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Will The VA Controversy Swing Voters in Colorado?

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The clinic in Fort Collins (credit: CBS)

The clinic in Fort Collins (credit: CBS)

Dominic Dezzutti By Dominic Dezzutti
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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As our country gets ready to commemorate Memorial Day this weekend, the growing controversy surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs has the potential to have a big affect on Colorado’s election.

Colorado’s own VA hospital has come under scrutiny for construction delays and problems. Rep. Mike Coffman has been the most vocal locally as the VA hospital is in his district and likely due to the fact that he has served in the armed forces.

But most of Colorado’s congressional delegation has voiced their concerns over the VA mess, and no one is coming out in defense of some of the egregious things that have reportedly occurred.

It’s not like there are two clear sides to this issue. If even a small percentage of the reported problems have happened, it’s a travesty and a tragedy that no candidate, Republican or Democrat will argue with.

However, even though there is no disagreement over how we should treat our veterans, the fact that this is happening on President Obama’s watch may be a problem for Democrats.

It isn’t as if Veterans Affairs ran smoothly under George W. Bush. Republicans running during his administration paid for those sins and Democratic candidates are likely to pay for sins under the Obama administration as well. It didn’t help to see the President double down on his support of Secretary Shinseki on Thursday.

It may seem unfair for candidates to pay for transgressions that they could not affect directly, but that is the nature of politics in the United States, especially currently.

Colorado features two major races getting national attention. Expect huge ad buys in support of both Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman that will tie Mark Udall and Andrew Romanoff to what’s going on with the mess in the VA.

While it will be a significant issue for the Senate race, it has the potential for a far more profound affect in the Sixth Congressional District.

First, a great deal of voters with direct and indirect ties to the military live in the Sixth Congressional district. What also needs to be taken into consideration is how many military personnel and families are Hispanic.

Hispanics represent a major swing vote in the Sixth Congressional District and in what’s expected to be a tight race, every factor of the electorate must be taken into consideration.

I realize that there will be many issues that will decide the 2014 election in Colorado and that solutions may be found for the quagmire that is currently the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But as we celebrate one of our country’s most important and solemn holidays, we cannot take for granted the passion voters have for our country’s heroes and how this issue may be remembered when voters hit the ballot box later this year.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

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.

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