In the first sign that Colorado Democrats realize 2012 will not be a banner year for their party, and there will be no Obama coattails to ride, a state Representative from Longmont is announcing rather than seek re-election in a competitive district she will seek the safe confines of a Boulder County Commissioner's race. Rep. Deb Gardner (D-Longmont) announced last night she'd rather test her luck among the liberal voters in Boulder County's 2nd Commissioner district, than risk having her record tested in the more moderate Longmont area House district.

In fleeing her House district, Gardner can now feel safe to let her liberal flag fly.

Per the Longmont Times-Call:

"In Boulder County, we pride ourselves on our innovative ideas around energy, water and land use," Gardner said. "At the same time, we are facing the real possibility of flat to declining county revenue just as needs are expected to increase.  

"The importance of maintaining a robust safety net for our citizens — children, family and adults alike — is paramount," Gardner said.

In Boulder that reads: I love expensive & subsidized solar power and support teachers unions. Whereas in a competitive House district that is more likely to come across as I support unsustainable government spending and illogical energy policies.  

Prior to dropping her re-election bid, Gardner sat on the GOP targeted seat list, which all but guaranteed a gargantuan amount of direct mail and robo-dials directed at her tax and spend record in the Legislature. Despite cruising to a nearly 20-point win in 2010, most observers expected she would face a tougher challenge in 2012. Democrats had hoped that Obama would help boost vulnerable Democrats, but are slowly coming around to the realization that Obama will do more harm than good for most down-ballot races. 

As we reported yesterday, that recognition is settling in for DC Democrats, but it appears it's beginning to dawn on Democrats in Colorado as well. 

If you hadn't noticed driving around the state, there is a distinct lack of public support for President Obama. Gone are the bumper sticker laden cars, armies of campaign t-shirted volunteers, and group chants of "Fired Up! Ready to Go!" that were so ever-present in 2008. In a striking contrast, Obama's jobs speech on Tuesday in Denver was planned in secrecy, with the location leaking out through an Ed News Colorado report just today. 

On the other side of the coin is the growing energy and confidence of Colorado conservatives. With the GOP set to move its precinct caucuses to February, placing Colorado in the thick of the primary season, there could be an enormous growth in Republican organizing far sooner than Team Obama was planning for in the Centennial State. 

Look for more signs of Democrats’ realization that 2012 will be a bad year to be on the ballot with Barack Obama in the coming months. We won't be surprised to see more candidates decline re-election, or other candidates beg off from running for tough seats. Based on the seemingly endless, and growing, list of Democrats tied to corruption in Adams County, we think that might be a good place to watch.