Election 2020 Kamala Harris

Then-Sen. Kamala Harris talks with former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in February 2019.

Democrat Joe Biden is set to become the next president of America.

Somewhere in heaven, the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona and the late Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, no fans of President Donald Trump, are high-fiving and laughing. Their red states voted blue.

Trump, of course, finds it inconceivable that the country rejected him and claims if only “legal” votes are counted he will win. In his mind, legal means votes for him, and he says he’s going to court to prove it.

Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, made history on so many levels. The first woman veep. And she’s the daughter of immigrants: Her mother grew up in India and her father, who is black, is from Jamaica.

Four days after the election, on an unseasonably warm November, a number of Americans took to the streets. They celebrated not only the victory of the Democratic ticket, but also the defeat of Trump, who, four years ago, lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, but won the Electoral College.

The post on Arapahoe County prosecutor Leora Joseph’s Facebook post said it all: “Be sure to wear shoes, ladies. There’s glass everywhere.”

Republicans rightly pointed out two things: They were upset with the outcome, but they weren’t out breaking windows and setting fires, and a number of the celebrants didn’t appear to be wearing masks.

In Colorado, Democrats did way better than four years ago when Clinton defeated Trump by 5 percentage points. The Biden-Harris ticket beat Trump 55% to 42%, and former Gov. John Hickenlooper knocked off U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner by a smaller but still large margin, 53% to 44%.

So far, every state has set a record for voter turnout. Military and overseas ballots are coming in, and in some states election officials were not allowed to begin processing ballots until after 7 on election night.

It was an exhausting week for America.

3rd Congressional District

My friend Tustin Amole, who now lives in Cortez, is nervous about sending Republican Lauren Boebert to Congress to represent the Western Slope.

It’s not because Boebert is a Republican. Tustin is a liberal for the most part, but she voted for Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams when he ran for reelection in 2018.

It’s not because of Boebert’s connection to QAnon, the bizarre right-wing theory about a pedophile ring with links to Hollywood, the media and the Democratic Party. Boebert knew enough in the campaign to pull back, even though it’s likely she’s still on board.

No, Tustin’s big concern is that Colorado is a tinderbox, with drought in every single county and fires as late as October that devoured homes in the northern part of the state.

Water is as big an issue as coronavirus, and Tustin can’t see Boebert sitting through lengthy committee hearings soaking up information. That’s why Tustin backed Democrat Diane Mitsch-Bush, a former state lawmaker and Routt County commissioner who knows policy.

“Mitsch Bush wants to remove federal obstacles to ensure hemp farmers can use their water rights. She supports the continuation of loans for family farms, ranches and small businesses,” Tustin wrote in a letter to the editor that appeared in the Cortez Journal.

Full disclosure: I donated to Mitsch-Bush’s campaign. I covered her in the Legislature and watched her split with Democrats on some gun issues.

I also covered Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, who went on to become the congressman in the 3rd District. I was among those who were surprised that Boebert took him out in the GOP primary in June.

Check out the math

We don’t have a final tally on ballot returns in Colorado, but the initial figures provide some fascinating insight.

In most, but not all Colorado counties, Biden did better than Hickenlooper and Gardner received more votes than Trump.

Douglas County Democrats thought this year might be their year, but Republicans won every legislative and county office. Still, Republicans need to worry about what The Denver Post’s Jon Murray calls the “leftward march of Denver’s suburbs.” Jefferson and Arapahoe counties are already there.

Trump defeated Biden in Douglas County 52% to 45%. But only eight years ago, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won 62% to President Obama’s 36% in the county. Four years later, Trump won 55% to Clinton’s 37%; Libertarian Gary Johnson took 5% of the vote.

The Senate race

The blue wave never happened, despite tweets nationwide from folks who said they couldn’t wait for the concession speeches from Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis, Republicans who all won reelection to the U.S. Senate.

Six years ago, Gardner earned the distinction of being the first Coloradan to unseat a U.S. senator in 36 years when he defeated Democrat Mark Udall by less than 2 percentage points. The record lasted all of six years.

Gardner couldn’t shake his association with Trump — in one debate, when asked whether the president was moral he said “yes.” And then there was the state’s leftward tilt.

Because of the coronavirus, Democrats and Republicans skipped the traditional ballroom festivities with the winners dropping balloons from the ceiling and the losing side forming long lines at the bar. Gardner and Hickenlooper’s speeches were prerecorded.

Neither Gardner nor Hickenlooper had ever lost an election before; the senator called Hickenlooper to congratulate him and to offer his help.

“His success is Colorado’s success. Our nation and our state needs him to succeed,” Gardner said.

The death of the swing voter

In 2002, Republican Gov. Bill Owens and Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar won with nearly identical results over their opponents. Owens received 63%, Salazar 62%. That means the swing between the Republican candidates with the highest and lowest totals was 25 points.

Two years later, Colorado would again split its votes, sending Salazar to the U.S. Senate but reelecting President George W. Bush.

Last election, Democrats won all the statewide offices and the swing between the Democrat with the highest vote total and the lowest was a mere 2 points. This year is almost the same.

In the ’Loop'

Hickenlooper initially said he didn’t think he’d do a good job as senator and he wasn’t interested in the job, but he goes to D.C. with some serious chops.

Biden was vice president six of the years Hickenlooper was governor, and the two administrations regularly talked.

Clinton in 2016 considered Hickenlooper as a running mate and the conventional wisdom when he wasn’t chosen said he would be in the Cabinet if she won.

In addition, during Hickenlooper’s brief run for president, he mingled on the campaign trail with other candidates, including Biden and Harris. By all accounts, Hick and Harris were close.

The ballot measures

Gray wolves are coming back to Colorado and pit bulls are returning to Denver.

As I said on Twitter: “What is the penalty if a pit bull kills a gray wolf?”

Lynn Bartels thinks politics is like sports but without the big salaries and protective cups. The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog named her one of Colorado’s best political reporters and tweeters.

Load comments