Colorado is turning blue

For the first time in many decades Democrats run the roost in the state house in Colorado. They have a majority in the state House and the state Senate, and now former DA, Democrat Bill Ritter has been elected governor.

I listened to some analysis last night on why the Republicans have been in disarray here. Bob Beauprez, the Republican candidate for governor, was “damaged goods” after an apparently nasty primary fight to get the Republican nomination. Beauprez also opposed Referendum C last year, which created an exception in our TABOR (TAxpayers Bill Of Rights) law. This created some conflict with Republicans, because Governor Bill Owens, a Republican, supported it, and so did the business community. Another factor was apparently the far right tried to make a stand here, in the Republican Party, and voters didn’t like that. I know I didn’t, though I liked Beauprez fine.

Ritter was a smart choice for Democrats. I watched him in a couple debates. His personality is approachable, and he has a charisma that, no matter what he says, makes people like him. He has a “can do” spirit, and even though I disagreed with him on the issues, he had enough of a command of them that I couldn’t dismiss him. I get the sense that he’s a moderate Democrat. Some used to say he was a conservative Democrat, but this changed during the campaign. On the downside, Ritter reminds me a bit of former president Bill Clinton. He has a smooth, I’d even say “slick”, style about him. He is not beyond “fudging” his position on an issue. That much I can tell.

One thing about him that is at odds with the population of the state is he has a tolerance for illegal immigration. He’s in favor of giving illegal aliens in-state tuition at our universities, for example. In this area he would definitely be at odds with Colorado’s longest serving governor, Dick Lamm, who is a Democrat.

I hate to say it, but Beauprez reminded me of my late grandfather. I agreed with him on some key issues, but he lacked what I guess I’d call the “fire in the belly”, the charisma, the energy for the job.

Colorado has long been a reliable “red” Republican state. Now I’m not so sure that’s the case. In 2004 Ken Salazar won a vacant Senate seat in Colorado, as a Democrat. He set an example for the Democratic Party nationally, because he was one of the few new moderate Democrats who was running for office then, and was one of the few who won. Incidentally, Ken’s brother just won a congressional race here.

Two Republicans have been elected to statewide office this time, for Secretary of State, and Attorney General. That was it. We have one Republican federal senator now, Wayne Allard., and I think two Republican federal congressmen, out of 6 seats, in our delegation. 4 out of 7 of our representatives in the House are Democrats now.

Who knows. Maybe in another 10 years we’ll be like California, or New Mexico. Could be good. Could be bad. We’ll see.

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