The Weekly Standard: Fear the Colorado Model

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The neo-conservative Weekly Standard published a piece by Fred Barnes this week entitled “The Colorado Model: The Democrats Plan for turning red states blue.” It’s essentially a woe-is-us exploration of the transformation of Colorado politics from 2004.

But in the last two election cycles–2004 and 2006–they’ve routed Republicans, capturing the governorship, both houses of the state legislature, a U.S. Senate seat, and two U.S. House seats. Democrats are on a roll, and that’s not likely to change this year. Republicans are demoralized, disorganized, and more focused on averting further losses in 2008 than on staging a comeback.

I don’t think anyone who lives in Colorado and follows state politics will learn anything new in the article and for the most part it is uncontroversial. It is interesting though to watch the white-wash that Barnes attempts. By reading his article you would assume that Colorado Republicans had no infrastructure at all and couldn’t possibly compete with the the state Democratic Party. For example while dileanating the components of this infrastructure Barnes writes,

And there’s a school to train new liberal leaders, the Center for Progressive Leadership Colorado, as well as new media outlets with bloggers and online news and gossip, including and

There’s nothing outright false in there but Barnes attempts to deceive by omission. What about the right-wing “Leadership Program of the Rockies“? That is a 20 year old program. As to media outlets, a couple of blogs hardly stacks up to the complete domination of Colorado’s radio airwaves (until Air America in the last couple of years) by right-wing blowhards like Caplis & Silverman, Gunny Bob and Peter Boyles. Hell Jon Caldera has a weekly television show on PBS in addition to his radio show.

Barnes does note that the Independence Institute had a 14 year head start on the liberal think tanks but he spends no time grappling with the obvious question, how did an organization with a 14 year head start get surpassed by young upstarts? Could it be the content of their ideas? Could it be prevailing attitudes in the state were shifting away from the hard-right ideology of the Independence Institute? These are all relevant questions that could really enlighten the reader as to what is actually happening in Colorado.

Likewise Barnes makes no mention of the effect of changing demographics on the state of Colorado. In their post-2004 election book “The Emerging Democratic Majority” authors John Judis and Ruy Teixeira spent considerable time looking at demographic trends across the nation to predict the “dawning of a new progressive majority.” Why no mention of these demographic trends from Barnes? Why not discuss the quality of the GOPs candidates and campaigns since 2004? Why no discussion of what policy proposals seemed to work and which drove independents away?

Like I said, there is nothing that is overtly dishonest in Barnes piece it’s more a subtle dishonesty, achieved by convenient omission.

I do want to highlight a quote from former state Senator and current Denver Post columnist and blogger John Andrews,

“I’m not sure our party has learned the lessons it needed to learn. Republicans and conservatives missed our moment to be the next wave of the Reagan revolution at the state level. We didn’t seize the center, and we didn’t seize the imagination of Colorado voters.”

That is rich. John Andrews commenting about the GOP free-fall from grace in the last 4 years as though he is nothing more than an uninterested observer. John Andrews lamenting that Republicans did not “seize the center.” I suppose if you didn’t know any better you’d probably think that Andrews sounds like a reasonable man giving solid advice to his party about winning over moderates. Of course, we all know better.

cross-posted at Steam Powered Opinions…

13 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Arvadonian says:

    On the contrary…they ran them out.  

    Ask Ramey Johnson…I wonder if she’s supporting Bab Schaffer’s campaign.

    I just hope that my own party has learned this lesson when Salazar runs again in 2010.  You alienate the center at your own peril.

  2. bmenezes says:

    He’s a notorious purveyor of factually inaccurate statements and other misinformation, and the “Colorado Model” article apparently was no exception. I guess the Weekly Standard doesn’t bother with fact checking on his pieces.

    Read on:


  3. DavidThi808 says:

    …a bunch of excuses for the fact that even with more resources on the Republican side than on our side – they are still losing.

    It’s not that we Dems have more research groups, media sources, etc than the Republicans – it’s that we have less but with less we still kick their ass.

    Personally, I put it down to our being a lot better looking.

    • parsingreality says:

      Next theory?


    • BoulderDem says:

      actually it is my understanding that total spending (hard and soft) on campaigns in Colorado leans our way for 2004 and 2006. Not by a huge amount, but thanks to a ton of small donors — and above all Jared, Tim, Pat, and Rutt — we actually have outspent them.

    • Danny the Red (hair) says:

      the think tanks are an important development on the left.

      It gave the left tools to counter the right wing noise machine.

      The colorado model is just building the institutions the right has so we can back our ideas and letting the strength of our ideas and a willingness to compromise and explain to the center dominate.

      • BlueCat says:

        in canvassing during the elections of 2004 and 2006 it also became apparent that more and more Republican leaning independents and even many moderate Republicans really were no longer comfortable with a Republican party that had become the party of the far right. I heard that over and over.  People felt the Republican party had been body snatched.  There was a big group newly open to considering Democrats.

        Odd to hear Andrews complain about losing the center since he so perfectly represents the hard far right that Colorado voters have increasingly rejected in electing so many moderate Dems.  He’s also among those who have been claiming that the Republican party is being deserted only because it has abandoned strict conservative principles, which would hardly lead to voting for moderate Dems instead, if true.  The Colorado right either just doesn’t get it or can’t handle it.  

  4. Kevin Jones says:

    “The money would come from rich liberal donors in the state and would be spent primarily on defeating Senate candidate Bob Schaffer ($5.1 million) and Representative Marilyn Musgrave ($2.6 million), who are loathed by liberals for sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.”

    The Weekly Standard probably recognizes that many liberals also disapprove of the crackpot idea that is same-sex marriage, but chooses to lump the radicals in with them. This is a petty tactic that inadvertently shifts the terms of debate by making the crackpot millionaires look more mainstream than they really are.

  5. donnatella says:

    He’s so full of it.

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