Republicans downcast but forward-looking in Denver

Bob Schaffer speaks during a debate with Mark Udall in Denver. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

Bob Schaffer speaks during a debate with Mark Udall in Denver. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

As Democrats counted win after win this evening, Republicans at the Colorado GOP event in Littleton appeared exhausted as the results rolled in. Thousands of people roamed slowly around the Marriott Hotel, and several lounged on chairs and couches in the hallway. A few engaged in philosophical discussion about the election results, while others asked their friends where to find more food or what they had in mind for tomorrow.

Republican Party heavyweights, on the other hand, seemed focused on a more distant future. Senate Candidate Bob Shaffer — who was pummeled by Mark Udall tonight — gave his concession speech around 9 p.m., reminding the standing crowd to work for 2010.

“For all of those who are activists in the room and who believe brighter days are ahead of us, here is a statistic to keep in mind,” he said. At this point, a young man at a table not far from the stage muttered “We suck?” under his breath. But Shaffer, who didn’t hear, continued. “We have 730 days until the next election. We have a governor’s race to win in 730 days. We have to win the majority back in the Colorado House and the Colorado Senate. We have congressional seats to win in 730 days. Let’s keep our chin up and our eyes on the horizon. We know how to win elections in Colorado.”

Shaffer congratulated Udall, conceding that Colorado “took a giant leap to the left this year and the years prior.” One person in the audience booed. He concluded by saying, “Let’s not think about the trouncing we took across the country. Let’s think about the victories that are 730 days ahead, and let’s get to work.”

But not everyone was thinking about tomorrow. Down the hall from the main ballroom, a few dozen people gathered to watch a small TV that was playing Barack Obama’s victory speech.

One woman walked quickly by and looked up at the monitor. “Ugh. Turn it off,” she said.

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Naomi Zeveloff

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