Colorado’s recall elections on Tuesday captured national headlines as everyone eagerly anticipated how voters would respond to the thousands of dollars that came into Colorado from gun control proponents and opponents.
But the story of Tuesday’s recall goes much farther than gun control politics and outside campaign funds for Colorado’s Democratic party.
While both State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron lost their bids to keep their jobs, the margin of victory in Giron’s race may be a sign of larger problems for Democrats.
The conventional wisdom was that John Morse had the greater challenge to overcome since his district was far more balanced than Giron’s and that as Senate President, Morse had a higher profile on many controversial issues.
However, when the dust settled, Morse only lost by 2 points, where Angela Giron lost by 12 points.
This was surprising on many levels, not the least of which was how much of a registered voter advantage Democrats hold in Giron’s former district.
Giron’s loss may point to a bigger problem that Colorado Democrats may have in former strongholds not in the Denver metro area.
While it may be tempting to blame Giron’s loss purely on the amount of money brought in by gun control opponents alone, I think that would be missing a bigger picture. With the kind of advantage Democrats hold in her district, to lose by that margin must have meant that Pueblo Democrats have more problems with what’s going on in the legislature than previously understood.
Democrats in Pueblo are the closest folks in Colorado to what I would call “old school” Democrats. These are Democrats that might actually be conservative on some issues and have an authentic mix of rural and progressive values. Frankly, these moderate voters would likely find more to disagree with most Denver Democrats than agree.
That’s not to say that Pueblo Democrats are not authentically true blue Democrats. But it is to say that even though the 51st state initiative is seen as a northern Colorado Republican issue, obviously there are folks in Southern Colorado, that are not necessarily Republicans, who have a problem with focus of the state legislature.
Now the interesting battle to watch will be for the hearts and souls of all rural voters, not just conservative Republicans, in 2014. If GOP candidates can expand their tent to include the values of rural Democratic voters, like the ones that just helped to oust Angela Giron, control of the legislature can get interesting. Republicans may not be able to regain majorities in both the House and the Senate, but if they can all but seal everything that isn’t in Denver and Boulder, that will make quite a statement. It will also make future statewide races far more interesting.
But remember, to do this, either Democrats or Republicans must make a concerted move to the middle on some issues. Democrats change easier than Republicans do, but the GOP has the opportunity edge.
The question is, which party will win the race for voters like Pueblo Democrats, who represent a much larger group of voters in Colorado who are, seemingly at this moment, very up for grabs.
2014 should be a very interesting year in politics indeed.
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 usually 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 is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.