The National Journal has picked up on a storyline we have been following closely for months here at Colorado Pols — how the combination of Tea Party vs. establishment fights, amplified in bellwether Jefferson County, may make it impossible for Republicans on the top of the ticket to win statewide races:
Even as Republicans nominated capable candidates at the top of the ticket, the down-ballot primary results are a stark illustration of how the party leaders in the state tasked with winning elections are at odds with a majority of their own voters. Democrats currently hold a tenuous one-seat advantage in the state Senate. But without enough moderate candidates in swing districts on the November ballot, the GOP will find taking over the upper chamber much more difficult.
"If we don't win [any key races] in 2014, we’re going the way of California,” [Mario] Nicolais said. "We could well become a permanent minority."…
…Yet below the surface is a nagging pessimism that underscores the stakes for Colorado Republicans in 2014. If the GOP's past problems stem from party divisions, a few lousy candidates, and persistently bad luck, then it's easy to see how the party can turn things around with stronger nominees. But if the party is losing touch with the state's changing electorate, all bets are off. The fact that Republicans feared that Tom Tancredo, who came within 3 points of winning the nomination, could have ruined everything for the statewide ticket, is testament to just how tenuous an advantage Republicans hold.
Back in March, we noted that the Republican Party in Jefferson County was imploding under competing Tea Party/Moderate/RMGO factions. That examination was verified again last week when Tea Party Republicans won key GOP Primary races in SD-19 (Laura
Waters Woods over Lang Sias) and SD-22 (Tony Sanchez over Mario Nicholais). Coupled with the angry undercurrent from education-minded voters around the shenanigans associated with the Jefferson County School Board, Jeffco Republicans have placed so many land mines around the county that top-ticket candidates such as Rep. Cory Gardner and Gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez may find it impossible to side step entirely.
All Colorado politicos know that you can't win a competitive statewide race if you lose in Jefferson County, and the combination of poor Republican candidates (which both repel voters and weaken potential help from Republican supporters) and a divisive Republican school board could have the cumulative effect of dropping overall support for a Republican ticket. That support doesn't need to fall far; a drop of just 1-2% could be politically fatal for Gardner and Beauprez, among others.
It's quite possible that the Primary victories of Laura
Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez may cripple GOP hopes at taking control of the State Senate…but Republican efforts to defeat Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate have been dealt quite a blow as well.