January 10 2005, 6:00 AM
The new, Democratic-controlled state legislature will convene Wednesday, and the Grand Junction Sentinel has a good preview. It looks like the new majority will first tackle the ongoing state budget crisis, and also cultivate their growing support in rural Colorado with a "basin of origin protection" water bill. What we should not expect from the new majority is a focus on cultural hot button issues like the Pledge of Allegiance or a "bill of rights" for conservative college students -- both of which were the subject of much effort in the last session. So everybody knows what the Democrats' game plan will be. But what will the new Republican minority do? Democrats say they want to work with the GOP, and for some things (like budget fixes that may require tinkering with the state constitution) they will need Republican help. Will the Republicans go into obstruction mode, which could enhance the do-nothing image that hurt them in the 2004 election and could cause even further losses in the next election, or will they work with the Democrats and risk making people comfortable with Democrats as the party of government in this state? This is certainly a new and uncomfortable dilemma for Republicans, and how they react to their stunning 2004 losses will go a long way toward determining whether this year's election signals a long-term Democratic comeback in Colorado.