Littwin: In case Trump missed it, the Dem victories in Colorado were huger than huge

A Jared Polis supporter celebrates his gubernatorial win on Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo by Evan Semón)
A Jared Polis supporter celebrates his gubernatorial win on Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo by Evan Semón)

Pick your adjective to describe the Democratic tsunami in Colorado Tuesday — huge, monumental, colossal, ginormous  — and I promise I can top it.

This wasn’t just your ordinary crush-the-opposition victory for the Democrats. This was very possibly the greatest election night ever for Democrats in Colorado.

Yes, ever.

There was 1974, the Watergate year, the Gary Hart year. And 2006 was pretty startling, the year when Republicans, who were dominating Colorado politics, first saw their hold on the state begin to slip. And now this night. This night. 

This was a night when Jared Polis took the stage to loud speakers blaring Dylan’s “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call,” and no one in the room seemed to doubt that the times really were a-changin’.

“If (Phil) Weiser wins, it may be the biggest Democratic election night of my lifetime,” Alan Salazar told me. I figured Salazar, Michael Hancock’s chief of staff and a long-time Dem strategist who has worked for nearly every notable Colorado Dem, would know.

And, of course, Weiser did win the race for attorney general over George Brauchler. And Democrats swept all the down-ballot races. Those offices — secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general — typically go to Republicans in Colorado, nearly as reliably as the governor’s seat goes to Democrats.

Then I bumped into Mike Johnston — it was that kind of night — who told me he had been talking about this very thing with Roy Romer.

“Roy told me he couldn’t remember a time when Democrats held all the constitutional statewide offices and both houses of the legislature,” Johnston said. “And he’s 90.”

Actually, it apparently did happen in 1936, 1916 and 1912, but you get the idea.

So now the question is whether Colorado, the ultimate swing state, is still a purple state. The obvious answer, in the short term, would be no. I mean, how much more blue can you get? But the real answer is, well, it’s complicated.

I think if there’s anything we’ve learned in Colorado politics this campaign season, it’s that we no longer fit neatly into the red vs. blue dynamic. We’re not alone there, as we saw Democrats take back the U.S. House in a rebuke of Trump, but in Colorado, we are now clearly a Trumpist orange vs. blue state.

And so the Dems’ big night went, with Trumpism the clear loser.

It wasn’t just the Jared Polis victory that put Republicans on their heels. He was heavily favored, after all.  It was the enormity of everything else that happened.

Democrats took back the state Senate to control both houses of the legislature and give Polis a path forward for much of his agenda. Jason Crow crushed the forever-uncrushable Mike Coffman to win the 6th Congressional District seat. And Joe Neguse became the first African-American to represent Colorado in Congress, taking Polis’ old seat. 

Polis ran a very effective campaign. Yes, he had the money, so much money, but he used it well. He undercut Stapleton’s too-radical, too-extreme argument by refusing to seem too radical or too extreme. But it’s hard to see what Republicans could have done to stop him, short of seceding from TrumpWorld. According to the AP VoteCast exit poll, Trump’s approval rating in Colorado is way underwater at 42-to-58 percent.

Give Republicans some credit. They did manage to nominate an establishment candidate for governor in Stapleton. No Dan Maes. No Tom Tancredo. But it didn’t matter. Stapleton wasn’t a good campaigner, and the odds were stacked against him in any case, particularly once he embraced Trump and Tancredo during the primary election. By the final week, Polis was calling Stapleton “Trump’s yes man,” just to be sure he had clinched the deal. 

That leaves the Republicans with Cory Gardner as a U.S. senator and the only Republican to hold statewide office. When Gardner won four years ago, beating incumbent Mark Udall, it seemed that he had invented a way forward for Republicans in Colorado. Now, he’s the last line of defense. And in 2020, when he presumably runs for re-election, he’ll be running on the same ticket as Trump. 

