Politics of Colorado
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Until the election of Barack Obama, the people of Colorado had voted Republican in every U.S. Presidential Election since 1964, with the exception of 1992 when a plurality voted for Bill Clinton, (possibly due to the effect of Ross Perot's candidacy.) Conversely, Colorado has held a Democratic governor for 22 of the past 30 years.
Colorado has a history of voter initiatives which severely restrict the power of state government. Some of these initiatives include Term Limits on Legislators (1990), TABOR (Tax Payer's Bill of Rights) (1992), and Amendment 23, passed in 2000, which set a fixed percentage of the budget for K-12 education. Voters passed Referendum C in 2005, amending some restrictions of TABOR and Amendment 23.
Colorado supported George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, by a margin of less than 10%. Republicans have generally held control of state-wide offices and the state legislature since the 1960s. In 2004, while Bush won the state's electors, Democrat, Ken Salazar won a U.S. Senate seat and his brother John Salazar won a seat in the U.S. House, while the Democrats captured both chambers of the state legislature. Most recently, in 2006, Democrat Bill Ritter won the governorship by a 16-point margin while the Democrats expanded their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature and Democrat Ed Perlmutter captured another U.S. House seat. In 2010, however, Republicans made big gains in the state. They won the statewide races of Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer. Republicans also defeated two incumbent Democratic House members to hold a 4-3 majority in the state's House delegation. Furthermore, Republicans took control of the Colorado House of Representatives. This occurred even as Democrat John Hickenlooper won the governorship, albeit over weak and divided opposition, and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was re-elected. Also as a result of the 2010 gubernatorial election the Constitution Party gained major party status as it passed the 10% popular vote threshold, putting it in an equal legal position with the Democratic and Republican parties in terms of rights under state election law. However, the Democrats regained the Colorado House by a large margin during the 2012 election.
Colorado was a battleground state in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election between Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. Obama won Colorado, by a margin of 8%, with 53% of the vote to McCain's 45%.
State Senate and State House of Representatives
As of the 2012 election, the State Senate is controlled by Democrats with 23 seats, and 12 seats to the Republicans. The Colorado House of Representatives, is also controlled by Democrats with 39 seats, and 26 seats to the Republicans.
Democrats Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are Colorado's senior and junior United States senators, respectively. Udall was elected in 2008, and Bennet was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter in January 2009 to succeed Ken Salazar, who resigned following his confirmation by the Senate as United States Secretary of the Interior in the Barack Obama administration. As of January 2009[update], Colorado's Senate delegation had the least average seniority of any state's, with Udall 87th in terms of seniority and Bennet 98th. Michael Bennet won his first full term to the United States Senate against Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck in 2010 Republican wave by a margin of ~30,000 votes.
Colorado has 7 seats in the United States House of Representatives, four held by Republicans and three by Democrats.
Colorado's 1st congressional district is represented by Democrat Diana DeGette, and as of 2013 will cover the City and County of Denver. It is a heavily liberal district, with over 65% of the vote going regularly to the Democratic candidate. DeGette faces no significant opposition in the 2012 U.S. House of Representatives election.
Colorado's 2nd congressional district is represented by Democrat Jared Polis, and as of 2013 will cover most of northern Colorado along the Front Range, including the counties of Larimer, Boulder, and the I-70 corridor west to White River National Forest. It is a slightly more Democratic district, anchored in the college towns of Boulder and Fort Collins. Polis is being challenged for his seat by Republican Kevin Lundberg of the Colorado State Senate in the 2012 election.
Colorado's 3rd congressional district is represented by Republican Scott Tipton, and as of 2013 will cover western and southern Colorado, including the cities of Grand Junction and Pueblo. This is one of the state's three competitive districts, with either candidate holding a strong chance at victory. Tipton is being challenged for his seat by Democrat Sal Pace of the Colorado House of Representatives and Independent Tisha Casida, businesswoman.
Colorado's 4th congressional district is represented by Republican Cory Gardner, and as of 2013 will cover eastern Colorado, including the towns of Greeley and Castle Rock. Made significantly less competitive in the redistricting session, the 4th is now most likely to remain a Republican stronghold, as conservative Weld and Douglas counties are combined with the state's farming communities. Gardner is being challeneged for his seat by Democrat Brandon Shaffer, President of the Colorado State Senate.
