"Colorado is a land of contrasts. You have the very liberal capital city of Denver where Governor Hickenlooper was the mayor of the city and nearby University of Colorado at Boulder. The city has seen a boom in the medical marijuana industry. Travel south on I-25 and you end up in Colorado Springs home of the conservative organization Focus on the Family."
That is what I wrote in October 2012 in my analysis of the swing states leading up to that year's presidential election.
Now that I live in Colorado I can provide a more detailed observation on Colorado politics.
Since then a lot has happened in Colorado. President Obama won Colorado in November 2012. His result in Colorado closely mirrored that of the national popular vote. According to Nate Silver, Colorado was the tipping point state in that cycle. It was also Obama's tipping point state in 2008. Democrats at
The Lege General Assembly in Denver kept control of the
state senate and were able to
take back control of the state house.
In that same election voters approved a ballot initiative that allowed the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes and went into effect in January 2014. The state legislature in 2013 passed stronger background checks prior to purchasing firearms that resulted in one state senator being recalled and another resigning that same year.
Also that same year the state legislature passed a civil unions bill that allowed same-sex couples some recognition of their relationship. Marriage equality officially came to Colorado this month when the Supreme Court refused to hear challenges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the constitutionality of banning same-sex couples from marrying.
For the second time in four years, Colorado has a competitive senate race and it could determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.
As I have mentioned in a previous writing about the Colorado Republican Party, they have tried to make gains in Colorado but have failed in previous cycles trying to capture the two most visible statewide seats: US Senator and Colorado Governor.
The trend began in 2004 when Ken Salazar won despite the state sending its 9 electoral votes to President George W. Bush. In 2006, Bill Ritter won the gubernatorial election in a year that was favorable for Democrats that cycle. Senator Mark Udall (CO, D) was elected to the US Senate in 2008. Like a lot of senators that were elected that cycle, they were part the wave election that increased the Democratic majorities in Congress and the presidential election of Barack Obama. Udall won his senate race 53-42, nearly mirroring Obama's 54-45 Colorado result.
In 2010, the Republicans ran Ken Buck for US Senate. The polls and forecasters predicted that Buck would be the next Senator from Colorado. Michael Bennett, who was appointed to replace Salazar when he was nominated to head the Interior Department, won that election 48-47. In that same election former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was elected governor over Tom Tancredo who opted to run as a third party candidate after losing the 2010 Republican primary and ending up losing that year's Colorado gubernatorial by a 51-36 margin.
Now both Udall and Hickenlooper are facing tough re-election campaigns.
Governor Hickenlooper is going up against former Congressman Bob Beauprez. In 2006 Beauprez declined to run for another term in Colorado's 7th congressional district and opted to run for governor. He lost by 17 points. He also has a long history of saying crazy things in the past eight years. Earlier this year a tape surfaced from a speech he gave four years ago that had a similar tone as Mitt Romney's 47% comments.
Udall was originally slated to go against Ken Buck, but the Colorado Republican Party wised up and decided to allow Cory Gardner (CO-4, R) to run for the US Senate and let Ken Buck run in Gardner's district. As of this writing I currently live in CO-4 and it is VERY likely that Ken Buck will be my representative come January 2015 because the district has a Cook VPI of R+12 as it encompasses most of eastern Colorado.
If you recall in November 2013 several counties in northeastern Colorado voted to secede from the state. The only other time that has happened was West Virginia forming their own state from Virginia in 1863 during the Civil War. The vote to form North Colorado was a fool's errand because you would have needed approval from the state of Colorado and then approval from the federal government.
In the 11 counties where that question was on the ballot, 6 voted against forming a new state but officials said they would look into resolving the urban-rural divide that exists in our state.
Gardner was the Republican's best hope to win the senate seat given the candidate field. Though the polls are showing Gardner leading it is probably much closer than people think.
Colorado is a swing state, but due to its demographics it is a trending blue battleground state and because of the work that the Colorado Democratic Party has put into turning it into a state they have won in the last two presidential elections and the 2010 senate and gubernatorial elections (ahem, Texas, you REALLY should be listening to this).
One thing that the Colorado Democrats have in their favor is the ground game. I have been block walking, canvassing, and phone banking for Senator Udall and Andrew Romanoff in CO-6. I have also done phone banking for Governor Hickenlooper and Attorney General candidate Don Quick with the LGBT organization One Colorado.