And it’s worse than that. Gardner is tied to the hip to Republican leadership in the Senate. And Republican leadership fully endorses whatever madness and ugliness Trump promotes. Gardner may be a very clever politician, but it’s hard to see any way he can rid himself of Trump by 2020. Coffman tried desperately and was clobbered for his troubles.

And Democrats will be hot for Gardner’s Senate seat. I mentioned Mike Johnston earlier. He’s likely to run for the nomination, and even though he finished third in the Democratic primary for governor, he came out of the race in very good shape. And then there’s the Hickenlooper question. My guess is that Hick’s quest for the presidency is, to be kind, a long shot and that, when he comes home, Democrats will be pushing him for a showdown against Gardner. 

But that’s for another day.

For this day, there’s Jared Polis, who is, of course, the state’s first openly gay governor. It’s a big deal and it’s not a big deal, which says good things about Colorado. Polis’ sexuality was never a factor in the race. And maybe the best moment of the Democrats’ wild night was when Polis introduced his husband, Marlon Reis, as the “first First Man of Colorado.”

At the introduction, the crowd at the victory party went more than slightly nuts. And no wonder. It affirmed the notion that Colorado, despite its shameful Amendment 2 anti-gay past, is a far different state now. And more than that, this election showed Colorado’s complete rejection of TrumpWorld, that dark place in which a president closes out his midterm campaign with words of fear, hostility and bigotry. Blue, purple, orange or whatever, Coloradans weren’t listening.


  1. Is Colorado Purple?

    Not so much.

    Blue with purple polka dots.

    That’s what we call a sea change election folks.

    I’m hoping that the Republicans who have clung to their racism and their guns and their homophobic bigotry for so long here in Colorado will finally get the message that we’re not putting up with it any more.

    For those who just can’t seem to drop those vestiges of a bygone era…There’s always Wyoming or Utah. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

  2. Another thing to keep in mind as the conservatives try to put lipstick on the pig this morning, is that millions more people voted for Democrat Senatorial and Congressional candidates than voted for their Republican counterparts.

    Many millions.

    How many popular votes have Republicans lost in a row now?

    Knowing you’re the overwhelming political minority in your own country must be hard to swallow. It’s tough calling this country a full democracy when the tyranny of the minority continues in the Senate and the WH.

  3. So basically, unless you live in the Denver area, you lost.
    Colorado is still primarily red geographically, but the population centers have the numbers to overwhelm the rest of the state.
    It is sad what is happening to our once proudly independent state.
    I came here from the east coast to flee a repressive government. I thought Colorado would be safe for individual freedom. I thought Colorado would always be a haven for “rugged individualism”.
    I guess I was wrong. Too many people here are becoming willing to trade the risks of freedom for the comfort that big government promises. Too many people have forgotten that we should inherently distrust centralized power.
    Too many vote with their feelings instead of with rational thought. Too many have been duped by the promises of a government that will provide their needs without abusing that power.
    But I am not ready to give up on Colorado just yet.
    It is nice to know that there is still a free state not too far away though.
    At least Wyoming is still cold and inhospitable enough to keep the power hungry liberals out.

  4. And then there is Elbert County where the majority of voters were against removing “slavery” from the state constitution.

  5. There was actually some concern raised that the change in language might allow legal challenge to court ordered community service. If court ordered community service could be construed as “involuntary servitude” then many offenders who might have received community service for their crimes might instead have to serve prison time. So, don’t make assumptions about the reasoning behind those who voted against the change in the Constitution. It may not be for the reasons you assume.
    Time will tell if the concerns of unintended consequences will bear out.

  6. Sessions was just forced out. The constitutional crisis has officially begun.

    BTW…should someone be proud of searching the country for a state allowing for the “freedom” to be a racist or homophobe or a misogynist?

    Should we pity them for not finding a more welcoming environment for that crap in Colorado?

    Methinks not.

