Friday, October 4, 2013

KOA, 9 KUSA: Colorado Politics

In interviews with KOA’s Steffan Tubbs and 9 KUSA’s Mark Koebrich, Colorado’s hyperactive political environment was deconstructed in light of the federal shutdown and the 2014 election.
  1. The early blame for the shutdown goes to the Republicans. They were headed to what appeared to be good 2014 results. The President’s approval rating was in the mid-40 percent range and their holding the House was likely, along with picking up a couple U.S. Senate seats. Now both are at risk. Because American public opinion is not the same as opinion in individual congressional districts, there is little incentive, as yet, to compromise.
  2. In Colorado, Mike Coffman’s swing district is most in jeopardy from bad news from Washington. Democrats are already using the shutdown to good effect in governor races this fall.
  3. Mike Kopp has entered the crowded governor’s field. Tom Tancredo has a strong base, but a low ceiling of support and much baggage. Scott Gessler has his own baggage, but as a statewide officeholder with a less extreme profile probably has a bit of an edge. Greg Brophy is liked, but has little money and a small base. Kopp could be the strongest candidate against Governor Hickenlooper, but the field is crowded and breaking out won’t be easy. 
  4. Hickenlooper saw a bit of recovery with his strong performance during the floods. Since Katrina, politicians have recognized even more than before that extreme weather events can make or break a career. Witness Governor Christie’s ascendance after Hurricane Sandy. Colorado politicians have always appreciated the political power of weather since the Big Thompson flood helped Governor Dick Lamm’s survival in 1976 and the great snow storm of 1982 accelerated the end of the long career of Mayor Bill McNichols. Hickenlooper has had a major run of tragedy with fires, shootings and now floods.
  5. The Democratic Senate leadership contest may have a bigger impact on Hickenlooper’s election fortunes than anything he does. A race is possible between Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, representing the aggressive left wing of the party that dominated the 2013 session, and Mary Hodge, who maintains strong business and rural Colorado ties, to become the Senate president. Carroll has the advantage, but the likelihood of more liberal legislation will mean Hickenlooper has to get vocal with veto threats or risk losing the center of the electorate next year.

No comments: