Monday, June 9, 2008

Ritter's smart politicking may save legislative seats

There's an interesting article in this morning's Denver Post about how the state GOP plans to run their races for the legislature this year. In short they realize that the governor is still quite popular so Republicans will be forced to attack his policies and try to tie Democrats to those policies.

The most perceptive point in the entire piece comes from pollster Floyd Cirulli,

"There's no solar panel he (Ritter) hasn't dedicated," Ciruli said. "He's done a masterful job of signing some very inconsequential legislation throughout the state. So, he's still at a high level of popularity."

This is exactly right. From a policy perspective some of us on the left have been frustrated by Ritter's inaction on many of the big issues facing the state. The governor though has capitalized on what action has been taken - he's traveled to communities large and small to sign legislation, he has (through his numerous Blue Ribbon Commissions) engaged citizens from communities all over the state in the process. From a public relations perspective he's certainly played his hand well and that smart politicking may very well may pay off this fall for the Party. Attempts to tie legislative Democrats to the policies of a popular governor will, I think, prove futile. Especially in a year where the Republican's have no real positive agenda of their own and are facing national headwinds of historic proportions.

John Straayer, a political scientist at Colorado State University, doubted whether Republicans will be able to pick up many seats, if any.

"The wind's at the back of the Democrats this year, not the Republicans," Straayer said, adding that Republicans don't seem to have issues with broad voter appeal. "Until they have some kind of a clearly defined agenda to go after the problems in higher education, health care and transportation, their prospects of a major gain are slim."

Democrats are not likely to pick up many seats themselves, they have already picked off the low hanging fruit. Any inroads they hope to make will have to be in districts that are considered quite safe. If I were a betting man I'd be looking for Dems to make a serious run at HD37, currently held by Republican Spencer Swalm. Swalm barely won the seat in 2006 and

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