Fellow elephants, let me assure you: Things are not as bad as they seem. After a couple of very predictable losses at the State Supreme Court, suddenly people think that Colorado Republicans are headed back to the gallows of perpetual minority. It’s the Blueprint all over again. It brings back nightmares of the liberal takeover in 2004, but I’m here to tell you — don’t worry! This time it’s just a bad dream. When you wake up in the morning, it’s December 15, 2011, and here’s how things are different from December 15, 2003:
1. President Bush vs. President Obama. There is a President in the White House that Colorado’s unaffiliated voters can’t stand– but this time he’s a liberal Democrat. More that 50 percent of Colorado voters disapprove of President Obama. A little known fact: When President Obama won Colorado handily in 2008, Colorado Republicans picked up two state house seats. How good can we do when Obama is on the ballot, and upside down in the polls?
2. The Democratic Leadership Void. The Dems were leaderless in 2004, so Andrew Romanoff and Alice Madden filled the void. Today’s Democratic leaders — Udall and Hickenlooper — are a good at getting themselves elected, but people down ballot aren’t expecting any help from them. Can you imagine Hickenlooper barnstorming for Mark Ferrandino as Speaker? Mark Udall plugging for Morgan Carroll to Preside over the State Senate. ANY of them pushing for Barack Obama for President? (Shut up Michael Bennet- no one likes you.) As the Peak has covered well, Hickenlooper isn’t looking to steer the Democratic ship through these choppy waters. He’s looking for a lifeboat.
3. They don’t make Democrats like they used to. Let’s dwell on that leadership void further: Brandon Shaffer is not Joan Fitzgerald. The Senate Dems are more of a mess than people realize — much like the Republican Senate of 2002 and 2004. Mark Ferrandino is not Andrew Romanoff. He may be closer to Alice Madden — that is, maybe he will play dirty. But the Good Cop/ Bad Cop routine of Romanoff and Madden was important to donors, to unaffiliateds and the business community that Republicans had relied upon — I can’t think of a single Democrat that can come close to Romanoff in the state House right now. They are all…small and petty.
4. They make Republicans better than they used to. Frank McNulty vs. Lola Spradley. Cory Gardner vs. Marylin Musgrave. Enough said. And in those Republican Congressional seats that people consider competitive? We couldn’t ask for better match ups: In CD 3, Scott Tipton is facing a guy who is best known for facing TWO convictions for peeing in public. In the 6th, Mike Coffman set the NATIONAL land speed record for NRCC fundraising before he even had a competitive district, and now his milktoast opponent is facing a primary. And the 7th CD even might get interesting.
5. Democrats can’t change the subject this time. There are no statewide offices on the ballot other than President in 2012. For the past three cycles, Dems have enjoyed capitalizing on mistakes made by Bob Beauprez, Bob Schaffer, and Ken Buck in way that hurt our team down ticket. There’s literally no way for Dems to do that this time, since there isn’t a race other than President than can substantially effect the party’s brand.
6. Competitive districts no longer mean Democratic Districts. For the first time since 2000, Republicans are outpacing Democrats in new voter registration. In fact, there’s some evidence that Democrats are hemorrhaging members in Colorado. If the trend keeps up, I’ll take my chances in a district that was drawn because it leaned Democrat by 3 points in 2010…
7. Republicans actually have their S**t together. The dust hasn’t even settled, and we already have good candidates running in the right districts (a HUGE difference from 2004, in its own right). The state party is in the best financial position since McCain/Feingold passed. Donors are MOTIVATED, not disenchanted.
My friends, what I’m saying is that it’s OK to be angry, but it’s not OK to think we are in trouble. We have to be diligent. We have to be smart. No backbiting or second guessing — it’s time to stand up and fight the people who did this — the people who can’t look a voter in the eye and tell them that Democrats in Colorado practice politics the way the voters would want them to. This is our year, and we have the high ground, the issues and the momentum on our side.
This is a fact: Our team is in a significantly better position than it was the last time that this happened. The question is: What are you going to do to make it even better?