The steps at the State Capitol played host to a pro-Israel rally last Sunday. Across the street from the rally, pro-Palestine supporters rallied as well.
This was not the first, nor will it be the last set of competing rallies for Israel and Palestine in Colorado.
But what separated this rally from others is that it took place within 100 days of a major election in Colorado. At this particular pro-Israel rally, Colorado Republican candidates were in full force, joined only by one elected Democrat, State Representative Rhonda Fields.
One rally doesn’t immediately change the allegiance of one voting bloc that can be as diverse as any other, but in races that are bound to be as close as they may be this year, it is interesting to consider how a conflict thousands of miles away may affect politics right here at home.
Just because Rep. Mike Coffman, Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo spoke at a pro-Israel rally doesn’t mean Colorado voters of Jewish ancestry will suddenly vote Republican. But it is curious to think about how minds may be swayed if the conflict intensifies, as it’s predicted to do.
The street goes both ways on this one. With any potential voter swayed by outspoken support of Israel, there is the same potential for a voter being turned off due to their support of Palestinians.
But it seems that at least the Republicans in some of the tightest races in Colorado’s election feel that there is more to gain by a firm stance than there is by riding a very thin middle ground.
The middle ground on this issue though can be just as risky as picking one side over the other.
The two sides involved are not quite interested in peace talks and lengthy ceasefires. So to simply advocate for peace is to essentially root against both sides.
If by some miracle the conflict in Gaza does settle down to some sense of a resolution or at least more peaceful scenario, much of what has happened at these rallies will be forgotten by Colorado voters.
But if the battle intensifies, will supporters of either side demand that the candidates who have yet to take a stand, to take one? That may not guarantee that the candidates in question do so, but again, the issue would continue to play a role in Colorado politics.
While neither the pro-Jewish contingent nor the pro-Palestinian contingent in Colorado is big enough to solely sway the results of one race, if the conversation becomes more focused on the Gaza Conflict, then it will likely focus on other foreign affairs issues. That is not good news for Democrats during this tumultuous year of international politics.
There is no simple way to handle this issue for candidates. Some Republican candidates have chosen one side and will reap both the benefits and risks that come with it. Other candidates will roll different dice hoping the middle ground provides more safety than risk. No position, even maintaining “no position”, will do on this one.
If the conflict continues, expect the impact on Colorado politics to continue and to rapidly bring much more passion and its own conflict along for the ride.
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– 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.