In a do-or-die Election Night, Colorado’s Republican Party finally delivered. Thanks to strong campaign strategies and abysmal Presidential approval ratings, Colorado’s GOP finally was able to celebrate on Election Night.

Winning a major statewide race for the first time since 2002 puts the Colorado GOP back in the limelight and more importantly for them, back in the majority.

But while Election Night seemed like a GOP landslide, Colorado simply returned to its purple roots. Frankly, many political pundits were openly wondering if Colorado had turned blue since 12 years had gone by since a Republican won a major statewide race.

U.S. Senator-elect Cory Gardner (R-CO) celebrates with friends and family behind him after being declared the winner in the race at the Colorado Republican party's election night event at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt on November 4, 2014. Gardner defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

U.S. Senator-elect Cory Gardner (R-CO) celebrates with friends and family behind him after being declared the winner in the race at the Colorado Republican party’s election night event at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt on November 4, 2014. Gardner defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

So while the GOP enjoys the new momentum, they would be wise to remember that while the pendulum is swinging back to the right, it started fairly far to the left.

The 2014 election was not a mandate, but more of a protest of the President and a sign of waning popularity of other Democratic leaders. It is not a guarantee that the GOP agenda is one that voters are embracing fully.

The fact that Colorado is bright purple once more will have three very important ramifications for the next two years in the Centennial State.

First, because we will have a split legislature, the era of one sided bills storming through the legislature is over for at least two years. That should actually be good for both parties. Neither party should be able to pass sweeping laws that usually end up being a liability, like the gun and energy bills were for Dems after the 2013 session.

Second, the presidential race in 2016 was always going to be a big deal in Colorado. But that fact we are firmly purple, we will be a major target for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. If you thought Colorado endured a lot of attention in 2012 and 2014 from national sources, just wait for 2016.

Finally, the big issue in Colorado in the next two years will be fracking. Neither party really has a clear advantage on the issue, but both parties could suffer from their own reactionary wings.

The big deal is this. 2016 will have a laser focus from both parties to either extend control or regain it. Senator Michael Bennet will be running for re-election and Republicans will be looking to go red for a GOP presidential candidate. Hanging over all of their heads will be the fracking issue.
Bennet will not want progressive Dems to run far reaching local control fracking bans that could push independent voters to Republicans. Meanwhile, GOP candidates will not want to be forced to defend the oil and gas industry for the very same reason.

Because we are a new shade of purple, the fracking fight is going to be especially sensitive to both parties. It will be important for leaders on both sides of the aisle to manage this time bomb very carefully.

We knew it was going to be an historic night, whoever won. But we also now know the impact that Colorado turning purple will have for all of us in the next two years.

Enjoy the short respite from electioneering while you can. Our newly applied coat of purple will guarantee our respite will be short.

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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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