ELN: Results confirm Colorado’s feeling pretty blue

In the span of three elections, Democrats have taken over two U.S. Senate seats, the governor’s mansion, three previously Republican congressional districts and the state Legislature.

To top matters off, Colorado helped deliver Barack Obama a majority of electoral votes.

That math, according to John Redifer, a political science professor at Mesa State College, undoubtedly makes Colorado a blue state.

“I don’t think how you can say anything else,” Redifer said. “At this moment in time, we’re definitely a blue state.”

Congressman John Salazar, D-Colo., agreed.

“We’ve reversed the trend,” Salazar said, noting that less than a decade ago Republicans controlled a majority of the state’s congressional seats, the two Senate seats and the governor’s mansion.

However, Colorado’s transformation into a blue state, in the words of NBC political director Chuck Todd, remains in doubt, according to a series of political observers on both sides of the aisle.

Former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley said Colorado’s Democratic bend is more indicative of problems within the Republican Party than a liberal renaissance in the heart of the Rocky Mountain West.

“This is something that’s been developing for some time with the traditional conservative Republicans ceding control to the social conservative wing of the party,” he said.

Feeley cited outgoing Eastern Plains Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., and failed Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer as two examples of social conservatives that alienated moderate Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

“I don’t think we’re a blue state,” Feeley said. “I think we’re a red state where the red is at war with itself.”

That schism came into focus last month when former congressman and moderate Republican Scott McInnis criticized the right wing of his party, which prompted former Gov. Bill Owens and former state Senate President John Andrews to pile on, calling his critique inappropriate and ill-timed.

Former Republican congressman and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said there is “the temptation,” following the recent gains of the Democratic Party, to call Colorado blue.

Beauprez attributed Colorado’s recent shift to the divided Republican bloc instead of a true realignment.

“It’s going to be up to the Republicans to find our voice again and our candidates again and to unite again, because we haven’t been very good at any of those of late,” Beauprez said.

He said the 2010 elections, when Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., are up for re-election, will show whether the GOP can reverse the state’s Democratic tilt.

If not, Colorado’s status as a blue state might not be up for debate.


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