  7. tRump is now worried. Sessions being forced out means he is trying to sidetrack Mueller before the dems start changing the House. Look for more trash from the Senate, even shutdown!. The fat is in the fire.

  8. Yes it is. He knows damn well that had he forced out Sessions before the election, Republicans would have taken an even bigger spanking at the ballot box. What an absolute coward.

    The indictments and the real Congressional investigations can’t get here fast enough. I’ll bet Mueller drops at least one yet this week due to the possibility of political persecution by the new boss.

  9. Jay, so typical, everyone who disagrees with you is a racist bigot nazi homophobe etc…
    Democrats love denigrating hard working patriotic citizens that love the country and their neighbors and frankly it’s disturbing. 2nd amendment is part of the constitution and we don’t have an issue with gays, that’s your imagination. But go ahead and slur away. Trying to rip the state apart into tribalism is a very bad idea sir.

  10. Was that meant for me?
    If so, I can tell you that I am none of the foul things you accuse me of.
    For me freedom means the ability to live as you choose as long as you are not infringing on the rights of others to live as they choose. Government should be just big enough to foster an environment where the most people are the most free.

  11. Dan, I’ve lived here for two years. I came here to escape Los Angeles and the radical politics there.
    Sorry to say, it’s dawning on me…Colorado sucks now as well. I love all people but I don’t take kindly to be called a Nazi because I politically disagree with otherwise good folks. Half of my family was wiped out in concentration camps by actual Nazis and I’m called a Nazi if I wear a MAGA Hat in Denver. The elitest NPC Democrat Robots that judge and name call so carelessly should really be ashamed of themselves. And No, Colorado doesn’t feel so independent anymore. It’s a Blue State now, the taxes will be going up with Democrats in control and once again, I’m moving along with my business to a state where I can live a chill life under low taxation and hopefully be left alone by the government,

  12. And then you must be a fascist.
    See we can all make hyperbolic generalizations.
    That approach may win elections (it seems to have worked splendidly this time), but it does not foster a healthy debate or a healthy country.
    I doubt that you are a fascist, or that you are evil. I probably just disagree with your policy approaches.
    They may be well intended, but I think they are ultimately counter productive.

  13. See that didn’t take long. Gun control isn’t “fascism”….and being able to distill Republican motivations down to either being Rambo, a religious extremist or a bigot ain’t hyperbole. It’s far, far too common to be labeled as such. In the age of Comrade Chump we of course have to add misogyny.

    Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. Think about any major modern conservative policy stance. Nine times out ten, you can trace the foundations for those policies to the intersections of religion, misogyny, racism/bigotry or gun fetishism…Even the economics.

    I find that the conservatives who speak in code about “freedoms” often have to be goaded into revealing their true motivations because it inevitably comes down to one or more of those Republican “traditions”.

    And they’re embarrassing motivations upon which to build policy stances…so I don’t blame you for playing that game.

    When you get down to it, however…can you have a healthy rational debate with someone with those motivations?

    Again…methinks not.

    Intellectually Honest Republicans….and maybe you are one of the rare ones…have been acknowledging these uncomfortable truths, and hopefully, they’ll start kicking out those in their midst who harbor these deficiencies of character.

    Because come on…it can’t feel good to be on the same side of the political spectrum as racists and misogynists, right?

    Lots of soul searching on the right to do.

  14. See…guns is your thing. That’s great. No one is coming for your guns. I have guns. Lots of them. Many dems do. I’ll repeat. No one is coming for them. It’s a foolish reason to vote Republican because you fear the brown shirts coming for your firearms in the dead of the night. Wake up. My guess is you’re not being truthful about the other two legs of the conservative foot stool.

    The immigrants coming to claim asylum in the US. Do you welcome them?

    And it ain’t “tribalism” that is the problem. We don’t need code words. The problem is racism and misogyny. It’s religious extremism.

