Conventional political wisdom has always dictated that “as Jefferson County goes, so goes Colorado.” But Senator-elect Cory Gardner has turned that paradigm on its head. statemap copy

Sen. Mark Udall actually beat Gardner in all of Colorado’s major swing counties – Jeffco, Arapahoe and Broomfield. Yet, Gardner still managed to pull off a stunning victory. This new model is giving political strategists an entirely new lens through which to look at statewide races in Colorado.

To be fair, a candidate still has to be competitive in Colorado’s suburban swing counties. Udall may have won Jeffco, but he only did so by a few hundred votes. The Denver suburbs cannot be ceded, however, campaigns no longer have to live and die by the will of those voters alone.

As The Denver Post highlighted this weekend, team-Gardner ran up the up the score in conservative strongholds like Douglas and El Paso County. Gardner also barely lost the traditionally Democratic county of Pueblo by less than 300 votes. Chris Hansen, Gardner’s campaign manager, explained to the Post:

“…Pueblo had decided that the Denver-Boulder kind of ‘latte liberals’ had left them. They’re a different kind of Democrats in Pueblo. They’re gun-loving, church-going, union Democrats.”

The Gardner-model to running statewide means the political-chess board has expanded. Expect to see a major strategic shift for future campaigns in Colorado, especially come 2016.