Sabato's Crystal Ball

Colorado Senate 2004

Republican Pete Coors faces Democrat Ken Salazar

UVA Center for Politics October 22nd, 2004

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The race for Colorado’s open Senate seat, being vacated by republican Ben Campbell, pits Democrat Ken Salazar against Republican Pete Coors. Colorado is traditionally a Republican stronghold, but nothing could be farther from the truth this year. Most polls in the state show a close race, with the latest poll, compiled by Survey USA, having the race tied at 48 percent.

You might recognize the name Pete Coors. He is great-grandson of Adolph Coors, who started the Golden brewery in 1873. Needless to say, Mr. Coors has no problem with name recognition in Colorado. The Coors name appears on everything from beer cans in the local grocery store to the Colorado Rockies’s baseball stadium, Coors Field. Coors is running on a platform of traditional family values, tax reform, and a strong hand in the war on terror. While he believes we should not second-guess the president now that we know about the unlikelihood of weapons of mass destruction existing, he does believe the outcome of the vote that gave President Bush the authority to go to war would have been different. Coors is also vehemently opposed to gay marriage, however he has been criticized as a result of Coors beer sponsoring events like the Black and Blue 2004 Festival in Montreal, a weekend long gay-benefit. Coors tax plan is what one would expect from a businessman. He believes less taxes and regulation on small and large businesses will stimulate the economy and offset the jobs Colorado has lost in the past few years.

Ken Salazar, the current attorney general, grew up as a farmer. He criticizes his opponent for being a rubber-stamp for the Bush administration. Salazar cites his humble roots and his experience in dealing with security issues through meetings with President Bush and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge as the reason he is best qualified to serve as Colorado’s next Senator. His opponent, he argues, has no experience. Furthermore, Salazar says that Coors’s plan for tax reform would drives the nation farther into debt. On the issue of homosexuality, Salazar believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that a constitutional amendment is not necessary. Also, he favors the right of gay couples to adopt a child, something that Coors is opposed to.

Taxes and jobs, experience with security issues, and traditional family values seem to be the main issues in Colorado. Coors molds himself as a traditional conservative, while Salazar distances himself from Kerry and molds himself as a conservative democrat. This contest is a toss-up. If President Bush does well, Coors could ride his coattails for one or two percentage points. In a race this close, one or two points could easily decide who will be the next senator from Colorado.