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February 19, 2010 11:59 pm MST

Colorado Governor's Race Dropping Off Watch Lists

  • by: Colorado Pols

The regular nationwide “Governor’s Line” from Washington Post blog “The Fix” is out today, and the big news is no news: Colorado is no longer listed as one of the 15 states where the Governor’s mansion is most likely to switch parties.

Why the change? Well, as we have written before, there are a couple of reasons:

1. Democrat John Hickenlooper is really popular. For whatever reason (we could name many reasons, but this isn’t the space for that), voters across Colorado really like the Denver Mayor. Elections are often popularity contests, because most voters do not educate themselves enough to know much of a difference between the candidates. It’s more important for voters to like you than to agree with you on policy. Look at the 2004 Presidential election: A lot of voters knew that George W. Bush had not done a very good job in his first term, but they just didn’t like Democrat John Kerry (and who could blame them?)

2. Republican Scott McInnis lost his best narrative for winning when Gov. Bill Ritter announced he would not run for re-election. Incumbents are not polling well nationwide, and it’s a lot easier to compare yourself to the guy in office now. McInnis’ entire strategy rested on trying to convince voters that Ritter had wrecked the economy, and so they should give McInnis a shot instead. That’s why GOP State Chair Dick Wadhams is trying so hard to get the silly “Hickenritter” nickname to stick on Hickenlooper — they desperately need those voters who aren’t happy with Ritter.

3. Hickenlooper is naturally better suited to the image that McInnis wants (and needs) to carve out for himself. McInnis wants to portray himself as the “business friendly/job creation” candidate. Unfortunately, Hickenlooper is already better at that. McInnis can talk about building business and growing jobs, but Hickenlooper has actually done it in the private sector. Repeatedly.


4. An incredible 37 Governors are up for re-election in 2010, including 22 that are open seats. Hick is going to raise as much (and likely more) money than McInnis, and given all the points above, it’s hard to see how McInnis is going to convince big national GOP interests that his race is worthy of top-tier consideration. You really can’t look at the other 21 open seats and say that McInnis has a better shot than most of them. And that opinion is starting to take hold even in his own backyard.

McInnis may still win the race for Governor, but it’s hard for any objective observer to envision a likely scenario where that would happen.


27 thoughts on “Colorado Governor’s Race Dropping Off Watch Lists

      1. is complete failure. He has a perfect environment for winning several federal and state elections but the the guy is still dealing in Bush era politics – FAIL.

        Remind me again why he’s the first ever paid chair of the Colorado Republican party. Anything over a buck is too much for what he’s produced.  

  1. Way too early to make any predictions on this one. Neither Hick nor McInnis ever has run a difficult partisan race. My bet is that both screw up big at some point.

      1. What difficult partisan race has McInnis ever run? (Answer: None.) He hasn’t even had a tough primary. His thin skin has never been poked in a campaign.

        What difficult partisan race has Hick ever run? (Answer: None.) He has only run a Demo vs. Demo race in a Demo city, and he won it in part by specifically appealing to Republicans. He has never had to prove his bona-fides to his base.

        Neither guy ever has had to make snap decisions while being buffeted by outside groups in a tight race. It’s a whole different kind of pressure, and people react in very different ways the first time they’re subjected to it (Read: Romanoff).

        You’re giving McInnis and Hick credit for much more campaign experience than they actually have.

          1. Hick did run a great mayoral campaign. Fact remains, though, that he has never run against mean people who will scorch the earth just to win. This race will be his first of that kind.  

        1. McInnis won his first legislative race by about 15 votes.

          And his first Congressional race was a competitive one against Lt. Gov. Mike Callahan.

        2. McInnis’ first race was partisan and in a swing district that had gone from Mike Strang to Ray Kogovsek (D) to Mike Strang (R)to Ben Campbell D (when he won it) to McInnis, R.  what part of winning a difficult partisan race don’t you understand.

            As for Denver, it may not have been “partisan” officially, but if you dont think the parties play a role, you live in Saskatoon.  His race was a classic.  

          1. Frank Evans had it before Kogo (not Mike Strang, as you wrote). But you’re right, it has always been a difficult district to win and is always up for grabs when there’s an opening.

            1. Evans had it and Kogo won a real squeaker against Harold McCormick.  Then Strang had it for a term before losing it to Campbell.  It’s a great swing district.

          2. You claim that Callihan vs. McInnis was a “difficult partisan race?” Hard to believe. It’s correct that Callihan was lt gov., but he was almost completely disinherited by his gov. Roy Romer, who did nothing to help Callihan and thus scared off almost all Democratic help in that race. This election was McInnis in a cakewalk.

            As for Hick’s race in Denver being “a classic,” please name the moment when he was seriously challenged by anyone, whether at a debate, or, more importantly, by an unfair TV ad. That race was so soft that Hick emerged with no scars. Candidates who run against Dick Wadhams (i.e. this governor’s race) never emerge without scars.


            1. Callihan helped Scooter out by self-destructing. Up until then, it was a competitive race.

              Scooter has tremendous retail campaign skills. His problem is figuring out how to reach enough voters one-on-one by election day.

              Retail campaigning on the state legislative level is door-to-door, which is how he beat Kathleen Sullivan to win his first election by 12 votes. Retail also works in a congressional district, as Scooter showed for years.

              But statewide is nearly impossible. That’s his problem.

              Just please don’t say he’s never won a tough race.

            2. Iggie, find me one poll six months before the mayor’s race that had Hick in double digits.  Then, I’ll take you seriously.  Until then, I assume you just go on making up facts to cover your obvious lack of knowledge of the Denver political scene.  

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