For all the vitriol and divisiveness between the Republican and Democratic national campaigns, the 2012 election will be remembered as an election of no change. President Obama handily won the Electoral College vote, the U.S. Senate will remain in control of the Democrats, and the U.S. House of Representatives will remain Republican controlled. The political divide in Washington, D.C. rolls on.
On the Western Slope, it was no surprise that Montrose County remained a Republican stronghold in Colorado and voted overwhelmingly in favor of Mitt Romney. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the same can be said for San Miguel County, which remained deeply blue when residents there overwhelmingly supported Obama. Caught in the middle of these two counties is Ouray County, which was deemed a swing county once again. By a narrow margin, residents in Ouray County supported Obama’s re-election. In future presidential elections, will Ouray County and its 3,317 votes, become an indicator as to who will win on the national stage? As Ouray County goes, so goes the country?
Perhaps a final question this year’s national election leaves us with is whether Colorado is truly a swing state. After going blue in 2008 and once again in 2012, perhaps Colorado is no longer swinging?
With most of the Third Congressional District occupying traditionally conservative areas in western Colorado, Sal Pace’s run to take the incumbent Scott Tipton’s seat was an uphill battle from the start.
Apart from voters in San Miguel County, where the Republican label wins few votes, Democratic challenger Tammy Theis was a candidate voters in the district had a hard time supporting. Besides entering into the race late, after Greg Thornton withdrew from the race, Theis had a rocky start to her campaign amidst shoplifting allegations. Coram, the incumbent, was also polarizing, casting a vote in the midst of the campaign that killed a same sex civil unions bill in Denver, apparently voting against the interests of his own son, who is gay.
Since last year’s reapportionment, which moved Ouray County into District 59, it’s been a question whether Republican J. Paul Brown would be able to hold his seat. With Ouray County and the traditionally blue-leaning city of Durango together in the district, it was too much for Brown to hold.
Colorado voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 64, which legalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana and allows for the taxation of marijuana sales. Governor John Hickenlooper campaigned against the measure, saying it would be a detriment to the state. For now, Colorado is one of a few states to pass such an initiative.
After a failed recall attempt in 2011 and a close Republican primary election this year, Democrats hoped the political divide in Montrose County narrowed enough for either David White or Ron Henderson to be unseated this election. While challengers Juli Messenger and Kjersten Davis came close, they fell short in a stalwart Republican county.
West End School District officials must now go back to the drawing board to figure out how the district should move forward in making much-needed repairs after this ballot issue, which would have leveraged a state grant to build a new PK-12 school in Nucla, failed. With failing infrastructure and fire code issues, one has to wonder how long students will be able to attend schools in the district before buildings are condemned.
Don Batchelder, a moderate Republican, is once again a Ouray County Commissioner (this will be his third, non-consecutive term) after he beat his unaffiliated challenger and former Ridgway Mayor Pat Willits by a very narrow margin. Willits is currently sitting on the BOCC, having been appointed by Gov. Hickenlooper after Heidi Albritton’s resigned earlier this year.