Sabato's Crystal Ball

Colorado Races

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Colorado (03)

Outlook: Solid Democratic


November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. John Salazar (D) won reelection over Scott Tipton(R) with 61% of the vote.

Update:

Rep. John Salazar has proven a strong fundraiser to date and continues to outpace his likely November rival, GOP official Scott Tipton, in the money chase. Even though Bush carried this district handily in 2004, some Republicans have grumbled about a slow start to Tipton’s campaign, and as a result it’s likely that this race has fallen down on both parties’ lists of priority contests somewhat. Though we still expect a competitive race here on the Western Slope, Salazar could well earn a lopsided margin for a second term, and we’ve taken this race out of the Dirty Thirty.


February 2006 Outlook:

The brothers Salazar were two of the few Democrats with reason to celebrate the results of the 2004 election, as Ken Salazar was elected to the Senate and John Salazar was elected to the House from this sprawling western Colorado district.

More recently, area Republicans have grumbled (only half-convincingly) that some voters were confused as to which Salazar they were voting for here in 2004, and they have vowed to take back this GOP-leaning district. Regional GOP Chair Scott Tipton looks to be the Republican nominee, but lags behind the incumbent Democrat in the money chase, holding only about a quarter of his target’s cash on hand. The early edge goes to Salazar (John, that is).

Candidates

John Salazar (I) – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,939,487.51 | Total Spent: $1,645,475.47
Website

Scott Tipton – Republican – Total Raised: $529,945.92 | Total Spent: $704,360.63
Website

Colorado (04)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) won reelction over Angie Paccione (D) with 46% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Angie Paccione (D) will unseat Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R). Musgrave has never performed as well as a Republican should in this district, and her staunch conservatism is probably the reason. Paccione has held her own in debates against Musgrave, berating her opponent’s focus on a federal marriage amendment, and if there’s any district the news of Pastor Haggard’s hypocrisy could affect, it’s this one. In this toxic year for Colorado Republicans, we think Paccione may well have the last-minute momentum to carry her across the finish line for the upset. But our sources tell us it’s tight as a tick, and we could easily be proven wrong.

July 13, 2006 Update:

There’s been no shortage of campaign drama in this northern Colorado district as of late. Fiery GOP Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s office was the recipient of an especially unwelcome doorstep present last month: one anti-Musgrave activist (not affiliated with Democratic challenger state Rep. Angie Paccione’s campaign) left an envelope of dog feces in the office’s foyer. As much we’re tempted to place this race back into the Dirty Thirty in light of that episode alone, we’ll need to see some stronger fundraising numbers from Paccione before we believe this will be one of the top races to watch for a second cycle in a row.

Paccione is hoping that a fundraising visit this week by famous Florida widower Michael Schiavo will help close the money gap here, and we’re sure this district’s residents will be treated to plenty of escalated rhetoric here in the coming months as a consequence: Musgrave is one of the strongest social conservatives in the House.


February 2006 Outlook:

Two-term Rep. Marilyn Musgrave expected her incumbency to increase her initial 2002 winning percentage in 2004, but instead saw her margin cut in half in her rematch last year against veteran state Sen. Stan Matsunaka. Following her narrower-than-expected 51 to 45 percent win, Democrats smell blood in the water and may target this district once again in 2006.

Although this northern Colorado district’s politics are decidedly in her favor, the conservative Musgrave’s heavy focus on hot-button social issues in Congress has made her a favorite punching bag for Colorado Democrats, and this time around, she will be facing a different challenger. Democratic state Rep. Angie Paccione has announced her interntion to run against Musgrave, but for now, Musgrave still holds an advantage.

Candidates

Marilyn Musgrave (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $2,943,625.36 | Total Spent: $3,105,785.11
Website

Angie Paccione – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,540,080.39 | Total Spent: $1,314,607.61
Website

Eric Eidsness – Independent – Total Raised: N/A | Total Spent: N/A
Website

Colorado (05) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Leans Republican


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.

