Colorado Democrats basked in the sun of political power and momentum during Thursday's annual state of the state speech by Governor Bill Ritter. Their ascent to almost total political power in Colorado in the last ten years is stunning by any account.
In 1998, the political power shoe was on the foot of Republicans. Bill Owens was in his first term as Colorado's first Republican governor in nearly 25 years. The "R's" held majorities in both state houses. Their where whispers that a Republican hegemony could rule Colorado fo 20 years. But then things began to slowly change for the "woe-be-gone" Democrats.
Their secret recipe: they found a message which resonated with the electorate (health care, green energy, strong education); they discovered a band of rich Democratic political billionaire underwriters (you know these names-Tim Gill,Patricia Stryker and Jared Polis); they enlisted the help of a sympathetic media; and they began an incremental plan of slowly grabbing legislative seats in competitive districts. They also had a bunch of help from an overly confident and somewhat obtuse Republican party who lost their governing compass.
Fast forward to January 10th, 2008. The Democrats have all the political and idea momentum in Colorado. You could just feel their collective energy, their confidence and smug dismissal of their now "wo-be-gone" Republican counterparts. They are the masters of the public agenda. Will they fumble the ball away as the Republicans did in the early 2000's? Time will tell. Its hard to imagine Team Democrat losing much ground in the future. And, Colorado voters may change their allegiance down the road again. But for now, they are the ones in the sun...