LAKEWOOD, COLO.--On Monday, the Obama 2012 campaign rolled out its announcement video, which not surprisingly included a Colorado woman named Catherine. Once again, Colorado will be a top-tier competitive state in a presidential election, and women voters will be critical.
But on the ground here, state dynamics are already working against the Republicans. All politics are local, and two local events demonstrate the difficulty a Republican presidential candidate will have winning Colorado. [See political cartoons about the 2012 Republican presidential field.]
One, it looks like the "personhood" advocates are gathering signatures again to put yet another anti-choice measure on the ballot. If the Republican presidential nominee is anti-choice--and they likely will be given the Republican base--this is a problem.
Colorado is arguably the most pro-choice state in the country, and even former Republican State Party Chair Dick Wadhams admitted it likely cost Ken Buck a Senate seat. [Check out political cartoons about the Republican Party.]
He told National Journal's Ron Brownstein, “If our presidential nominee in 2012…appears too extreme on abortion or gay marriage or some other social issue, there’s a slice of the electorate that clearly could go back to Obama."
And the Democrats know that. Obama adviser David Axelrod told Brownstein he is specifically looking at the Colorado model.
Number two, Colorado House Republicans killed a civil unions bill in committee last week. Why does this matter? First of all, more than 70 percent of Colorado voters favor civil unions.
More ominously for the Republicans, the vote angered Tim Gill. As Fox 31's Eli Stokols put it in his report after the vote, "Thursday's GOP vote equates to kicking a hornet's nest--a hornet's nest named Tim Gill."
Gill is a multimillionaire, openly gay, and a deep-pocketed member of the Four Horsemen largely responsible for financing the Democratic takeover in Colorado. Gill had an op-ed in the Denver Post condemning the vote the next day:
The same old divisive politics that brought me into the political sphere 17 years ago reared its ugly head again this past week. The leadership of the Colorado House suffers from a complete lack of vision.
We Coloradans will achieve meaningful relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples in Colorado, and we will do it because Coloradans are good and decent people.
…if not, we will have an opportunity to change the legislature, because in the end, Colorado deserves better.
Gill's attorney Ted Trimpa flatly said the financial commitment went up tenfold after the vote, telling Stokols, "It might be a difference of, before, spending $200,000 [on 2012 House races], and now spending $2 million."
If the Obama campaign is smart--and I have no doubt it is--it will spend the slow-cooking Republican presidential nomination process to pound Republicans on social issues and make their candidate unacceptable to Western voters in particular. Republicans in Colorado just added fuel to that fire.