Since 2004, Democrats have enjoyed success after success after success in Colorado.
Barack Obama won the state twice. Democrats have carried every U.S. Senate and gubernatorial contest – in good political times for the party (2006 and 2008), and in bad times (2004 and 2010). And they control the state legislature.
That’s why the results from Tuesday night’s recalls in Colorado are potentially significant.
State Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron – both Democrats – were ousted from office after their support for gun-control legislation in this traditionally gun friendly state.
Morse represented Colorado Springs, a swing area in the state, while Giron represented Democratic-leaning (and Latino-heavy) Pueblo.
Yes, the normal caveats apply to these recall results: They were special elections, turnout was unusual (Colorado voters couldn’t participate by mail as they often do), and beware of making bold predictions after these kind of races. After all, just months after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) survived his own recall, President Obama easily won the state in the presidential contest.
But the recall results are a warning sign for next year’s key races in Colorado, where Democratic Gov.John Hickenlooper and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall are both up for re-election.
In particular, Hickenlooper could be vulnerable, especially after signing his state’s gun-control legislation into law.
“I don’t believe that two state Senate races are predictive of an election that happens in 13 months from now,” says Jennifer Duffy, who monitors Senate and gubernatorial races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “That said, it does show that guns are still a very potent issue in Colorado, and Hickenlooper is more exposed than I originally thought.”
Of course, Republicans first have to find candidates capable of beating Hickenlooper and Udall. Former Congressman Tom Tancredo – once again – is running for governor. And Ken Buck, who lost the 2010 Senate race to Michael Bennet, is challenging Udall.
“Those were big recall victories last night which could spell trouble for Hickenlooper and Udall, but not if we nominate Tancredo and Buck,” former Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams tells First Read.
“Hickenlooper has some weakness, but there is a big question about whether Republicans can take advantage of it,” she says.