Colorado Archive

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USA 2010: Colorado Governor

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.

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USA 2010: Colorado Senate

Colorado has recently acted as a swing state at all levels, moving back and forth between the Democrats and Republicans. Most recently, the Democrats won both Senate seats off the Republicans at the 2004 and 2008 elections

This year’s seat was won by Ken Salazar (D) in 2004. Salazar was state Attorney-General. The seat had previously been won by Republicans only once since it was won by Gary Hart in 1974, which was in 1998. The seat was held from 1993 to 2005 by Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who was elected in 1992 as a Democrat, but switched parties in 1995, and was re-elected as a Republican in 1998 before retiring in 2004.

The other Colorado Senate seat is held by Mark Udall (D), who won the seat in 2008. The seat had previously been won for five terms in a row by Republicans, with the last Republican senator, Wayne Allard, retiring in 2008.

Salazar resigned as Senator in January 2009 upon his appointment as President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior. Colorado’s Democratic Governor nominated Michael Bennet, superintendent of Denver Public Schools, to take over the seat.

Bennet won the Democratic primary over Andrew Romanoff, former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, with 54.2% in a two-candidate race.

The Republican primary in August was won by Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, defeating former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton 51.6% to 48.4%. Buck had been a relatively unknown underdog in his first run for statewide office. He ran to the right of Norton with the support of much of the Tea Party movement, gaining momentum and defeating his prominent opponent. Buck’s far-right positions have provoked attacks from the Bennet campaign.

Buck has gained on Bennet in recent polls, and is now slightly ahead in most recent polls, although Bennet has disputed this lead, releasing internal polls showing him with a slight lead.