Defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton thanks supporters as his family, disappointed but always supportive, look on.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
The Villager talked to a dozen unaffiliated south metro area voters after last week’s election. Four said they voted thoughtfully for each individual candidate for major offices, splitting their votes between Republicans and Democrats, though mostly favoring Republican incumbents. The other seven admitted, some sheepishly that they had voted a straight Democratic ticket, though most could not name all the major candidates for whom they had checked the box.
They said they voted for Democrats because they were “fed up with the president’s inhumane policies,” or wanted to make a statement about the Republicans’ “failure to speak out against Trump’s behavior, especially being untruthful.”
The youngest voter was an unaffiliated female in her 30s. She said, “Republicans are letting (President) Trump make us a laughing-stock on the world stage. I voted for all Democrats because I think they are more inclusive and will institute policies that benefit everyone.” A professional in his 60s who considers himself conservative said, “I used to be a true independent. This time I just voted for Democrats.”
It was widely predicted that Governor-Elect Jared Polis would defeat former state treasurer Walker Stapleton Nov. 6. The reasons are a matter for wide speculation, but the fact is that nearly every poll predicted essentially the same final result. One of the more comprehensive reports on the subject was jointly published Oct. 2 by Republican pollster David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies and Democratic pollster Chris Keating of Keating Research. It was based on telephone interviews on land lines and cell phones conducted from Sept. 18 to 20. It is 45 pages long and lists numerous details about which issues were most important to which voters.
In the race for governor, the pollsters found that Polis lead Stapleton by 18 points among all unaffiliated voters and 17 points among all women voters. On Nov. 1, 39 percent of registered voters in Colorado were unaffiliated and 50 percent of registered voters were women. It surprised few who looked at the race objectively that when the votes were counted, Polis won by nine points.
In the race for state attorney general (AG), the Republican candidate was 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, a popular prosecutor first elected in 2012 and re-elected without opposition four years later. He continues to serve in that position. He did not need to resign to run for AG. Brauchler obtained the conviction of Aurora theater shooter and unsuccessfully sought the death penalty in that case. He viewed the role of AG as ending at the state’s borders unless the federal government “expressly violates our laws, our rights, our Constitution…”
Democratic Colorado Attorney General-elect Phil Weiser, whose government background is at the federal level and served as dean of the CU law school, took a much different view. Weiser openly said that he got into the race specifically to act as a check on Trump, invoking asylum seekers and family separation as issues.
There was virtually no polling done on this race, but Brauchler was a seasoned, popular politician who received numerous endorsements from a host of law enforcement and political officials from across the state, and The Denver Post. Even the Colorado Associations of Realtors and Home Builders gave him their endorsement. Weiser’s endorsements were almost exclusively from Democratic elected officials, current and former.
When the votes were counted and Weiser had won by 116,256, constituting nearly five percentage points, many were surprised. When the margin in Arapahoe County, where 63 percent of voters in the 18th judicial district reside, turned out to be over 12 percentage points, many were downright shocked. Douglas County, which contains 33 percent of the population of the 18th judicial district, awarded Brauchler 60 percent of its votes, compared to 37 percent for Weiser.
Businessman Brian Watson tries to share positive thoughts with the Republican faithful after conceding to state treasurer-elect Rep. Dave Young. Photos by Freda Miklin
What accounted for the huge difference? In Douglas County, where there are more than twice as many Republican voters as Democrats, it is likely that the 36 percent of voters who are unaffiliated, lean more right than left. In Arapahoe County, where 38 percent of active registered voters are unaffiliated, registered Democrats exceed Republicans 33 percent to 27 percent. The numbers tell us that many of Arapahoe County’s unaffiliated voters probably lean left. Even so, that does not nearly explain Weiser’s victory.
Outgoing Republican Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ four years in office was marked by numerous awards for election security and integrity. After making sure that Colorado utilized and retained paper ballots for every statewide vote cast, he oversaw the first-ever statewide risk-limiting audit, where a sample of those paper ballots was compared to the electronic record of the vote recorded from it. It was based on the results of that audit that The Washington Post, not well-known for supporting Republicans, gave Williams high praise when it called Colorado, “The safest state to cast a vote.”
Besides being safe, Colorado is one of the easiest places to register and vote. Voter registration is in the process of being fully connected to driver’s license renewal. During the four years that Williams has been secretary of state, 62 of the state’s 64 counties got 24-hour drop-boxes for voters to leave their ballots during election season. Voters still have the option of mailing ballots, and they’ll be delivered to the clerk of their county, with correct postage, insufficient postage, or no postage at all (counties make up the difference). For those few who still prefer to vote in person, that is also an available option.
Williams has made it so easy to register to vote that Colorado has the highest percentage of registered voters of any state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado had an 18-and-over population of 4,345,321 as of July 2017, the latest date for which data are available. There were 3,977,491 registered voters in Colorado on Election Day, a registration rate of an incredible 91.5 percent.
Democratic Secretary of State-Elect Jena Griswold, “worked as a voter protection attorney for President Obama and director of the Governors’ DC Office,” where she “helped bring back hundreds of millions of dollars of relief when the 2013 flood hit northern Colorado,” before opening a “small business—a legal practice—in Louisville.”
As with the AG race, there was no polling done in the contest for secretary of state. Virtually no one could come up with a reason why an informed voter would objectively see Griswold as being better equipped for the job than Williams. When the votes were counted, Griswold had received 155,930 more votes than the incumbent, a 6.5 percentage spread. Republicans were openly stunned. Very likely, so were the Democrats. Griswold’s spread of 53 percent over her opponent in Denver was huge, even exceeding her margin in Boulder of 49 percent. She won Arapahoe County by 15 points.
Rounding out the rout of the Republicans for statewide office was the defeat of real estate investment company CEO Brian Watson by a former math teacher, state Rep. Dave Young, a member of the all-important Joint Budget Committee of the legislature that creates the annual budget for our state.
Democrats also retained their majority in the Colorado house and unexpectedly gained the majority in the Colorado senate, taking complete control of state government.
18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler speaks to fellow Republicans after failing in his effort to become the state’s next attorney general.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |