08 November 2013

Winners and Losers in Colorado's 2013 Election and a Look Ahead

Now that the dust has settled a little bit, I wanted to just quickly review what happened in the 2013 election in Colorado.  I'm talking about the November elections, not the recalls (that's a whole 'nother beast).  I am hip-deep in finishing up my book (which, if you haven't pre-ordered yet, you can here) and attending a School Choice Conference put on by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but I wanted to give a very brief summary from my perspective of what happened and what that may mean for 2014.


  • Kids
  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Taxpayers
  • School choice advocates


  • Unions
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Political operatives


Douglas County, Jefferson County, Denver Public Schools, and several school districts in Adams, Larimer, and Weld counties in particular had great success with reform candidates and slates, which bodes well for improving education across the state.  Notice where some of these changes occurred--Denver, Jefferson, and Adams county, where you have majority Democrats or have been trending Democrat in the past several elections county-wide.  School choice and reform is not a partisan issue.

Coloradoans voted down a nearly $1 billion/year tax increase by a nearly 2-1 margin.

In a bizarre twist of strangeness that only Colorado could concoct, by nearly the same margin as one tax increase was voted down, a tax was passed on marijuana.  In Colorado, apparently it is "tax for thee but not for me."

Sadly, in some cases, reform candidates succeeded in spite of, rather than because of, some of the same old (bad) political operatives.  As long as we continue to have these folks around, we will have to fight that much harder to actually succeed in elections.

Looking ahead:

It is way too early to make predictions for 2014.  To say Hickenlooper is on the defensive now after two losses (the recall elections in September and now Amendment 66--a third might be the flub on the execution of Nathan Dunlap) would be accurate, but whether that will hold true a whole YEAR from now is yet to be seen.  Unfortunately, voters have really short memories, and if Hickenlooper can pull it together this year coupled with a long, likely nasty Republican Primary for Governor, and that could potentially spell success for him in his election.  Remember, since 2004, no Republican has won statewide office after a nasty primary.  It may be more a factor of "us" and less a referendum on Hickenlooper, unfortunately.

What conservatives and liberty lovers must do is capitalize on our success: clearly pro-gun, anti-tax, and pro-education reform messages are winning messages!

The legislative session should be very interesting.  Election years often bring a tamer legislative agenda, and after this year's cocky liberal ram-rodding, it will be very fascinating to watch what happens next.

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