06 November 2008

Colorado Election Recap

Colorado Amendment 50 (gambling) passed, as did Amendment M and N (removing obsolete constitutional language).

Every other statewide measure on the ballot (including, with results available today, Amendment 46 repealing affirmative action in the state) failed, with the exception of Amendment 54 (campaign contributions by government contractors and unions). And, as explained below, Amendment 54 is likely to be found in whole, or in part, unconstitutional in litigation that is soon to unfold.

In sum, for all the sturm und drang of the initiative and referendum process this year, producing the longest Colorado ballot in almost a century, the actual policy changes that have resulted are remarkably modest.

Similarly, despite the fact that all 65 seats in the Colorado House were at stake in this election, only four changed political affiliation, with a net impact of two fewer seats for Democrats, and the net impact on the Colorado Senate appears to be that Democrats leave this election with the same number of seats that they had at the end of the last legislative session. [UPDATE: The Democrats appear on track to gain one seat in the Colorado Senate bringing them to 21 seats.]

Of the more than 100 judges who faced retention elections, as predicted and as usual, only one county court judge (whose evaluation recommended that she not be retained) received less than roughly two-thirds support (no judge appears to have received more than 80% support). In Colorado, a county court judge is a judge of a court of limited jurisdiction that handles misdemeanors and civil suits not involving title to real property with up to $15,000 at stake, in a single county.

The partisan majorities on the State Board of Education and C.U. Regents remained unchanged as well. There were likewise no notable upsets in District Attorney races (a primary battle ousted a controversial district attorney in El Paso County).

Certainly, there were big changes at the federal level. Colorado supported a Democratic Presidential candidate breaking a streak of GOP Presidential decisions, replaced a Republican U.S. Senator with a Democrat, and replaced a Republican member of Congress with a Democrat, as well as replacing a gadfly Republican Congressman with a moderate typical Republican. Colorado was clearly unhappy with the status quo at the federal government level.

But, there was surprisingly little change at the state government level.

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