    This ain’t a hard concept, so I’m a little shocked that folks are still having a tough time understanding it. People care about the maga hats because they have become associated with the racist folks seen wearing them on national television. Repeatedly. Don’t like the association? Kick the racists out of your party. People don’t wear white hoods anymore for the exact same reason.

  15. Jay,

    Someone’s throwing tantrums again. Be nice or you’ll get another spanking.
    Tell me how the US Senate represents what you call “the tyranny of the minority”?
    And how’s your effort to dissolve the Electoral College coming along?

  16. I tell you buddy, there are a couple of long term projects on the left that involve a couple more statehoods, but the EC has probably turned its last trick and doesn’t warrant the attention. Fool me twice…can’t get fooled again, right? The demographics should take care of the EC.

    Here’s the thing with the Senate. You guys barely held a majority in a year when the wind was at your back.
    You’re cheering victories in places that shouldn’t be a problem. Ted Cruz barely held off a challenger in TEXAS. The 2020 Senate electoral map is a worst case scenario for Republicans in a presidential election year. It’s going to be super ugly.

    You lost elections in super red states. I’m from Kansas, partner. That’s not a good sign when those folks vote for Democrats.

    Think about that for a minute.

    That’s how far the Republicans have shifted since selling their souls for a tax cut for the wealthy and a couple of Supreme Court picks with views not shared by the majority of Americans.

    The cannibalism within the Republican party is about to get frothy…and this time…rigging the census and gerrymandering ain’t gonna work. Too many people are paying attention.

  17. Sorry…to answer your question…with a question…who got more votes this year….Democratic senators, or Republican?

  18. Jay,

    So, in other words, the Electoral College is still the law of the land.

    I don’t know how to break this to you but the Republicans increased (that’s right, increased) their majority in the Senate so if in the next two years our president should get the opportunity to nominate yet another Supreme Court justice he has an even larger majority. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s great news.

    I don’t know the answer to your question, “who got more votes this year….Democratic senators, or Republican?” but I’m not sure it matters. However, as I mentioned above In the year of the so-called “blue wave” the Republicans gained seats in the Senate. How do you like that?

    Just out of curiosity, what does this mean: “The cannibalism within the Republican party is about to get frothy”

    By the way, do you know what this Sunday is? Actually, considering your background that’s an unfair question so I’ll give you a hint: it’s Veterans Day an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans; that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces.

    As a veteran who protected your right to vote and your freedom of speech I’d like to say: You’re welcome!

    Here’s something I’m sure we’ll both agreed on:

    Happy Veterans Day!!!

    PS You still haven’t told me why the US Senate represents what you call “the tyranny of the minority”? You do realize Democrats are the minority in the Senate even more so today than the were Monday.

  19. Really…willful ignorance?

    Just answer the question….did more Americans vote for Democrats or Republicans this election? How about the last several elections?

    Not a difficult question for the intellectually honest….

  20. If “rugged individualism” means not providing any kind of safety net or support to struggling families, people with chronic health conditions, the elderly, etc, then yea, count me OUT! That has never been and I hope never will be my Colorado (I was born and raised here). Colorado’s expansion of Medicaid under the ACA has made a huge difference in peoples’ lives, and it’s one of the many things that sets us apart from neighbors like Kansas, where you’re not eligible for Medicaid unless you have a child. People fall upon hard times in their lives; they lose their jobs, their car breaks down at the wrong time, they fall ill and can’t work. That’s just life, we can’t stop those things from ever happening but we can support people during those hard times.

    And guess what! Colorado’s economy is doing way better than neighboring states who massively cut taxes and as a result, cut services. When schools in Kansas shut down because there’s insufficient tax revenue, that hurts the entire community, including local businesses. Have you considered there might be a reason that THEY just elected a Democratic governor?

