Today in the Denver Post from reporter Anna Staver, we have Colorado Senate Republicans, who make up the only nexus of majority power for the GOP in the state’s government since retaking the chamber by a single seat in 2014, making the case for continued majority control.
At least, that’s what they think they’re doing. To most readers, the Senate GOP majority’s final appeal says something else entirely between the lines:
“All you have to do is look at what the House passed over the last four years, and what we killed in the Senate,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City. “There will not be any backstop anymore.”
Grantham has presided over Republicans’ one-seat majority in the state Senate since 2016 — two years after the GOP flipped control of the 35-member chamber and ended the last Democratic trifecta.
He has kept a list of 33 bills passed by the Democratic House since 2016 that died in the Republican-controlled Senate. It includes paid parental leave, paid sick leave, funding for full-day kindergarten, ending the death penalty, setbacks for oil and gas drilling, permissions for law enforcement to remove weapons from people in the midst of mental health crises — the red-flag bill — and several bills aimed at addressing the lack of affordable housing.
With the possible exception of the repeal of the death penalty, the items listed here as “victories” by Senate President Kevin Grantham after the GOP Senate majority killed them could be reasonably considered defeats for a majority of voters–to the point where Democrats would probably use a very similar list to condemn Republican obstruction. And it’s not just a partisan divide, since public polling on these issues consistently shows strong bipartisan public support. A May 2018 Keating Research poll found support in Colorado for a “red flag” law at an overwhelming 81%. Paid family leave polls over 70% in national polls, and paid sick leave at 85%.
We could go on, but the point is clear. Republicans take pride in obstructing a long list of agenda items that are not just Democratic, but things the public wants accomplished without partisan distinction. This is what happens when a cloistered majority becomes more focused on internal consensus than on what the voters actually want done. The numbers don’t lie, and Republicans have barreled ahead in seeming defiance of public opinion.
In 2012, Republicans holding a one-seat majority in the Colorado House chose to make a defiant stand against civil unions legislation for LGBT couples at session’s end, capping off a two-year Republican majority similarly obsessed with obstruction and distasteful wedge-issue politics. That November, Republicans paid for their misguided agenda by losing their majority in a landslide.
Six years later, a remarkably similar situation is unfolding.