TRAIL MIX | Predictors from all walks of life vote on Colorado’s 2022 election |
As the 2022 election year approaches, it’s important to keep in mind a few indisputable political realities: Colorado tends to genuinely love its governors, and Democrat Michael Bennet is one of the luckiest politicians in the world. the planet.
These were among the nuggets handed out by a three-party trio of seasoned strategists who gathered for a panel discussion at the Foothills Republicans monthly reunion on December 9 at the Fox Hollow clubhouse in Lakewood.
The strategists were Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP president, at right; Eric Sondermann, longtime political consultant and columnist for Colorado Politics, in the middle; and Mike Dino, director of the Denver government affairs office, Squire Patton Boggs, left.
With over a century of political experience between the two of them, they’ve been on too many campaigns to list, though each are known for great victories that have propelled their careers: Wadhams helped elect Gov. Bill Owens and the American senses Bill Armstrong and Wayne Allard; Sondermann helped Dick Lamm; and Dino helped Wellington Webb become mayor of Denver.
For an hour and a half, they gave their assessment of the state’s political climate, traded war stories, answered questions, and made some predictions about next year’s election. Their verdict: Colorado Republicans have a chance to regain some of the ground they lost in a series of elections that left the party with less power than the GOP had held in generations.
Mainly, this is because the electorate could pass their frustrations on to those in power, and Democrats hold almost everything in the reins, from the White House to Congress to the Colorado executive branch and both houses of government. the general Assembly.
It’s similar to the situations of 2010 and 2014, when the Colorado GOP overturned some of the victories the Democrats had in previous elections – toppling two members of the United States House, replacing the state treasurer and winning. control of the State House of Representatives by a narrow margin in 2010; and, toppling a US Senator and taking control of the State Senate in 2014.
Last month’s off-year election in Virginia and New Jersey, where Republican gubernatorial candidates outclassed former President Donald Trump’s share of the double-digit 2020 votes, suggest it is either an omen of things to come in Colorado or a timely awakening. for Democrats, strategists said.
Glenn Youngkin, the Republican who won the governorship in Virginia, rocked the Virginia electorate by about 13 points from Trump’s performance a year earlier when the former president lost the state in favor of Democrat Joe Biden by 11 points, and the vote shifted to the Republican at the top of the ticket by about 15 points in New Jersey, a state carried by Biden by about 16 points, although the swing did was not enough to give the GOP candidate a victory this year.
A swing of about 14 or 15 points would throw Colorado at the Republicans, as Biden won the state by 13.5 points, but that could be a big hurdle.
Wadhams said Biden’s plummeting approval ratings could pave the way for Republicans.
“President Biden, we all know, has horrible poll numbers,” he said. “Biden is in trouble right now. The question is, what does this have to do with the 2022 elections?
“His numbers are now as bad as Obama’s before the 2010 and 2014 elections. And that’s when Republicans swept Congress. The question is, can he come back? Can he get this ship repaired? Are Republicans Overly Confident?
Dino cautioned against drawing too many parallels between an off-year election in Virginia and a midterm term in Colorado, even though the states’ demographics and political history share some common characteristics, including an electorate of growing and well-educated suburb and a constant shift from red to blue over the past twelve years.
Still, he added, the Virginia election should push Colorado Democrats to prepare for a tough fight next year.
“I think there have been some issues – about education, critical race theory – that Democrats struggle with, especially in states like Colorado, where a lot of Democrats have felt really emboldened because of it. many victories, ”he said.
“The biggest lesson I learned from this year’s election is that Republicans have succeeded by keeping President Trump in the background and really keeping him at bay. And I think it’s going to be tough for some, because if Trump is ahead here in Colorado. This is going to be difficult for Republicans.
“It’s not a 14-point Democratic state if you take Donald Trump out of the equation,” Sondermann said. “It is still a democratic state, but not at the scale of 14 points. Before Donald Trump arrived, Colorado Democrats were reasonably and consistently in the 5, 6, and 7 point stage. Donald Trump has managed to double that number. Is there a reversal of this magnitude in-store in Colorado? All the stars would have to line up correctly. God knows the Democrats and the President are helping align some of these stars. The inhabitants of the region will have to lead the best campaigns of their lives here. This party will have to be willing and able to put the former president in the rearview mirror.
Wadhams reminded Republicans that Owens is at this point the only Republican governor elected in Colorado in the past 50 years, since John Love was reelected in 1970.
Plus, it will be 60 years since Colorado voters sent an incumbent governor to pack his bags, when Love defeated Democrat Steve McNichols in 1962.
“There is something about Colorado. We love to love our governors, ”Wadhams said, adding,“ I certainly haven’t, but I think the state as a whole has. “
He said Polis could be vulnerable in a way that his Democratic predecessors Lamm, Roy Romer and John Hickenlooper were not, as his approval numbers are not as high as those belonging to his Democratic predecessors prior to their candidacy. for re-election, although Polis, a tech entrepreneur who funded his 2018 victory to the tune of $ 23 million, also has a huge advantage in being able to fund himself.
“He can put $ 20 million in a race as easily as I can put a five dollar bill on this table,” Wadhams said, adding: “It will take an exceptional candidate who can aggressively go past the votes with a clear program. to win this race. “
During the same 60-year period, the Coloradans refused to fire a governor seeking re-election, state voters elected four incumbent senators – Republican Peter Dominick in 1974, Democrat Floyd Haskell in 1978, the Democrat Mark Udall in 2014 and Republican Cory Gardner in 2020 – perhaps opening the door to Republican chances next year as Bennet runs for a full third term.
Senators, the panelists agreed, are more subject to the national winds than other elected officials, which could affect Bennet’s chances.
“Michael Bennet is probably more exposed here than Jared Polis,” Sondermann said.
Noting that Bennet “probably commands more respect in Washington than he necessarily does in Colorado,” Sondermann added that Bennet tended to underperform when he was on the ballot in Colorado, including a victory over the skin against the former lieutenant-governor. Jane Norton in 2010 and a lower than expected margin compared to former El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn in 2016.
Both victories, Sondermann observed, were largely the result of Republican missteps.
These included attacking Norton for his loyalty to Owens and handing the nomination over to Glenn, who Sondermann described as “a capable guy (who) wasn’t ready for the big stage in any way.” .
Dino said he expected Bennet would have a harder time winning another term than Polis, but expects both to win.
Wadhams said he was struck by a statistic many don’t realize – that if Bennet is re-elected and fulfills his next term, he will be the longest-serving senator in Colorado history since being appointed to the seated in 2009, almost two years before facing voters for the first time.
“For a guy who just tripped into the office then our candidates, unfortunately -” Wadhams said, shaking his head.
“He’s the luckiest guy in the world. The question is, do we let him get lucky again?