Written by Dominic Dezzutti

While the various secession plans to create a 51st state in Northern Colorado have fallen flat, the fact that voters in rural Colorado are angry about being ignored is not going away any time soon. And even though that anger may not improve the odds of any significant changes in state legislative representation, it should make the statewide races in the 2014 election much more interesting.

Rural voters have made headlines recently, voicing their collective disgust at various actions of the 2013 Legislative session and how they currently feel ignored by state government. While their beef is with state legislators and the governor, other government officials and candidates are likely to feel the wrath as well.

That is where things may get interesting.

The statewide elected positions of Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General and one of Colorado’s U.S. Senate seats will all be up for grabs in the 2014 election. A few incumbents will run, but some races will feature new faces on both sides.

For some positions, like Governor and U.S. Senate, the incumbents carry a tremendous amount of advantage into the race and their own issues into rural Colorado. John Hickenlooper will have a difficult run in rural Colorado regardless of who his Republican opponent will be and Mark Udall has likely done enough to stand on his record regarding rural issues.

However, for the other offices, attracting the rural vote will be very important and not nearly as predictable. How exactly do you go about attracting votes from people who feel very ignored, but knowing that you are limited in your ability to do something about it? Also, how do you answer to the complaints of a legislative body that you may have to work with in some way if you are elected?

And, as in any other statewide elections, candidates will need to be able to speak to voters both in rural and urban settings throughout the campaign. Keeping the campaign messages consistent, but attractive to all Colorado voters, amidst this anger in rural areas, will be a difficult balancing act, to say the least.

The Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races will attract big time money, so most of the work in those campaigns will be driven by ads. However, the lower ticket statewide races will not have that luxury. Those candidates will need to work hard to get press coverage and rely on more old school ways of attracting votes.

Because those down ticket races will need to have more actual face to face time with all kinds of voters, they are likely to face more of the rural voters’ angst. And the other variable is that the frustrated voters in rural Colorado are getting more organized.

In fact, if the unrealistic secession plans lead to more pragmatic ideas to organize groups to press on specific issues, statewide candidates may run into significant organized efforts that they will need to answer to, rather than just random town hall meetings in small communities.

Add all of this together, and it looks like the 2013 legislature may have stirred up a hornet’s nest in rural Colorado that may give statewide candidates more than a few challenges in 2014.

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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