The last state legislative session produced unintended consequences for Democrats, to put it mildly. And, this session, despite Gov. Hickenlooper’s hollow promises of bipartisanship, may promise more of the same. Lynn Bartels at The Denver Post recently wrote a piece on Democratic state Senator Lois Tochtrop, calling her a “maverick” politician because she often sides with Republicans on personal freedom issues, such as Second Amendment and smoking bans. Even before last session’s scorched earth, Tochtrop “started the 2013 session peeved at her own party.” We can’t imagine her sentiments at the bitter end.
Tochtrop is being watched carefully by both sides of the aisle. For Republicans, she could be the “backstop”, as Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman calls her, to some of the extreme legislation pushed by the Democratic Party. As Bartels wrote:
“The Adams County lawmaker’s independent streak could be one of the more memorable story lines of the 2014 session. It will be her last year because of term limits, she has nothing to lose and nothing to prove, and Senate Democrats hold only a one-seat majority.”
As it is, Tochtrop is one of the last of the left’s moderates in a caucus veering increasingly leftward as the election of Senate President Morgan Carroll, who has often been criticized for being too extreme, would indicate. Tochtrop is like Colorado’s Joe Lieberman.
She’s considered one of the Senate’s toughest legislators at the Capitol. Former Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry noted in the Post article that she “has bigger rocks than 99 percent of the men’s room occupants down there”.
All of these issues may merge together to make Tochtrop more of the 18th Republican than the 18th Democrat, which could translate to headaches for Carroll & Co. But, that’s what happens when a party goes rogue.