Election Day 2010 will test Democrats' success with 'Colorado model'
Colorado has played a key role in the narrative of the Obama administration and its political strategy. The Democrats' networked system of sharing campaign resources will be tested Tuesday on Election Day 2010.
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Democrats hope to close the gap with a formidable ground game that includes both party efforts and a strong assist from unions and progressive outside groups. With frustration against government running so high, union organizers have had to focus on rebuilding enthusiasm among their own members this cycle, as well as the larger voting public.Skip to next paragraph
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“We need to make sure our members don’t forget how bad it was [in Republican administrations], no matter how frustrated they are,” said Trish Gilbert, secretary-treasurer of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association at a get-out-the-vote rally sponsored by Colorado AFL-CIO on Saturday.
The AFL-CIO’s grass-roots Labor 2010 program is targeting 70 House races, 18 Senate races, and more than 300 state legislative races in 26 states. In Colorado, AFL-CIO volunteers say they will have contacted 189,000 targeted union members and their families by Nov. 2.
The tea party wave and the millions of dollars that outside conservative groups are pouring into Colorado races are a special challenge this cycle, union organizers say. “Members at worksites can provide a counterweight to the message bombs that outside, far-right groups are putting out there,” says Phil Hayes, political and legislative director for Colorado AFL-CIO. “But we don’t have enough people in media presenting the facts.”
Hispanic groups such as Mi Familia Vota have been on the ground for months talking with “infrequent Latino voters” in Colorado, Texas, and Arizona in a bid to boost participation at the polls. In Denver, Spanish radio stations are fielding calls from voters who missed early voting and offering rides to the polls. “The pollsters will be surprised on Nov. 2,” says Zee Ferrufino, owner and CEO of the KBNO Spanish Radio Group. “Our people care about jobs. They’re disappointed with Obama, but at the same time they understand that he hasn’t had enough time.”
With so much spending by outside groups undisclosed in Campaign 2010, it’s not clear which party has the stronger ground game. “This is the first time we’ve had equilibrium with Democrats in outside spending,” says Dick Wadhams, Colorado State Republican Party chairman. “They’ve had the advantage for years, and unions are still the biggest spenders.”
Mr. Wadhams predicts that when the dust settles, Colorado will have delivered a “total rebuke” to the Obama administration, especially important because it comes from a state that the president so clearly valued. “Democrats have been touting Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West as blue. Now it’s going to be totally reversed,” he adds.