November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Doug Lamborn (R) defeated Jay Fawcett (D) with 59% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Doug Lamborn (R) will defeat Jay Fawcett (D). Could the Haggard scandal depress fundamentalist evangelical turnout in its home base? It’s possible, but we believe Fawcett’s insurgency scared the GOP here into action in time for Election Day, and we would be very surprised to see this 66 percent GOP seat fall the way of the Democrats, though we know retiring Rep. Joel Hefley would not be all too disappointed to see it happen.


Candidates

Jay Fawcett – Democrat – Total Raised: $406,103.93 | Total Spent: $407,980.16
Website

Doug Lamborn – Republican – Total Raised: $681,078.25 | Total Spent: $702,024.18
Website

Colorado (06)

Outlook: Likely Republican


November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) won reelection over Bill Winter (D) with 59% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) will win reelection over Bill Winter (D). The rest of the nation has trouble understanding why this exurban Colorado district sends hardcore anti-immigration leader Tancredo to Washington every two years, but he remains popular at home. It’s a rough year for Colorado Republicans, and the Haggard scandal may depress GOP turnout slightly, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Tancredo’s percentage fall to the mid-50’s.


Candidates

Tom Tancredo (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $1,548,951.10 | Total Spent: $1,379,599.41

Bill Winter – Democrat – Total Raised: $687,809.71 | Total Spent: $665,159.66

Colorado (07) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Likely Democratic


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Ed Perlmutter (D) defeated Rick O’Donnell (R) with 55% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Ed Perlmutter (D) will defeat Rick O’Donnell (R). Democrats did a very good job at putting this district away early by painting O’Donnell as a far-out ideologue who once proposed doing away with Social Security. It’s likely that Perlmutter will prevail by more than a few points in what was originally supposed to be a tooth and nail fight to the finish.

August 9, 2006 Update:

In the end, the noisy primary fight between think tank executive Peggy Lamm and State Sen. Ed Perlmutter turned out to be somewhat of a rout at the polls. Perlmutter dominated Lamm by double-digits, and will have the next three months to consolidate support in his campaign against the anointed GOP nominee, Rick O’Donnell. The size of Perlmutter’s win indicates some good momentum, and while we are not ready to tag him the outright front-runner, we do give him the slightest of edges to pick up this swing district for the Democrats on Election Day.

June 29, 2006 Update:

Given the national political environment, this swing-district open seat has seemed ripe for Democrats’ picking since the start of the 2006 cycle. Still, the real fear here for Democrats is the fractious nomination battle between think tank executive Peggy Lamm and State Sen. Ed Perlmutter. Although Perlmutter banked twice Lamm’s total at the end of the first quarter, EMILY’s List and several other groups have committed to going to bat for Lamm, whose politically advantageous name has without a doubt given her assist in Colorado’s Democratic circles.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is GOP former state higher education official Rick O’Donnell, who has his party’s nomination all to himself and will have a full warchest from which to spend freely after Democrats select a nominee on August 8th. Democrats’ chances of a takeover here depend in large part on their eventual candidate’s ability to replenish campaign coffers and go on the offensive against O’Donnell quickly.


February 2006 Outlook:

Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez was the winner of the nation’s closest House race for a 2002 open seat, and he expanded his margin significantly in 2004. Now that he’s running for Colorado’s top executive job, this highly competitive seat–an extremely rare sight anywhere in the nation–in the northern Denver suburbs promises to host a very close contest in 2006.

With the exit of GOP Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall from the race, state education official Rick O’Donnell, seen as a rising Republican star, appears to have the GOP nomination all to himself. Across the aisle, Peggy Lamm (sister-in-law of former CO Gov. Richard Lamm) and State Sen. Ed Perlmutter comprise the Democratic field, with Perlmutter receiving the lion’s share of establishment support thus far. In this, one of the nation’s few “fair fight” districts created in the last round of redistricting, all signs point to a photo finish come November.

Candidates

Ed Perlmutter – Democrat – Total Raised: $2,328,386.23 | Total Spent: $2,065,618.29
Website

Rick O’Donnell – Republican – Total Raised: $2,495,586.13 | Total Spent: $2,213,599.50
Website