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Finally, Some Good News For Hickenlooper

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A protester holds a "Recall Hickenlooper" sign during the governor's visit to Grand Junction in March. (credit: CBS)

A protester holds a “Recall Hickenlooper” sign during the governor’s visit to Grand Junction in March. (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Gov. John Hickenlooper has taken more than his fair share of hits over the past few months. While the legislative session certainly could have gone worse for him, it was still bruising on many fronts. Between getting beat up on gun control issues and fracking, it’s been a tough haul lately.

Fortunately, he received some good news this week that should make his weekend very relaxing. Both Tom Tancredo and Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced this week that they are thinking about running for governor in 2014.

If that news can’t make him happy, then very little else can.

Now, I am not making light of either Tancredo or Gessler in general. Gessler is a dedicated, albeit at times overzealous, Secretary of State for Colorado. And while many may disagree with Tancredo’s stance on immigration, one must give him credit for consistency.

My point is that despite their many positive qualities as people, they would both provide the exact kind of competition that would propel Hickenlooper to a second term with little to no effort.

Gessler and Tancredo both represent the kind of Republican candidate that would do an excellent job of shoring up support among GOP voters, but would do a terrible job cementing support from independent voters in Colorado.

As everyone knows, elections are won and lost solely among the unaffiliated voter group. They are a significant force and one of the strengths that Hickenlooper held in his previous election. Both Gessler and Tancredo would not spend a great deal of time courting these voters, rather they would spend a great deal of time reinforcing their staunch GOP credentials, leaving the middle waiting for a suitor.

There are those that believe that rural Coloradans are very upset with both the governor and Democratic lawmakers based on new gun control measures and a new renewable energy mandates for rural energy co-ops. That may very well be true, but I think that would mostly apply to conservative rural voters. Progressive rural voters may actually support the recent moves made. Again, this would leave only the independent rural voters up for grabs. But for that to really matter, those independent rural voters must not only be upset with Hickenlooper, but also support a staunch Republican.

That’s the rub.

John Hickenlooper may very well indeed have angered unaffiliated voters with some of what happened in the session. But, did he anger them enough to vote for anyone else, even if that other person is solely representing the Republican platform?

The answer is no. At this point, he simply has not done enough to alienate the middle to the point that any Republican can simply pick up his votes.

Just because Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler have announced they are thinking about running for governor is no guarantee they will actually run or even win the GOP nomination.

Hickenlooper’s luck may eventually run out on this one. But, if either do end up as his general election opponent, John Hickenlooper’s run as Colorado’s luckiest politician will still be firmly intact.

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 on Colorado Public Television.

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