During my runs into the Denver suburb of Centennial I have seen yard signs for various Republican candidates, but here is the thing about yard signs: they don't knock on doors, make phone calls, and most importantly they don't vote.
I have made phone calls for Democratic candidates. My family members and I that live in Colorado have yet to receive Republicans phone calls. Now two family members and I have Texas area codes. And there is a funny story about this. During a phone bank in September, I got a phone call from the county Democratic Party inviting me to a dinner. The thing was that the person calling me was at the same phone bank as I was.
I have blocked walked for Senator Udall and Congressional Candidate Romanoff in Highlands Ranch. Though it is a safe Republican area, I have yet to see Republican block walkers. None have left literature or knocked on my door. During a recent canvassing, I saw a Democratic state rep candidate knocking on doors.
I have left literature on voters' doors I have in my canvassing packet about voting in Colorado and Andrew Romanoff. The items I have seen on doors has been sales and a Planned Parenthood door hanger. During a recent canvassing I saw literature from the Koch Brother's backed Americans For Prosperity on three doors. That brings the total to: three.
The polls have consistently shown Cory Gardner leading in the polls among likely voters but only within the margin of error. Recently a few polls have come out showing Mark Udall leading, but again it is within the margin of error.
Four years ago, Ken Buck was in the same position as Cory Gardner. Though Gardner has been consistently leading in recent polls, here are some things that I think that will lead to a Udall victory.
For starters the above mentioned turnout operation. The Democratic turnout machine in Colorado is based here in the state. The Republican turnout machine is relying on the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove. Yes, THAT Karl Rove who like the Koch Brothers have been running ads on television through his organization Crossroads GPS.
Which I ask: why hasn't Rove disappeared after he wasted all those rich peoples' dollars trying to defeat Obama in 2012?
In 2010, that Democratic turnout machine saved Senator Michael Bennett. It should be expected to save Senator Udall and Governor Hickenlooper.
The second factor is Jefferson County or as the natives call it "JeffCo". This suburban county located west of Denver is key to who wins the state. In 2008 Obama carried JeffCo by a 9 point margin. In 2010 Hickenlooper won JeffCo 51-42 while Bennett's win that county that year was 48-46. And in 2012, Obama won JeffCo 51-47 closely mirroring the statewide result and the national popular vote.
As the saying goes: "As JeffCo goes, so goes Colorado."
The JeffCo school board has received a lot of national attention in part due to the rightward direction it took after the 2013 elections. Teachers have walked out due to pay disputes and students have protested the new proposed AP curriculum that only highlights the so-called positive aspects of American history. It should be noted that this curriculum proposition has its roots from Texas.
The rightward direction of the school board is traced to one issue: Democrats DID NOT show up to vote in that 2013 election. I'm sure they are ready to enact some ballot revenge and take their anger out on anyone who has an R next to their name.
And there is one more item and it has to do with one of the initiatives that is on my ballot here in Colorado.
Personhood is the concept that anytime an egg and a sperm join together in fertilization it is considered a person. This effort is seeking to ban abortion and also certain types of birth control. The consequences of this being passed is that could also impact couples who depend on in vitro fertilization in order to have children of their own.
The concept is so radical that MISSISSIPPI voted against it in 2011.
This is not the first attempt to change the Colorado constitution. In 2008, the question was posed as Amendment 48. It failed: 73-27.
It returned in 2010 as Amendment 62. It failed: 71-29.
And now it is back in 2014 as Amendment 67.
One of the sponsors of personhood is Cory Gardner who is running for the US Senate. Gardner said in March 2014 that he no longer supports personhood, but he still supports it in the House despite his commercials and his platform supporting over the counter contraception.
Gardner tried to say that he no longer supports personhood during the final senate debate, but the moderators called Gardner out on his position.
The only way that Gardner can take his name off the bill is if he was to give a speech on the House floor saying he no longer supports it.
The House will be returning to work
never until after the midterm elections.
No dummy. I may have taken high school health in Texas, but even I know that is not correct.
Because of their inability to distance themselves from the extreme social issues of their party, they will lose in Colorado. It will probably mirror that of 2010, but I cannot imagine a scenario where personhood goes down at the ballot and Gardner winning. For the second consecutive election and also like in 2010 the Republicans will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in their efforts to regain the majority in the Senate.
The one factor is whose supporters will show up at the polls.
I am ready with my ballot.