DENVER (KDVR) — The red wave did not materialize in Colorado.
In fact, Democrats here were actually able to come away with some seats that were held by Republicans who were already established at the state level.
Colorado GOP members took a hit this election cycle not only in Congress but at the state level, the party is facing an unprecedented challenge for the upcoming year.
“I think it’s very clear that Colorado is a blue state, statewide,” said Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown.
Colorado Republicans have given up on the concept of the state being purple, or a toss-up state.
This comes after they lost a competitive race for the state’s new congressional district.
“The Kirkmeyer loss was a big blow to Republicans because we felt like we could win that race because it was very competitive, a lot of money was coming in, and it was the kind of race that Republicans could at least point and say that ‘Hey, we have 4-4 going back to Congress.’ That didn’t happen,” said Republican strategist and FOX31 Political Analyst Michael Fields.
Add a tight race in the, usually, reliably red Western Slope and the southern portion of the state where Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is clinging to a narrow lead. Experts said Republicans need to reevaluate.
“Over the last few days, we’ve seen Republicans both in this state and nationally kind of doing some soul searching. You know, generally seeing this election as a disappointment for them. They’re trying to figure out who’s responsible for it, if there is a different path forward for them, who to blame, and they have been doing that over the past few days. Trump’s announcement kind of comes in the middle of that and I think in some ways, stops that conversation,” said Seth Masket, director of the center on American politics at the University of Denver.
In Colorado, candidates who distanced themselves from the former president like Joe O’Dea lost by double digits just like Trump-supportive candidates like Heidi Ganahl. Analysts said the Trump effect does not really matter at this point.
“If you have voters who aren’t even considering your candidates, it doesn’t matter if you have better candidates, it doesn’t matter if they distanced themselves from Trump or election conspiracies, etc. If no one is even entertaining voting for you — that’s the fundamental problem. So I think you are going to see conservatives and Republicans lean a lot more into local races,” Fields said.
“A lot of this has been driven by who sort of moves into and moves out of Colorado. Those directions could change in the coming years. We don’t know what the political environment will look like here in 2024 or in 2026. But for right now, it’s not a great state for Republicans to be running in except at the very local level in a number of counties,” Masket said.
This year, local races did not go the way Republicans hoped either. The party planned to pick up some seats in the state Senate but ended up losing some key races at the Capitol in counties like Weld and Douglas that usually lean Republican. Key Republican lawmakers like Colin Larson, Dan Woog and Rob Woodward are all losing tight races in the unofficial results. Analysts say Republicans are looking at a different path, likely ballot measures, to get their ideas out.
“I think you’re going to see more of a movement to go straight to the ballot to have conversations with voters because statewide electorally, it just doesn’t make sense right now,” said Fields.
The idea is that GOP priorities may get support from Coloradans if they stand alone on ballots.
Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol will face an uphill battle this upcoming session. They are set to only occupy 31 of the 100 seats in the General Assembly. Former Republican House Leader Hugh McKean did win his race to represent Loveland before his passing; a vacancy committee will have to fill.