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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Been wrong before, but still boldly predicting 2017 can’t be as weird as 2016

Littwin: Been wrong before, but still boldly predicting 2017 can’t be as weird as 2016

As we gratefully leave 2016 behind and warily entertain the idea of political life in 2017, we in Colorado must ask ourselves two basic questions:

What the hell just happened?

What the hell’s gonna happen now?

To answer either, we need to take a close look at the role Colorado played in the country’s weirdest political year since at least 1968. The year of The Donald proved, if nothing else, that everything most of us thought we knew was entirely wrong. And though it still feels too soon to try to digest much of that, the calendar has its own peculiar logic. We used to say that the future was now. Well, now we may get the future and the past together in one strange Trumpian blast.

As Trump shocked everyone by winning the presidency, Colorado was both entirely predictable and entirely unpredictable. The predictable: Trump lost in Colorado. He had to lose Colorado, even against the not-particularly-popular Hillary Clinton. Colorado is too educated, too urban, too demographically difficult for Trump to have won, particularly in a high-turnout presidential election year. On the other hand, Trump was supposed to lose in a lot of places that he did win, starting with the swing-state sweepstakes. While Trump won narrowly in many of the swing states, and thus the Electoral College, Colorado stayed consistently blue.

The unpredictable: How about the Colorado delegation’s mini-walkout at the Republican Convention? How about the Ted Cruz delegate sweep? How about the Trump charge that Colorado’s caucuses were rigged? How about the Gardner-Trump Twitter feud? How about the Darryl Glenn endorsement, un-endorsement and re-endorsement? How about Jon Keyser’s dog?

On the Dem side, how about the Hamilton Electors’ attempt at revolution (and the bizarre attempt by Secretary of State Wayne Williams to get one “faithless elector” indicted)? How about Morgan Carroll getting clobbered by Mike Coffman two years after Coffman had clobbered Andrew Romanoff? (I have no idea why or how Coffman became invincible, but the question now is whether he’s ready to give that invincibility a try in the 2018 governor’s race.) How about John Hickenlooper’s shocking near-veep experience, and what it teaches us about drinking fracking solution?

Should we look closer? Can you stand it?

It seems strange, but the biggest loser of 2016 could be Cory Gardner, who incautiously made an enemy of Trump, assuming, as we all did, that Trump would/could never win the presidency. There was Gardner-as-Rubio-surrogate calling Trump a buffoon. There was Gardner walking out on the GOP convention/Trump coronation. There was Gardner as Colorado defender wondering how Trump could handle Putin if he couldn’t even figure out the Colorado convention (a point very much still worth considering). And then there was Gardner, having refused to vote for Trump, on the losing side — a place he has assiduously avoided in his career —now having to figure out how to get on Trump’s good side before Trump exacts revenge. So far, Gardner has been busily attacking an outgoing Obama, pretending that Trump’s victory never happened. It worked for Gardner on that federal personhood bill, but I’m thinking that was so 2014.

Another loser was Hickenlooper, who has spent his entire political career pretending not to be a politician and particularly pretending not to be a Democratic politician. But in 2016, he went from effective nonpartisan to laughably ineffective attack dog on Trump. It was painful to see his tweets, which were so un-Hick-like, but, hey, they got him that surprise veep interview. He was never going to get the vice-presidential nod because environmentalists would have walked out on Clinton, but he was there, and pretty certain to have gotten a Cabinet post if he’d wanted one (and it seems he did). Instead, he helped deliver Colorado to Clinton, and for his reward he gets another two seasons of a split Colorado legislature, with Republicans having held on to their one-vote Senate majority.

OK, Darryl Glenn. Do not blame Darryl Glenn for being Darryl Glenn. He warned the GOP what they were in for, calling himself an unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative, pro- life, second-amendment-loving veteran who thought the biggest problem in Washington was that Republicans were too quick to cave. That’s a losing resume in purple-state Colorado, and everyone knew that except the Republican primary voters who nominated him. Of course, he was worse than that. The national Republicans deserted him. He never put together a workable campaign. The Russians were so unmoved they didn’t even bother to hack Michael Bennet. The miracle is that Glenn came within six points of Bennet, which showed just how vulnerable Bennet actually was. (Bennet was a putative winner, if you think getting six more years in dysfunctional Washington is winning.)

Of course, the Senate race was a GOP disaster even before Glenn won. The Republican establishment couldn’t find a viable candidate to run against Bennet, and when they finally settled on Jon Keyser, well, you know what happened. The quality of some recent GOP candidates — Dan Maes, Tom Tancredo, Ken Buck, Bob Beauprez, Bob Schaffer, to name but a few — has been a problem, but the party hope is that by the end of 2017, they’ll have viable candidates in line to run for the open governor’s seat in 2018. (Some guesses: Mike or Cynthia Coffman, George Brauchler, Wayne Williams, Walker Stapleton, John Suthers.) They’d better get someone viable because Colorado Republicans have won only one top-of-the-ballot race since 2004.