  21. So, regarding honesty, if you say that “no one is coming for your guns” does that mean you don’t support banning certain rifles? Or how about banning certain magazines? I suspect that you support both. Technically, if a said ban allows the grandfathering of currently owned weapons, you might argue that no one is taking anything away. But since these laws usually make it a crime to transfer the newly banned items, you are essentially taking them away from the family when the current owner dies. You are also removing the monetary value of these items since they now cannot be sold. You are just doing it over time to make it less obvious. Do you also oppose allowing someone’s guns to be seized without being first convicted of a crime? This is most certainly “coming for guns” in the literal sense. All it takes is an accusation in some cases.
    As far as the asylum seekers, as long as they apply for asylum through the legal channels and then subsequently appear for their court hearings and abide by the decisions of the court, then I have no problem with them. If they crash the gates, or fail to follow all applicable laws, then they should not be allowed to stay in the country. I am not against immigration, my family were immigrants. I am just against admitting those who refuse to follow our laws and rules. If we need to adjust those rules, then we need to do so through the legislature.
    The tribalism of which Supertalk wrote was the tribalism that you yourself are exhibiting. It is ironic that you decry “racism” and “extremism” while at the same time showing hatred, disdain, and a sense of superiority over others with whom you disagree.
    There are plenty of racists in both parties, just as there are plenty of misogynists and bigots in both parties. How you got convinced that your party is on the moral high ground on all issues is a mystery.
    I think you need to recognize that the vast majority of Americans are good, honest, solid people. This is true across the political spectrum. If Americans were not generally good people, our nation would have failed long ago.
    We obviously disagree on many policy matters, but I hope you can at least acknowledge that we both want the best for our fellow Americans.

  22. And that points to Don Lopez’ problem. Intellectual honesty is a .foreign enemy to Don

    NO repub has it.

    Since the KKK went a-hiding in the republican party. Around 1964.

  23. “When schools in Kansas shut down because there’s insufficient tax revenue, that hurts the entire community”

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but a measure to provide tax revenue for schools lost by a greater percentage of votes than Stapleton did. TWO ballot measure to provide CDOT with revenue to fix the state’s crumbling, overburdened roads, and they both went down in flames.

    Tell us again how forward-thinking and progressive the state is again?

  24. “Intellectual honest” would be accepting that your political ideology isn’t holy writ, and that not getting your way all the time doesn’t mean demanding to change the system to stack the deck in your favor.

    Try adopting the intellectual maturity of someone who’s advanced past the kindergarten stage of emotional development and you might understand this.

  25. Yeah dude, Wyoming’s still there. And they’re losing population so housing is cheap!

    I was born and raised in Colorado and I welcome Polis’ focus on the environment, education, and healthcare. Those aren’t urban issues like you’re suggesting. The first is especially rural but the other two are universal. Programs (schools and clinics) in rural counties need funding and Republicans have simply been unwilling to provide that. This new administration will be good for you and your kin. Just wait and see…or move to Wyoming.

  26. Dan, honestly don’t waste your time on “Jay”.

    He’s obviously a really tough keyboard warrior. He’s great at throwing slurs and accusations at honest, decent Americans like yourself.

    Assholes like Jay are eventually going to start a civil war in this country because they think they can take away the rights of other Americans and chase them out of a state because he’s been brainwashed to believe they are racists, bigots, homophobes, etc. It’s the same “dehumanizing” approach that his buddy Adolf used. What’s different is that Republicans and Conservatives are very well-armed. And they know how to use their weapons.

    Once Jay and his buddies push this country to civil war, we’ll see just how many guns “Jay” actually as and whether he knows how to use them. My guess is he’s full of shit….

    (I’m sure he’ll come back and talk really tough, watch….)

  27. Nope

    No one is buying the “both parties” con job any more either.

    Again….there is no moral equivalency between the parties.

    One has fostered an environment that appears welcoming to racists, bigots, misogynists and him fetishists.

    It ain’t the dems….

    Nice try though.

  28. If your “holy writ” is not intolerant of bigotry, racism and misogyny, why in the world would you adopt it as your political ideology?

    That’s the question of the year for conservatives.

