Colorado Republicans dread losing ground to Democrats 2023

After previous losses and close calls in conservative areas of Colorado, Republicans worry that Democrats are gaining ground.

This week, Republicans lost the Colorado Springs mayoral contest for the first time in decades, dealing the GOP another setback in the Centennial State.

Last year, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) almost lost her reelection in one of the midterms’ greatest upsets.

Republicans want to maintain their tiny House majority in next year’s elections despite Colorado’s shifting political scene.

“Across the board in Colorado, we saw a swing to the left that was wholly unanticipated” in the November midterms, said Republican lobbyist Sandra Hagen Solin, creator of Capitol Solutions.

“Colorado has a lot of vote-splitting because people vote the person. “And this election cycle, it was largely an up-and-down-the-ticket vote for party, for Democrats,” she continued.

On Tuesday, Colorado Springs voters chose independent Yemi Mobolade against former Colorado secretary of state Wayne Williams. Republican mayors have ruled the city for 45 years.

In a once-Republican stronghold, Mobolade won the Tuesday runoff by 15 points after topping the April 12-candidate mayoral primary.

“Colorado Springs is less conservative now. We had no Democratic state legislators while I was El Paso County Republican Party chairman. “Now we have three,” Williams told The Gazette after his election setback. “There are significant changes and I congratulate Yemi on an excellent campaign.”

While experts attribute that wide margin win to Mobolade’s strong campaign, a divided GOP, and the state’s rapid growth, which has impacted cities like Colorado Springs and changed the electoral dynamic, past election cycles have pointed to a changing political landscape over the past decade.

Trump won El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs, by almost 20 points in 2016. Trump only won the county by 11 points by 2020. Joe O’Dea, the Republican Senate contender who lost to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) last cycle, won the county by 9 points with 55% of the vote.

“That’s a defeat for a Republican candidate,”

Boebert’s congressional district provides more statistics. She represents the state’s southern and western 3rd Congressional District. Before Boebert, former Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) won the district by 8 points in 2018.

In 2020 and 2022, Boebert won by 6 and 1 points, respectively. As Republicans prepare for another challenging election, Democrat Adam Frisch, who battled Boebert in the 2022 elections, has made a second effort to retake the district.

Republicans argue Colorado’s purple status has become blue in recent years for several reasons. As more people move to Colorado, its demographics are shifting.

The U.S. Census Bureau said that 744,000 individuals migrated to the state between 2010 and 2020, a roughly 15% rise that was double the national growth, according to The Colorado Sun. Experts believe Californians are migrating, changing politics. Newcomers are younger.

Unaffiliated voter registration is rising. Colorado had 35% unaffiliated voters in November 2016. 32 percent were Democrats and Republicans.

Last November, 45 percent of voters were unaffiliated, 28 percent were Democrats, and 25 percent were Republicans.

“Demographics are the main reason Colorado is becoming bluer. Kristi Burton Brown, who just resigned as state GOP chair, stated, “The people coming into our state are liberal, and the people leaving are conservative.”

Automatic voter registration has increased the state’s unaffiliated voters, according to Burton Brown. “A lot of younger people are disillusioned with how divisive politics has become,” she said, adding that unaffiliated voters are rising.

“I think if either party could bring back more basic respect in politics and a positive vision that moves people forward instead of always just saying what people are angry about, that could draw younger people to a party,” she added.

Other observers say Republicans’ biggest concern is impacting even their best prospects, including O’Dea.

“The Republican brand in this state has been so damaged by not just Trump, although he’s very toxic in the state, but beyond that, just by their sort of taking extreme positions on previous nominees, on ballot initiatives that were often soundly defeated on abortion and some of the other issues that O’Dea couldn’t get out from under the brand,” said Denver-based pollster Floyd Ciruli.

Meanwhile, GOP divisions have emerged. In March, election denier Dave Williams, who lost a House GOP race last cycle, won the state GOP party chair election.

That drove numerous prominent Republicans out. Capitol Solutions lobbying business founder Hagen Solin argued state party leadership isn’t representative of the state GOP’s past.

“We’ve had a wonderful history of Republican leadership in this state that’s quite moderate over the years, but at present those in positions of leadership within the party… do not reflect that more moderate, pragmatic sort of tone,” she said. The Republican Party will need time to rebuild trust.

Williams denied that criticism in The Hill interview.

“These are excuses from failed Republicans who want nothing more than to support sell-out Republicans who failed us,” he said.

We’re not here to take sides, but we won’t let failed consultants and establishment Republicans off the hook. “They failed us,” he added.

Williams said O’Dea lost because “he just wasn’t a quality candidate that people could believe in.”

The former congressman stated that the Republican candidate was bruised coming into the Colorado Springs mayoral runoff after the April first round, but he also hinted that grassroots Republicans had reservations about Williams.

Republicans must rebuild their reputation in the state to win competitive House districts like the 3rd and 8th in 2024 and Senate and governor campaigns in 2026.

“I think Republicans are in for a little bit of a ‘time out’ in the wilderness until they shed themselves of the Trump-MAGA brand, which could take a long time,” said Democratic strategist Craig Hughes. “Outside of that, they’ll need very unique candidates with unique stories.”

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