Colorado's 5th congressional district is represented by Republican Doug Lamborn, and as of 2013 will cover the southern end of the Front Range, including Colorado Springs, Canyon City, and Salida. This is the most conservative county in the state, anchored in Colorado Springs and home of Christian groups like Focus on the Family and the International Bible Society, as well as military installations at Fort Carson, Cheyenne Mountain and the United States Air Force Academy. Despite containing more liberal areas in Manitou Springs, downtown Colorado Springs, and Salida, the district is likely to remain in Republican hands well into the 2020 census. Lamborn's only significant challenge came from businessman Robert Blaha during the Republican primary, whom was beaten handily.
Colorado's 6th congressional district is represented by Republican Mike Coffman, and as of 2013 will cover the city of Aurora, Highlands Ranch, and most of the southern Denver-Metro region. It also includes northern Adams County, including the city of Brighton. This district was made significantly more competitive with the inclusion of Aurora, however it retained its most conservative area in northwestern Douglas County. This is one of the state's most competitive districts. Coffman is being challenged for his seat by Democrat Joe Miklosi of the Colorado House of Representatives.
Colorado's 7th congressional district is represented by Democrat Ed Perlmutter, and as of 2013 will cover most of the population of Adams and Jefferson counties north and west of Denver. Although this district is competitive, with roughly equal numbers of registered Republicans and Democrats, it remained in Democratic hands during the 2010 wave election. It is unlikely that it will be taken from Representative Perlmutter anytime soon. Perlmutter is being challenged for his seat by Republican Joe Coors Jr., of the Coors Brewing family.
Colorado's fast growth makes it likely that it will gain an 8th or perhaps even 9th congressional district following the 2020 congressional reapportionment.
Sovereignty of the people
Section 1. Vestment of political power. All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government, of right, originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
Section 2. People may alter or abolish form of government − proviso. The people of this state have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves, as a free, sovereign and independent state; and to alter and abolish their constitution and form of government whenever they may deem it necessary to their safety and happiness, provided, such change be not repugnant to the constitution of the United States.
Initiative, Referendum, and recall
...the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly and also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act or item, section, or part of any act of the general assembly.
Initiatives and referred laws are considered by the electorate at every general election in Colorado. Many are housekeeping measures or lack substantial public support, but matters of great public concern are also considered such as TABOR, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, enacted in 1992, which amended Article X of the Colorado Constitution to the effect that any tax increase resulting in the increase of governmental revenues at a rate faster than the combined rate of population increase and inflation as measured by either the cost of living index at the state level, or growth in property values at the local level, would be subjected to a popular vote in a referendum.
Issues to be considered in 2010 include proposition 101 which would repeal unpopular increases in car registration fees as well as phone and, possibly, income taxes. Amendment 60 would cut property taxes and Amendment 61 would prohibit state and limit local borrowing. Many Colorado officeholders oppose these measures which they fear have substantial public support.
The state is very pluralistic politically: Democrats are strongest in the cities of Denver, and Pueblo; the college town of Boulder; the San Luis Valley and other rural counties in southern Colorado with a substantial Hispanic population; as well as the ski-resorts along I-70, like Aspen and Telluride.
Republicans are strongest in El Paso County (Colorado Springs), the most populous county in the state and home to a large military and evangelical Christian population; Douglas County, an affluent suburban county that is among the wealthiest counties in the nation, and populous Weld County north of Denver. All three are long-time GOP strongholds that are also experiencing some of the state's fastest growth. Republicans also perform strongly in the rural eastern and northwestern parts of the state, and in cities like Greeley, Grand Junction, and Highlands Ranch.
While historically a Republicans stronghold, having voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election from 1968 to 2004, except for 1992, it voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 by modest margins. It remains to be seen whether Colorado is changing at all politically, or if it is to remain a quintessential battleground state.
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- "2005 Referendum Special Election Results". U.S. Election Atlas. 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- The New York Times http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/votes.html
|url=missing title (help).
- Article II of the Constitution of Colorado on Justia.Com, accessed September 21, 2010
- Section 1, Article II, Constitution of Colorado
- Section 2, Article II, Constitution of Colorado
- Section 5, Article II, Constitution of Colorado
- Article VII, Constitution of Colorado
- Section 1, Article V, Constitution of Colorado
- Section 1, Article V, Constitution of Colorado
- Article V, Constitution of Colorado Justia.Com, accessed September 21, 2010
- Article XXI, Constitution of Colorado
- "Tax Cuts on Colorado Ballot Stir Alarm" article by Dan Frosch in The New York Times September 20, 2010, accessed September 21, 2010
- "Ballot measures called budget busters: School districts, library to share losses, council told." article by Peter Roper in The Pueblo Chieftain June 22, 2010, accessed September 21, 2010
- Elections in Colorado on U.S. Election Atlas website
- Politics of Colorado at the Open Directory Project