    Let’s see if you can muster the intellectual honesty to answer it.

    The majority is supposed to get their way. That’s how it works. That’s how it had worked in modern American history until very recently.

    That’s why Comrade Chump is the most unpopular President* in history. That’s why voters cast more ballots for Democrats in the House and Senate than they did for Republicans this week. Republicans haven’t won the popular vote in many many years.

    There’s a reason for that. (See the above uncomfortable question)

    Again…I’m not sure why folks are still struggling with this concept two years later.

  29. “If your “holy writ” is not intolerant of bigotry, racism and misogyny, why in the world would you adopt it as your political ideology?”

    If your “holy writ” is built around begging the question, why would you adopt it as yours?

    “The majority is supposed to get their way. That’s how it works.”

    Unless the majority disagrees with your ideology, than they’re unjust. For all your pretensions, you’re really bad at disguising your special pleading.

    “That’s why Comrade Chump is the most unpopular President* in history.”

    A telling statement that shows you haven’t actually read history.

    “Again…I’m not sure why folks are still struggling with this concept two years later.”

    For someone who likes to mock his political opponents for being intellectually obtuse, you sure seem to marinate in it quite a bit yourself.

  30. I’m listening to Hannity have the same willfully ignorant tantrums about “leftist intolerance”.

    You still don’t get it.

    There’s a reason that Complicit Conservatives can’t go out for dinner anymore. No one will date them because of very particular issues.

    There’s nothing obtuse about it.

    Your party is the favorite of racists, misogynists and bigots.

    Just yours.

    Why wouldn’t we (the majority) be intolerant of that?

    Did you not think there would be a social price to pay for aligning yourselves with these folks?

    Where do you think you live?


  31. We’ll see what an independent group does with reapportionment in a few years.
    There are blue areas out in the Western part of the state like Durango and the surrounding area.
    What will happen to Grand Junction if the BLM headquarters gets moved there? Will adding thousands of government jobs to the area change the partisan demographics?

  32. I had to laugh when one commenter suggested Republicans who don’t want any concessions on gun safety or immigration high tail it to Wyoming. I lived and taught there for 21 years and 8 years after moving to Denver I sold my cabin there. It is DEFINITELY the right place for AR-15 loving oil and gas loving Republicans though in recent years the State, which refuses to implement even the smallest income tax (another incentive, Jay) fell on hard times. You would never have to worry about a blue wave there, or a transgendered person, if there are any who survive in that environment, winning any kind of election, although occasionally they elect a moderate Democrat for governor. They love Trump though God Knows he’s the kind of New Yorker most of them hate. As for me, another New Yorker, I moved to Co. because I was uncomfortable with the politics there–as well as the poor Medical care, and the insular, stranger-hating people who put bumper stickers on their pick ups that said, “Welcome to Wyoming, we don’t give a f–k how you do it back home!” You never discussed politics with anyone whose views you didn’t already know–and fortunately there were a significant number of Democrats one could talk with who thought the wild, unpopulated beauty was consolation for losing every election. Even Annie Proulx eventually used Wyoming up.. Jay, you’ll love it there, and they even have a few sushi bars now. Before I left I met a few people who’d moved to Wyoming from Colorado because, they said, Co. was becoming too much like California. A fond farewell to them, as well, I hope, to Corey Gardner, and hurray for the younger more liberal crowd moving in

  33. Jay scares me. Read his words. He does not believe in Democracy because folks who disagree with him, even modestly, are not worthy. It’s clear he wants a one party state run by those who are correct thinkers. Without checks and balances (read the Constitution) one party rule yields unfettered power. Ultimately, that power is abused (Illinois, New York, California, North Carolina to name but four). Once established, the one-party state is difficult, if not impossible, to change. Jay certainly would object to the removal of his like-thinkers, no matter how corrupt. A popular observation when I lived-in Illinois: Uncle Frank was a life-long Republican. But after he died, he voted Democrat.

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