Friday, May 23, 2014

Colorado Democrats Slowly Drift into Conflict

The collapse of negotiations at the end of the Colorado legislative session over fracking and “local control” showed the inability of the Democratic Party’s powerful legislative wing to resolve the impending battle between its environmental constituents led by Congressman Jared Polis and its establishment and business wing led by Governor John Hickenlooper.

That failure may well bring the party to its knees in November, which already promises to be a difficult year due to the dramatic decline of the value of the national Democratic brand. Key election forecasting statistics, such as right direction, wrong track, presidential approval and trust in government, shows the incumbent party in trouble.
Having the party in a major fight could well end the eight-year run of success Colorado Democrats have achieved. As reported in the Colorado Observer, May 16, 2014, Valerie Richardson:

“It’s clear that it’s going to be a huge controversial ballot initiative, with Democrats on both sides. It’s very high profile, and again, it will be the first time we’ve had that kind of division in the party for a very long time,” said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.
The losers if Democrats can’t gain control of the issue:

State Senate – One vote away from Republican control.

State House – Three seats would have to switch, but overreach in 2013 produced little to brag about in 2014. 

Governor Hickenlooper – Has a 5 to 10 point lead, but can ill-afford to look ineffectual and defensive. He risks losing environmental votes.

Senator Udall – Unlikely to be able to hide behind “it’s a state issue.” Voters don’t tend to care about the state vs. federal distinction. Is gas and oil exploration an economic boom or a bust; is fracking environmentally manageable or a disaster?

Statewide Offices – Democrats running for Attorney General, Treasurer and Secretary of State tend to win or lose on the national and state trends. A divided, quarrelsome party is a loser for them.

A party that cannot govern its own House is less likely to be asked to govern the state.


Unknown said...

What when they are not all goose stepping they can't get something done? Why am I not surprised.

OzzieCat said...

Mr. Ciruli,
You certainly make some good points about the growing divisiveness. While these differences are troublesome, Democrats will not vote for Colorado 's extremist GOP candidates. Listening to your interview on Caplis today reminded me of that certainty. Republicans like Caplis and Gardner are one-trick ponies. The environment. Healthcare, gun control, middle class issues, and education are significant. But, Caplis and Gardner would have you believe that more legislation is required regarding women's healthcare issues. Democrats of every stripe will not vote for extremists even if it's letting go of ideals. The GOP's platform and message has absolutely nothing to offer.