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Littwin: Colorado is now bluer than blue. But is anyone more blue today than Gardner and state Republicans?

Colorado has made its statement, but the BIG statement — as a certain president would tweet — is far from decided. Votes are still being counted and the lawyers are on the way.

Now it’s official. Colorado is no longer a blue state. It’s now a deep-blue state, a deeper-than-the-ocean-blue blue state, bluer-than-a-B.B.-King-Eric-Clapton-duet blue state.

While we still don’t know who’s going to win the presidential race, and may not for a while, we know that Joe Biden clobbered Donald Trump in Colorado. Trump lost by five points in 2016. This year, last I checked, it was 15 points. Yes, 15 points with 83% of the vote counted.

When Cory Gardner beat Mark Udall six years ago, he was hailed as a model for a new way forward for state Republicans and, for that matter, Republicans in all swing states. Now that he has been slammed by John Hickenlooper — last I looked, it was 11 points — he’s just another victim of the state’s bluer-than-blue wave. 

Mike Littwin

And, remember, it was all but unanimous among pundits that Hickenlooper had not run a particularly inspiring campaign, one that began with the distinct memory of Hick saying, back when he was running for president, that he didn’t want to be a senator and that he didn’t think he’d be any good at it. Meanwhile, Gardner has spent millions trying to convince Coloradans, who had been electing Hickenlooper to one office or another for 16 years, that he was a crook, which didn’t seem like the greatest game plan while running on a ticket with the Corrupter in Chief himself.

In the last few weeks, when it seemed clear that Gardner was going to lose, I kept hearing that some Republicans were hoping he would take on Michael Bennet in 2022. I’m guessing at this point, Gardner is looking for some other kind of work, something a little cushier than running for the Senate as a Republican in the state of Colorado.

It isn’t just Colorado, of course. Fox has called Arizona for Biden — although the other networks hadn’t yet — a result that was unthinkable just a few years ago. New Mexico has gone from purple to blue. Nevada, which hasn’t been called yet, is growing bluer by the election cycle. Take away Utah and it’s a straight run through to California.

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For those of us, including not a few pollsters, who mistakenly thought Biden might be on his way to an easy Electoral College victory and a repudiation of the Trump years and a sense that tens of thousands of people had died of COVID unnecessarily, it’s stunning to think where Colorado is right now, with everything decided. Meanwhile, the erstwhile Blue Wall states — certainly not quite blue yet — are headed into the maw of a closely contested election with the inevitable mad rush of lawyers heading their way.

And, of course, they’re seeing Donald Trump tweet, as no other president would, “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!” Twitter flagged Trump’s comment as possibly misleading. There was also a spelling issue. In other words, Trump is still president, and the pandemic may still define the election.

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The fact that it looks as if it’s down, once again, to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — although it should be noted that Georgia hasn’t been called yet — makes all the billions of dollars, all the TV ads, all the blood and tears, seem a little, well, unnecessary. We could have just rerun 2016 in those three states and seen if it turned out differently this time. 

In Colorado, all is strangely calm. Now that Gardner has been replaced by Hickenlooper, Democrats will own all of Colorado’s major statewide seats. Meanwhile, the Gallagher Amendment goes down, the anti-abortion referendum goes down, family leave wins, the voting compact wins. Oh, and taxes are going down, too. It seems that however blue Colorado gets, it’s not going to vote to tax itself. Did I forget about the wolves? Frankly, I don’t know what the wolf vote means.

It’s not that Colorado is an overwhelmingly liberal state. It’s a moderately liberal state, the kind that wins with people like Hickenlooper and Bennet and Salazar and Udall. I know many people thought that electing Jared Polis as governor was somehow different. But this far into Polis’ tenure, I don’t think anyone is calling him radical. I mean, Polis was hinting, as many Dems cringed, that he favored the tax cut initiative even as the state struggles to pay its bills.

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The only real plus for Republicans — and the plus part is debatable — is that it looks as if Lauren Boebert will likely win in the 3rd Congressional District. Boebert, of course, is the gun-slinging Trump acolyte who is ready to flirt with QAnon or whatever other group you can find on the fringes of the far right. Do Republicans think she’s the one to lead the GOP back in Colorado? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course they don’t.

But that’s for another day. Colorado has made its statement. Now we wait for the rest of the country.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.


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