The 2018 Colorado Primary Election is finally over – even the GOP race for State Treasurer – so it’s time for us to run through our list of Winners and Losers. Let’s get to it…
This is an obvious takeaway from the Primary, but there’s more to it than just calling Polis a “Winner” because he won the Democratic nomination for Governor. Polis cruised to victory by a 20-point margin in what was expected to be a much-closer race. Perhaps more impressively, Polis should end up with in excess of 30,000 more total votes than Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton. That’s not a good sign for Colorado Republicans.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) as a fictional character.
You can make a compelling argument that Lamborn is the dimmest bulb in the entire Congress, but when it comes to winning Republican Primary elections, he’s a proven commodity in Colorado. Lamborn captured nearly 53% of the vote in what appeared to be shaping up as a difficult race, and he’s a lock to win re-election in the fall in an overwhelmingly-conservative CD-5. Various Republican factions have tried for years to squeeze Lamborn out of office; it might be time for potential challengers to concede that Lamborn is here until he decides otherwise.
The Boulder-area Democrat cruised to an expected victory in a CD-2 Primary, which means he will almost assuredly become the first African-American elected to a federal office from Colorado.
Dougherty had been among the Democrats seeking the nomination for Attorney General until Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett stepped down from his post in the spring. Dougherty left the AG’s race after being appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to serve the remainder of Garnett’s final year, and on Tuesday he was handily elected to a full four-year term as Boulder DA in an anticlimactic battle with state Rep. Mike Foote. It’s not often that a candidate for one major race is able to make a late change and still emerge victorious. Dougherty won’t likely be leaving the Boulder DA’s office anytime soon, but he will certainly have plenty of options in his political future.
The Democratic Primary for State Treasurer might have been the least-discussed race of the Colorado Primary season. Young always seemed to be the favorite over Democratic challenger Bernard Douthit, but the lack of interest in this campaign made it difficult to handicap. In the end, Young walked away with the nomination with 68% of the Democratic vote.
Less-Overtly Racist Republican Candidates
Two of the most outspokenly racist members of the Republican House caucus were handed their walking papers on Tuesday. In HD-47 (Southern Colorado), Rep. Judy Reyher lost a Republican Primary to Don Bendell. In HD-56 (Adams County), something called a Rod Bockenfeld positively destroyed incumbent Rep. Phil “Maybe Japanese Internment Camps Weren’t Bad” Covarrubias. Reyher and her Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat were responsible for many ridiculously-racist utterances, though there will always be a special place in our heart for her fantastical claim that she couldn’t be a racist because she once went to a wedding in China. Covarrubias was a general train wreck in his brief time in the legislature – earlier in the 2018 legislative session he also equated abortion with prostitution – and the Republican Party is certainly better off without him among its ranks. Perhaps Bendell and Bockenfeld will prove to be as bigoted as their predecessors, but at least they had the good sense to not talk about it so openly.
The 2018 race for Governor should be the most expensive statewide (non-federal) battle in Colorado history. That’s great news for people who sell advertising.
Mitt Romney’s Nephew
Doug Robinson faded from the Republican race for Governor in late May, but he kept his sense of humor and displayed admirable class throughout the campaign. Mitt’s Nephew had trouble making his own name for himself, though we’d posit that he’s well-positioned to make another run for office in the future. Colorado Republicans would be smart to find a place for Robinson (which means they probably won’t).
Honorable Mention: Lois Landgraf, Emily Sirota, Diane Mitsch Bush, Jason Crow, and Diana DeGette.
Things looked pretty good for Hill in late April when incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn appeared to have failed to make the ballot, but once Lamborn had squeezed his way into the Primary, Hill was in trouble. Hill would certainly have done better in a GOP field that did not include the longtime incumbent Republican, but his disappointing finish behind Lamborn and 2016 U.S. Senate nominee Darryl Glenn probably ends his future hopes of higher office. The Colorado Springs State Senator ended up being a complete non-factor in the race once voters started returning ballots.
The Lakewood City Council member known as “Shakti” – that’s her full legal name – was soundly defeated in a Democratic Primary for State Representative in HD-28. Kerry Tipper doubled-up Shakti’s vote total with a strong campaign and deserves plenty of credit here, but going by one name works much better for pop stars than for politicians.
In advance of Tuesday’s Primary we saw a rash of “fake polls” touting Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston, or Victor Mitchell as the great bearers of momentum in their respective races for Governor. This was all predictably silly, but the campaigns nevertheless managed to convince a handful of journalists and observers that there might be some merit to their madness. More news outlets should err on the side of caution and heed an Associated Press decision to stop promoting poll results that might even have some truth to them.
Colorado’s Lieutenant Governor pledged not to seek the top job in the state after being appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in early 2016. She should have listened to herself. Lynne’s campaign was a disaster from the very beginning; the bulk of her campaign staff jumped ship in early May; and Democratic debates exposed her as woefully unprepared for the spotlight. The best thing you can say about Lynne’s campaign is that she kept Mike Johnston from the ignominy of a last-place finish.
“The Magnificent Putz” hoped he would be the Republican nominee for Governor at this point, but that was before Brauchler completely imploded as a statewide candidate with even the slightest of hurdles in front of him. Brauchler is still relevant thanks to Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s decision to not get elected Governor, and he was really, really hoping that Joe Salazar would win the Democratic Primary for AG instead of Phil Weiser. Brauchler has demonstrated a baffling inability to raise money, which will be a serious problem in a General Election against Weiser’s insatiable fundraising.
Less-Honorable Mention: Walker Stapleton, Polly Lawrence, Levi Tillemann, and Victor Mitchell’s bank account.