It’s too early to tell how 2016 will have turned out for Ken Salazar. He was, you might remember, Clinton’s choice to head up her transition team, and might have ended up as her attorney general or something if Clinton hadn’t forgotten to win. Blame Comey or the Russians or the media if you like, it doesn’t help Salazar now. Instead, he is the leading Dem candidate in the 2018 governor’s race, if he runs — which was, Democrats thought, a sure thing before the Clinton offer. And now? Salazar will have to decide whether the magic still holds for a moderate Democrat in a state party that has definitely moved left. I’m told that Cary Kennedy plans to run whether or not Salazar gets in. Mike Johnston wants to run. Joe Salazar will probably run as a Bernie-style progressive. If Ken Salazar doesn’t run, would Ed Perlmutter be tempted? It could get crowded on both sides.

Before you think too hard about it, remember that Prop 108 passed in November, and assuming it is implemented by 2018, it will mean that unaffiliated voters can vote in primaries without proclaiming a party choice. Some of the unaffiliated are true independents; some just aren’t joiners. The idea is that independents could bring either or both parties closer to the center, but no one really knows.

What we do know is that the unexpected is possible in 2017 — after all, it follows 2016, when we learned that even the impossible was possible.

 

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

4 Comments

  1. JohninDenver on said:

    I think it would be quite entertaining to hear the discussion in BOTH Rep and Dem parties about whether they want to opt out of the “independent” primary votes in favor of an assembly or convention.

  2. BJ Goral on said:

    How about passing legislation in CO and the rest of the U S to have the popular vote winner of our presidential elections be declared the winner. CO need to pass the legislation that has been sitting in the state house for Years! The last time it came up was when Howdy Doody Bill Owens was gov and he did not endorse it. BJ

  3. Jay D on said:

    @BJ Goral – I will ask you the same question I posed to Mr. Littwin – would you be as adamant to trash the electoral system had Hillary won the electoral college and Trump won the popular vote? Given other posts you have made on other articles, I would guess that you would go quiet about it as “your” candidate won. But, maybe you are not a hypocrite and would want Trump as president if that scenario had occurred?

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    Clown car saves seat for ML.

    “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated.” – Mike Littwin January, 2016

    “I still have no idea how or why Trump was elected.” – Mike Littwin December, 2016

    From bravado to bewilderment in less than one year and that’s a very long trip to make in just 12 months.

    But it does beg the question: Does Mr. Littwin have anything relevant left to say about American politics if he’s unable/unwilling to analyze how Mrs. Clinton lost the presidential election in what has been called the greatest upset in the history of American politics?

    But it gets even worse: While Mr. Littwin admits, “The real story is not of Trump, though, but of Trump voters and why they made him our president.” he remains uncharacteristically silent about those voters who put President-elect Trump in office.

    When British voters approved Brexit Mr. Littwin was quick to label those voters as “racist” and “xenophobic” yet he seems baffled as how to describe those Americans who voted for Donald Trump who Mr. Littwin called, “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a  crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party”

    And his childish refusal to refer to Donald Trump as president-elect strongly suggests he lacks the maturity to analyze politics or, well, anything.

    The sharp decline in Mr. Littwin’s political acumen is not surprising, he joined the Colorado Independent after, um, leaving the Denver Post because he wanted that second act that F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that you don’t get in America.

    It would appear Mr. Fitzgerald was correct.

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    “So this is how it ends — in a whimper wrapped in self-pity and recriminations. With President Obama on the defensive at his final press conference and Hillary Clinton’s last campaign event resembling a wake, the Democratic Party is limping off the stage and into the political winter.” – New York Post

    “The Democratic shoot-out in the lifeboats has begun.

    Now usually when one political party loses a presidential election, both branches of Congress and a majority of governorships, a little soul-searching and a perhaps an “autopsy” are in order.
    But not so for the Democratic Party these days, whose officials are still searching about for scapegoats.: – Boston Herald
    “The call for a deep and detailed accounting of how Clinton lost a race that she and her donors were absolutely certain she’d win didn’t begin immediately after the election — there was too much shock over her defeat by Donald Trump, and overwhelming grief. Her initial conference call with top backers, which came just days after the outcome, focused primarily on FBI Director Jim Comey’s late campaign-season intervention.
    But in the weeks since, the wealthy Democrats who helped pump over $1 billion into Clinton’s losing effort have been urging their local finance staffers, state party officials, and campaign aides to provide a more thorough explanation of what went wrong. With no dispassionate, centralized analysis of how Clinton failed so spectacularly, they insist, how can they be expected to keep contributing to the party?

    Or, in the words of a Midwestern fundraiser who’s kept in touch with fellow donors, “A lot of people are saying, ‘I’m not putting another (expletive deleted) dime in until someone tells me what just happened.’”” – politico.com

    “It’s from this perspective that I’m watching the various efforts to deprive Donald Trump of his majority when the electors meet in their respective states this week.
    It’s all a shadow play—entertaining, provocative, but bearing no relation to current political reality.
    The prospect of persuading 37 Trump electors to rebel is all but non-existent.
    Is there any basis to believe that a GOP-controlled House and Senate would accept the vote of a defecting elector as “regularly given”? (They have in the past, but in those cases, the stray vote or two had no impact at all on the outcome.)” – Dailybeast.com

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Garysinisefoundation.org
    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

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