As for Beauprez's old US House seat, it was won and still held today by Ed Perlmutter.
Despite this, Beauprez has received support in this election from some veterans including former RNC Chairman and George W. Bush's VA Secretary Jim Nicholson.
Not much is really known about Mike Kopp beyond what is on his Wikipedia page. Colorado Pols "The Big Line" was giving Kopp 20-to-1 odds of winning the gubernatorial election. Though Kopp did win the most votes at convention, it didn't translate to any fundraising. As of May 2014 when Q1 dollars were released, Kopp raised $105K vs. $118K spent and only had $33K on hand. I think Colorado Pols is being more than generous in giving him 20-to-1 odds to win the gubernatorial election.
And then there is Tom Tancredo who is in his own category.
Tancredo, like Beauprez, served in the US House in Colorado's 6th congressional district. Prior to that he worked in the Department of Education for the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations and served in the Colorado House of Representatives starting in 1976.
Here are some of the things that Tancredo is known for.
In November 2006, Tancredo called Miami a "Third World Country."
During his brief presidential run in 2008, Tancredo called for the bombing of Mecca. Those comments were condemned by former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as well as other Republicans.
Tancredo is in support of poll tests because he believes that somehow Barack Obama snuck his way into the White House and supports impeaching the president (and even Fox News called it ridiculous).
Tancredo supported H.R. 946, the Mass Immigration Reduction Act of 2003 which would have curbed immigration for a period of 5 years. The bill only had 11 cosponsors and died in committee in March 2003.
When Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2009, Tancredo said that her being affiliated with the National Council of La Raza was the same as being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He then called her a racist.
In 2010, Tancredo ran on the American Constitution Party platform after Republicans refused to nominate him at their convention. Former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper won not only by nearly 15 points, but he won with a majority.
Now Tancredo is back as a Republican and running for Colorado governor because of the tougher background checks that Colorado passed in 2013 and believes that the Republican Party can win the Latino vote while opposing immigration reform in a column he wrote as a regular contributor to World Net Daily.
Despite Tancredo not participating in the debate and setting his own rules if he was to matchup against Governor John Hickenlooper, he could very easily win the nomination based on his fundraising and his network of supporters throughout the conservative movement.
If Texas is highlighting the rightward direction of the Republican Party during the Obama presidency and post-W. Bush era, then Colorado has to be the consequences of those actions.
Colorado is the very definition of a swing state. Starting with 1988, the margin of victory in the presidential election in Colorado has been single digits. In that time period, the Republicans have won Colorado 4 times to the Democrats 3 and only once did Colorado's electoral votes not go to the winning candidate. From 1988 to today, neither party has dominated statewide offices.
As of May 2014 per the Colorado Secretary of State website, there are 3.55 million registered voters in the state. 30.9% are registered Democrats, 31.5% are registered Republicans, 1.3% are affiliated with third parties, and 36.2% are unaffiliated with any party.
Though Colorado does have a history of tilting toward Republicans, it is tilting towards a shade of blue. Part is because voters are rejecting the direction the Republican Party is trending towards. While Republicans were able to claim Secretary of State and Treasurer and hold on to Attorney General in 2010, they were unable to claim the governor's mansion and senate seat because they ran unelectable candidates. There was Tom Tancredo's third party run and then you had Ken Buck running for the US Senate making statements like this and this.
This is a dilemma that the Republican Party faces and it is highlighted here in Colorado. You win a bruising primary by tracking rightward, but then come the general you are unable to walk back the extreme positions you had to take in order to win the primary election. It is very likely the Republican Party will keep the US House in the upcoming election, but because of the rightward positions various candidates have taken it will cost them the Senate for a third consecutive election and could have consequences
the-presidential-election-I-am-not-yet-discussing in 2016.
The winner of the Colorado Republican Primary will have a lot of baggage to deal with. Already Governor Hickenlooper is polling in the high 40s and in some cases touches 50% against all possible opponents. It does not help that they have a US Senate candidate who is suddenly in support of contraception coverage for women, but still backs efforts to define personhood. As much as 2014 is a different dynamic than 2010, it is looking like a repeat of that election.
The clown show may be over in Colorado, but the real act is just warming up.