Surprises in the Colorado election

Surprises in the Colorado election

The 2014 mid-term election in Colorado includes a number of firsts—including some very surprising endorsements, a lot of dark money, and a new and fraud-prone election system.



The Denver Post, always a reliable voice for the Democrat Party, has surprised just about everyone by endorsing Republican Cory Gardner over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall in the Colorado senate race. They’ve also indorsed incumbent Republican Mike Coffman over Democrat Andrew Romanov in the 6th Congressional District.

In the senate endorsement, The Post said “[Congress] needs fresh leadership, energy and ideas, and Cory Gardner can help provide them in the U.S. Senate.” Regarding Udall’s one-issue abortion campaign, the Post wrote, “Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”

That other Post—the Washington one—concluded that Udall (or “Sen. Uterus” as he is becoming known) “…arguably had the worst campaign game plan” among Democrats nationwide.

Naturally, such left-wing voices as Media Matters, NARAL and MoveOn criticized the Post’s endorsement.

The Coffman indorsement is significant because the Democrats gerrymandered Coffman’s district to make it more favorable to them—and they’ve put a lot of resources into defeating him. The Denver Post wrote that his “independence of spirit makes the Aurora Republican a valuable member of Congress, and one of the reasons we think he should be re-elected in Colorado's 6th Congressional District." They especially cited the Marine veteran’s willingness to take on his own party over defense spending.

Romanov, by contrast, just moved into the district last year so that he could run.

Dark money

Colorado, always a battleground state, was taken over by the Democrats in 2006 and 2008 using what has become known as the “Colorado Model” or “The Blueprint”: a tightly-controlled state party funded by a few billionaires both in-state and out of state. Republicans have proven unable to effectively compete; they are typically outspent by large margins, often as much as 10:1.

The money spent by issues committees and other (largely 527) organizations dwarfs that spent by the parties themselves, as this graphic from the Secretary of State’s office shows:

rpt ContribSummChart 640

The more than $120 million spent so far this election is twice that spent in the 2010 mid-terms and dwarfs that spent in the last two presidential elections as well:

rpt ContribSummYears BarChart

What is that money going for? The nastiest election ads in the country. Democrats are trying to hide from the fact that they uniformly voted for Obamacare (or the Colorado state exchange), gun control, civil unions, sex ed. down to pre-school, and a new, highly flawed election law.

Election system

John Fund, noted authority on election integrity, wrote in National Review Online that Colorado’s new election law is rife with potential for abuse. House Bill 1303, passed exclusively by Democrats, combines the features most rife with potential for vote fraud: mail-only ballots, same day registration, reduced residency requirements, while no photo voter ID required. Ballot “harvesters” are allowed to turn in 10 ballots—but a lack of controls really means 10 ballots at a time.

And it’s “election season” in Colorado instead of the traditional Election Day. Colorado gives voters—and harvesters—21 days to turn in their ballots, although most either vote by the first weekend or at the very end.

Outside groups are already in Colorado conducting registrations and collecting ballots.

Colorado elections expert Marilyn Marks recommends holding your ballot to the last minute and then turning it in yourself—never give it to anyone else. “Treasure what your ballot represents,” she says. “It’s your voice in how we govern ourselves.”

As of Friday, almost 28,000 Coloradans have already returned their ballots. Political insiders said even before this new law that Republicans needed to win by 3-5 points to overcome fraud. In 2014, Colorado Republicans will need the landslide that eluded them in 2010.