The 2002 elections for the Colorado State House is a good bench mark for the 2004 elections to these posts. Elections are held for all 65 seats every two years. The district boundaries are identical to the boundaries in 2002. Many of the incumbents will be the same.
A review of the results is bad news for Democrats. There are 21 safe Democratic party seats (detail below), 14 seats are close, and 30 seats are safe Republican seats. Currently the close seats are split 50-50 resulting in a 37-28 seat Republican majority. A majority of the State House is 33 seats. In order to retake the House this year, the Democrats would need to win 12 of the 14 close races. It could happen, but it would take a significant sift in the political winds, otherwise known as major coattails from the Presidential election.
The results by District are here:
Colorado House Races (2002 results)
Unopposed Dem 1, 24, 34, 46
Very Safe Dem* 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 35
Safe Dem** 3, 12, 26, 32, 36, 41, 42, 62
Close Dem 9, 11, 18, 30, 47, 53, 56
Close Rep 23, 27, 29, 31, 51, 52, 64
Safe Rep** 17, 22, 28, 33, 37, 38, 39, 48, 57, 58, 60, 61
Very Safe Rep* 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 40, 44, 45, 54, 63, 65
Unopposed Rep 25, 43, 49, 50, 55, 59
* Very safe is 2/3rd of more of the vote.
** Safe is 10% more than the runner up.
And where are the close districts (with incumbent):
- Alice Borodkin (Denver and S. Suburbs)
- Jack Pommer (Boulder County)
- Michael Merrifield (Colorado Springs)
- Mary Hodge (Northern Denver Suburbs)
- Buffie McFadyen (Greater Pueblo)
- Angie Paccione (Greeley)
- Carl Miller (Vail)
- Ramey Johnson (Western Denver Suburbs)
- Bill Crane (Western Denver Suburbs)
- Bob Briggs (Western Denver Suburbs)
- Pam Rhodes (Northern Denver Surburbs)
- Timothy Fritz (Greeley)
- Bob McCluskey (Greeley)
- Brad Young (Rural Southern Colorado)
Greeley, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, the North Denver Suburbs and Rural Southern Colorado are all a mix of blue collar whites and Hispanics. The West and South Surburbs of Denver (in the districts in question), suburban Boulder, and Vail are RINO territory. The are full of white collar socially moderates, who are concerned about taxes and business friendly policies.
Given the disparity, the Democratic strategy in 2004 should be to run district by district, rather than on a statewide theme, and to fit candidates to their districts, while hoping for a strong Democratic Presidential candidate. An intense focus on the 14 close districts could produce a state house win, but only if each is nearly perfectly executed.
Capturing the State Senate (another story) which is split 18-17 will probably be a more realistic goal for Democrats in 2004.