August 17, 2022
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CRONIN & LOEVY | And they’re off for Colorado politics’ ‘Double Crown’! | Opinion

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Tom Cronin & Bob Loevy


Political reporters have been criticized for covering election campaigns as if they were sporting events rather than serious contests for elective offices. Instead of writing about such things as candidate character, the major issues that need to be addressed, or long-range goals for the community, political reporters tend to cover election campaigns as if they were horse races. They primarily focus on who’s winning — who was ahead last week, who is ahead right now and who is predicted to win on Election Day.

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. Here is the Cronin-Loevy take on the current race between the Democrats and Republicans in Colorado to win control of the two houses of the state legislature: the state Senate and the state House of Representatives.

We’re going to report on the current legislative elections as if they were a horse race. Imagine the two of us speaking from a press box high above the racetrack at Churchill Downs, Pimlico, or Belmont.

Cronin: “Splendid day for a race, Bob. The Democratic ponies are all in blue and the Republican steeds in red. They’ve been running since at least March. The process began with political party precinct caucuses, followed by state Senate nominating assemblies and state House of Representatives nominating assemblies. Right now the horses are rounding the corner of the race track at the halfway pole.”

Loevy: “Yes, Tom, the halfway point in the state legislature race is when voting begins in the Democratic and Republican party primaries. The ballots for the state legislative primaries were mailed last week, and most Colorado voters have received them by now. This is a good point to take a look at how the legislative races are going.”

Cronin: “And there they go around the turn. The Democrats are leading 24 to 11 in the race for the 65-member state House of Representatives. Over on the state Senate side, the Democrats are leading there, too, at 15 Democrats certain-to-be-elected to only eight Republicans.”

Loevy: “The folks at home, Tom, probably want to know how we can handicap the race in this fashion. The answer lies in the recent redistricting of the Colorado state legislature following the 2020 U.S. Census. Seats in the legislature were divided into three categories — Safe Democratic, Safe Republican and Competitive Seats.

“If a candidate running in a Safe Democratic seat does not have a primary opponent, he or she is 90% certain to be elected in the general election in November. The same is true for Republicans running in Safe Republican seats. If there is no Republican primary, it is highly likely they’re going to win the voting in the general election in the fall.”

Cronin: “Yes, Bob, a Safe Democratic or Safe Republican seat means just that. The district lines have been drawn in such a way that the seat is ‘safely’ won every time by the particular political party.”

Loevy: “What’s your theory as to why the Democrats are leading the Republicans at this halfway point in the race?”

Cronin: “One reason is the redistricting process gerrymandered the state legislative district lines in favor of the Democrats. In the House of Representatives, 30 Safe Democratic seats were created to only 19 Safe Republican. In the state Senate, it was 15 safe seats for the Democrats and just nine for the Republicans.”

Loevy: “Another reason, Tom, is that the Republicans are holding more primaries than the Democrats are. We can’t count those Safe Republican seats until the primary votes have been tabulated on June 28. By our count, the Republicans are holding 15 primaries for the state legislature while the Democrats are having only 7. As soon as the results of the Democratic and Republican primaries are known, we expect the Republican score to improve a bit.”

Cronin: “As this herd of political horses runs by us, Bob, do you see any ‘back-in-the-pack’ horses who could come from behind and make a strong showing when they hit the finish line on Election Day in November?”

Loevy: “Yes, I do. Those horses are running for Competitive Seats. Based on past election results, these are seats in the state Senate and the state House that are equally balanced between the two parties and could vote Democratic or Republican on Election Day. That means we have to wait until the general election in November to see how well these Competitive horses can run down the stretch and go under the wire.”

“There are 16 of these Competitive Seats in the state House. If the Republicans can win 14 of them, they will have a 33-seat majority in the state House of Representatives. And, by the same token, there are 11 Competitive Seats in the state Senate. If the Republicans can win nine of those, they will have an 18-seat majority in the state Senate.”

Cronin: “Sounds good, Bob, but I believe it is unlikely that the Republicans can win 14 Competitive Seats in the State House and nine Competitive Seats in the state Senate this coming November. Former GOP President Donald Trump is trying to influence this election, and Colorado is not a Trump state, except in rural Colorado, which is a shrinking portion of the state. The Republicans probably will not win enough of those Competitive Seats to win control of both houses of the state legislature.”

Loevy: “I think they might, and you think they won’t. That’s what makes horse races. It’s important to keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of this horse race is to win the Double Crown. The Republicans and the Democrats are running hard to win majority control of both the state Senate and the state House of Representatives.”

Cronin: “So that’s the situation right now. The Democrats are ahead of the Republicans in the state House race by 24 to 11. The Dems are also leading in the state Senate race by 15 to 8. Both of us want to encourage unaffiliated voters, who are a plurality in Colorado, to vote in the primary election of their choice. You will not lose your unaffiliated status by voting in a party primary, and you can choose whichever party primary you prefer.”

Loevy: “Some observers are concerned that there are so few primary elections to vote in at this time. The Democrats in particular have very few primaries on the mail-in ballot. The worry is that, with only one or two offices to vote for in the primary, voters will understandably be inclined to not bother to mail back their ballots.”

Cronin: “Not mailing back your mail-in ballot is a bad habit to get in to. It is the modern form of non-voting. We urge all voters to mark and mail back their primary ballots.”

Loevy: “Before we go, we want to thank the 209 men and women who made the effort and took the trouble to run for just 65 seats in the State House and 17 seats in the state Senate (82 total). Election races produce more losers than winners, but the system doesn’t work if good people are not willing to take the risk of running for elected offices and losing. Our final thought, to winners and losers alike, is: ‘Thank you for running.’”

Cronin: “Yes. Hooray for everyone — winners and losers alike — who have had the courage and stamina to stand for election. They give us choices and help us to think about important policy challenges.”

Tom Cronin and Bob Loevy have written a guide to the 2022 state legislative elections in Colorado. It covers all 65 state House races and the 17 state Senate races. It shows the effect of redistricting (Safe Democratic, Safe Republican, Competitive Seats) on each legislative district. Search the Internet for “Bob Loevy home page” then click on A-6.



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