FOX31 Election Day analysts: What Colorado should watch for

KDVR analysts

DENVER —  Fox31 Denver has complete election night coverage on the air and online featuring political perspectives and analysis from across the spectrum. Two of them offer a preview of what to watch for tonight.

Rob Witwer is a former Republican state representative from Evergreen and the co-author of “The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.” 

Pat Waak is the former chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party. Both will serve as FOX31 Denver political analysts on Election Day.

Below, Witwer explains what to watch for in state races tomorrow. Waak tackles a key issue in the Presidential race.

Local: Statehouse control on the line
By Rob Witwer
 asdfasdfasdfasa Federal: Will women decide the election?
By Pat Waak

With all of the attention focused on the presidential race, it’s easy to forget that this election will also decide control of both houses of the Colorado state legislature.

Governor Hickenlooper is not up for re-election this cycle, so key state legislative races will determine whether he still gets to work with at least one Republican chamber, or whether Democrats enjoy total control of the legislative and executive branches of Colorado state government.

In the state House, Republicans cling to a narrow 33-32 majority.  All 65 seats are up, but only a few are truly competitive.  It all boils down to a handful of close seats in suburban Colorado Springs and Denver, as well as two seats in Durango and Pueblo.

Democrats are feeling optimistic because they drew the legislative map in last year’s reapportionment process, and also because of the partisan dynamics of the Civil Unions debate in this year’s legislative session.  Republicans are hoping to overcome the legislative map and expand their majority with strong candidates and once-in-a-decade grassroots momentum.

On the Senate side, Democrats hold a 20-15 advantage.  While Republicans face a tougher path to a majority in this chamber, there is a roadmap.  To gain control, they must prevail in three of the four competitive races in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and south-central Colorado.

Democrats have gone back to the well once again with their winning formula: a network of well-funded and closely affiliated outside groups that focus intensely on targeted races.  Since 2004, this robust political infrastructure has helped Democrats outperform the political environment, maximizing opportunities in good years and minimizing losses in bad ones.

Republicans have taken note, and they hope that 2012 is the year they can break the code at the local level.  This year, conservative groups have had a strong presence in down-ballot races.

The big question in my mind is this: is the Democratic legislative machine still as finely-tuned and effective as ever, or is this the year that Republicans finally beat them at their own game?

We will find out Tuesday night.

 

Yes, Women Will Elect the Next President.

Women have always been active in elections. The arguments today are not much different than in past contests, but the stakes are much higher. As a result, we have seen a rise in voter registration among women.

My Republican colleagues will argue that if we are referring to social issues, economics will trump every other issue and give Republican candidates a victory. That includes Mitt Romney in his close race for the Presidency.

Women I have talked to, many who are not members of political parties or even active voters, have been galvanized during this election cycle by issues related to health care, reproductive choice, and economic equality. They see all issues as economic issues, not just social issues.

In the older generation, women were pointed towards the health care field as nurses, social workers, physical therapists, counselors, and later doctors. They all report frustrations with a health care system which has become dominated by the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies. Obamacare may not provide everything that is needed to curtail the abuses, but it is hailed as a start towards responsible control over the out of sight costs we expend every time we get ill or want to stay well.  That is an economic issue.

During the debate last year over women’s health, many women observed in shock when they watched the predominantly male Congress make decisions about reproductive health. Women consider Planned Parenthood a community service.  The average woman assumes some Federal funding for mammograms, cancer screenings, treatment of sexually transmitted disease, and birth control seems like a good use of those dollars. Just ask the woman who does your hair or checks you out at the grocery store. Those are economic issues.

As to reproductive rights, why not trust women and their families to make hard decision about problem pregnancies? We know that educated women have the ability to make moral choices. That is an economic issue also.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed by President Obama and is a major step to provide women with equal pay for equal work. Do you think we do not know that is an economic issue?

It has been our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our nieces and nephews who have been serving in the Armed Forces. We have watched them come home in an orderly fashion as President Obama winds down the wars. We are also watching what kind of services will be provided for their re-entry into society. Yet another economic issue that we will not forget is imbedded in this transition.

Joe Hanel’s October 8, 2012 article in the Durango Herald examines the Colorado Secretary of State’s statistics regarding newly registered voters. He finds a gender gap of interesting proportions. Female Democrats have a 17,000 vote advantage over female Republicans. I have talked with female Republicans who will not vote for the Republican ticket because their civil rights are not being respected.

Is the discontent with the proposals laid out by the Republicans enough to elect a President of the United States?  In 1920 the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. It may well be the difference for this election.

Polling shows this is a close race. Question: are women being sampled in an adequate percentage? Do we assume that only female Democrats care about their rights and what that means for the economy? Do we assume that Republican and unaffiliated women are not concerned about having the ability to be in control of their health and the work?

Like some of my other women political colleagues across the country, I will be paying attention to the analysis of  President Obama’s re-election results. While none of us expect that there will be any significant change in the Congress, unfortunately, we do expect that women in Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado will have stood up for their rights and played a major role in supporting the President.


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