Colorado’s current Govenor is Bill Ritter (D), who is not standing for re-election in 2010, after being elected at the 2006 election.
Colorado’s gubernatorial elections were dominated by Democrats throughout the 20th century, holding office for 60 years in the 20th Century. The Democrats held office continuously from 1975 to 1999. At the 1998 election, sitting Democratic Governor Roy Romer stood down after three terms, and a close race was won by Republican Bill Owens. Owens was re-elected with a landslide in 2002.
In 2006, Owens was term-limited, and the election was won comfortably by Democratic candidate Bill Ritter, a former District Attorney in Denver. Ritter is stepping down at this year’s term, although he would be permitted to run for a second term.
The Democratic primary was won by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper with no serious opposition.
The Republican primary was expected to be won by former Congressman Scott McInnis. He was leading for most of the campaign, but in July his campaign went off the rails when it was discovered that he had committed plagiarism in writing papers for a fellowship he had held around 2005. He narrowly lost the primary to businessman Dan Maes.
Maes’ chances were badly damaged when former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo announced he would be running for Governor as the candidate of the minor American Constitution Party. Tancredo demanded that both Maes and McInnis drop out, and after the Republican primary many GOP officials attempted to convince Maes to clear the way for Tancredo to give them a chance of defeating the Democrat. Maes has so far refused to drop out.
Tancredo was a strongly anti-immigration Congressman, and announced his presidential candidacy in 2007. His campaign was overshadowed by other contenders, and he dropped out before the first primary.
Polling in June showed Maes neck-and-neck with Hickenlooper in a two-horse race. He started to slip behind in July, but the entry of Tancredo in late July saw his support plummet. While Maes and Tancredo between them have been polling about the same as Hickenlooper, the divide between the two right-wing candidates puts them out of contention of winning. Tancredo has been polling very strongly for a minor party candidate, often polling over 20%, and in the most recent poll receiving 4% more than Maes.
Despite the fertile opportunity for the Republicans to pick up this race, it appears that Hickenlooper is set to retain the Governor’s office for the Democrats. It seems unlikely that either Maes or Tancredo will drop out, and it is almost impossible for either to win in a three-horse race.