Am I Blue?

As I write this, we here in Colorado’s Third Congressional District still don’t know who our congressional representative is going to be next year, making the unthinkable possible: Democrat Adam Frisch could beat Lauren Boebert.

Since the ballot counting commenced publicly, after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Mr. Frisch has held a lead. He spent much of Tuesday night up 52%-48%, but as yesterday ticked along that lead dwindled and dwindled until it got as low as 62 votes, with every expert and non-expert staring into the tea leaves, trying to divine where the outstanding votes are and which way they might lean. Military ballots are still allowed to be received, provided they are postmarked by Election Day, and people have maybe until Monday to cure ballots their counties have deemed insufficient, and a recount kicks in if the outcome is within .05% (or, if someone wants to pay for it, either candidate can request it regardless of outcome), so it seems likely that we could be waiting awhile to see if Mr. Frisch can pull off what seemed completely unlikely Tuesday at 6:59 p.m.

The latest census gave Colorado an eighth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and an independent commission set out to divvy up the state. The Third, which used to be pretty much Colorado’s western third plus Pueblo, now looks like a rumpled L with a hammer toe.

This was going to make us more Republican leaning, and when the commission was done conventional wisdom held that Colorado’s congressional delegation would consist of four Republicans and four Democrats. Instead we are going into January 5-2 with one seat still undecided. All statewide offices and the state legislature are in Democrat hands. As Colorado political analyst Shaun Boyd noted, we no longer can be considered a swing state — we are solidly blue.

As is Gunnison County. We’ve been that for awhile, but this election reaffirmed that, with county voters averaging about 65 percent for Dem candidates all the way down the ballot to our open county commissioner seat. That was our only contested local race — the incumbents were uncontested for clerk, treasurer, assessor and coroner, and our new sheriff, also running unopposed, is the son of the man who was our sheriff for 24 years.

Despite what the national media may have led you to think, however, liberals are still concerned about the economy and inflation. Coloradans gladly rolled back the state income tax rate .15%, and the City of Gunnison, where I am no longer a voter but think the city ought to get more creative in its thinking, a sales tax increase to maintain city streets failed.

The Gunnison School District did succeed in its bond effort — by 168 votes. This one may have struggled more than previous school bonds in part because of the economy, but I’m guessing some of the animus was because the primary beneficiary will be Crested Butte — entitled, rich Crested Butte — which is desperately in need of additional classroom space. Trying to explain Colorado’s arcane school financing, which at least in theory doesn’t give Crested Butte any more of an advantage than the poorest school in the state, in letters to the editor was a big ask, but it made an impression on the 168 voters it needed to.

[Of course, Dodger billionaire Mark Walter, perhaps one of the county’s biggest taxpayers after his commercial real estate spree last year, could negate the entire bond by donating one of his many purchases standing empty. There’s a great restaurant space in downtown Crested Butte sitting vacant — think of the cafeteria the kids could have! Or maybe, since the restaurant used to boast 100 beers on tap, he could donate it to be a new post office, so people could have beer and maybe some pizza as they wait for an hour for their packages because even with a new building you still need workers and the newest one quit after only three days — is it just me, or is this a sentence without end?]

On the national level, with nothing completely decided yet and still with the possibility of both congressional chambers running red, it’s nonetheless the Democrats claiming victory and the Republicans conducting the post-mortem of where they went wrong.

Some of that lies in letting young people vote, and I gather a few Republicans have already floated the idea of raising the voting age to 21 — although 50 might better help their case. Until they set out to act on their promise to eradicate Medicare and Social Security.

Some of it may come from what MSNBC’s political analyst Steve Kornacki noted on election night, “The only seats where Republicans are making gains right now is where the seats were drawn to give them gains.”

But some of it, I think — and the Wall Street Journal and New York Post are concluding today — has to come from the deal Republicans made with a devil back in 2016.

I ran into a longtime Gunnison Republican yesterday, one who had publicly endorsed the city’s failed sales tax increase and who seemed pleased that the school bond had passed. While noting he had voted for the most recent past president at least once, he also found plenty of breath to deride him as a narcissist and “asshole.” He got no argument from me.

At some point — maybe even before next week’s promised exciting announcement — the provocateur-in-chief may finally have to learn a lesson he touts all the time without ever believing it applies to himself: no one likes a loser.

When in the span of four years one loses the House, the White House (it’s true, election deniers), the Senate and now the “red wave” that was supposed to be rather automatic given the history of how American midterms go, there are going to be those who discover that “so much winning,” like the pot of gold, is always one shimmer beyond.

Of course he will not go gently into the night (here’s a good one I saw the other day: “Do not go gently into the midterms; Rage, rage against the lying Right”), and there is still plenty of mop-up to do with well over 100 election deniers put into positions that in some fashion oversee elections, but I’m having trouble imagining what value he can bring to the party when Ron DeSantis not only showed up with chips and salsa but the whole gol-darn roasting pig.

(Someone else yesterday did wonder why DeSantis was getting all this credit for making Florida in his own bigoted image when Gretchen Whitmer yanked Michigan solidly blue for the first time in 40 years. Perhaps because her presidential aspirations remain — for now — muted.)

And we’re still waiting — for a month at least — to see if Georgia will reward the man who has served them capably and with civility for two years, or if it kneels at the altar of football before a man with a once-upon-a-time-disqualifying string of fatherless children and abortions trailing in his wake.

There will still be gems of the New Republican Sphere such as Matt Gaetz, credibly accused of sex with a minor and known for all kinds of misogynistic, lewd behavior, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who seems to delight in putting her ignorance on display for all to see, like last month when she stood in front of a Union Civil War monument to celebrate her affinity for the Confederacy that should have died 1,000 deaths 157 years ago (another Loser).

But hopefully — maybe, just maybe — we here in Colorado’s Third Congressional will be part of the quest to take back our politics and make them less of a “circus,” which is Mr. Frisch’s stated reason for jumping into the race in the first place. Fingers crossed!

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