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What Will State Dems Reap in 2014?

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The Colorado Legislature (credit: CBS)

The Colorado Legislature (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

With both the quantity and nature of the issues that state lawmakers have taken on so far this year, it’s easy to see that both political parties will feel the impact during the 2014 election.

There are some that believe that State Democrats are moving so far and so quickly because of new found confidence along with an inability of Republicans to respond.

Curtis Hubbard’s column in Sunday’s Denver Post spoke of the state going from purple to blue and not seeing any significant players to change that from the GOP side anytime soon.

While I cannot argue with Hubbard’s logic about the current state of the GOP bench for major elected positions, the recent activity by state Dems in the legislature may give the Colorado GOP an advantage that many may not have noticed.

Most of the conversation so far is asking if Democratic candidates will be punished by voters by going too far on gun and social issues. Gun rights advocates may indeed make some headway with the amount of gun control measures that have passed, but I personally don’t think that overreach on these issues is the problem.

What may be the problem for Democrats in Colorado, is that the productivity of the 2013 legislature will take away some of their most effective weapons against the GOP in past elections.

In last year’s election, State Dems were able to motivate some voters and nearly all of their funders with the bills that the GOP killed in 2012. Dems rallied Latino voters over the fact that Republicans continued their trend of stopping any form of the ASSET bill from passing. In fact, many Democratic candidates had some of their attack ads pretty much written by how some Republicans voted and acted in last year’s session.

Last year, Republicans of all flavors were put into a position of defending the actions of some of the more conservative members of their party. Instead of being able to argue taxes and jobs, they ended up having to talk about how the Civil Unions bill died in the House.

But in 2014, the tone will be completely different.

Civil Unions will be law soon, and the issue of gay marriage will need to be a statewide vote. ASSET is on its way to becoming law, so that’s one more attack the Dems won’t have on Republicans. State Dems will have a much harder time playing the bogeyman card on many issues and without those bogeymen, Republicans may not look so bad.

Along with the lack of some bogeymen arguments, Dems may also be in a position of supporting a potential $1 billion dollar education tax hike initiative. That is a lot to take on, and it will be during the mid term elections of a sitting president, which historically are difficult for the sitting president’s party.

There’s obviously a lot of time between now and November of 2014, but the stunning speed and productivity of the 2013 legislative session may have profound side affects for State Dems. Maybe voters will embrace the activity and reward Dems for that progress. Or, maybe Dems will find themselves without the vital weapons they used to beat up the GOP in 2012 and may find a far tougher fight than they ever expected.

Personally, I think it comes down to how Republicans handle it. If they keep the conversation on the issues they have been losing on, vowing to overturn the progress, they are handing those weapons right back to the Dems. But if they take advantage of the situation, keeping the focus on new issues, they may find that the 2013 Legislative session did them more favors than they first realized.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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