Panorama: Election '08 Edition

November 5 2008, 12:16 PM

Mile-High Headlines for Wednesday, November 5 Sign up here to receive Panorama every weekday morning--before it's published on our website. Mr. Historic President-Elect John McCain's visit to Grand Junction yesterday didn't make a difference, as key states, including Colorado, fell solidly into Barack Obama's hands. Obama will be the 44th president of the United States come January. As the nation's first African-American president, he brings the dreams of the civil rights movement to fruition, a theme Senator McCain, flanked by running mate Sarah Palin, touched on in Arizona during his concession speech (video, via YouTube). McCain called Obama's election a rejection of the bigotry of the past and asked his supporters, some who booed, to "bridge our differences" with Democrats in order to make America "better and stronger." Obama then spoke to a massive crowd in Chicago, giving a toned-down speech meant to convey hope to the cynics who doubt America's promise and potential (video). Obama currently has 349 electoral votes to McCain's 147 (270 are needed to win), with a few states still uncounted, according to Yahoo's Political Dashboard. Obama took Colorado 52 to 45 percent, according to results tallied by The Denver Post. Vote Locally, Act Globally Last night, partying with fellow Democrats downtown, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper simply yelled, "Holy smoke!" (via the Rocky Mountain News). As another Rocky story puts it, "Not since 1936 has Colorado voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and allowed that party, led by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to control two U.S. Senate seats, the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives delegation, the Governor's Mansion and both houses of the state legislature." Barack Obama's "center-left majority" has left the conservatives "demoralized, disorganized, and arguably self-destructing," as this Atlantic blog notes, adding that America seems poised, for the first time in a generation, to take a bold leftward direction. If you're looking for reasons why John McCain was so soundly defeated, look no further than the 26 percent approval rating of the man long at the helm of the Republican Party, President George W. Bush, who did his best to stay out of sight during the election, writes The Associated Press (via The Guardian). And the world seems pleased about Obama, according The New York Times, which reports that many in the world think America "saw the errors of its ways over the past eight years and shifted course."

Colorado's Double-Dem Senate Smackdown On Tuesday, readers of the Rocky Mountain News received their paper with a plastic bag reading "Vote Freedom First: NRA Political Victory Fund: Bob Schaffer for U.S. Senate," as this Westword blog noted. But such last-ditch campaigning on behalf of the staunch God-guns-and-oil conservative was useless, as Congressman Mark Udall thrashed Schaffer in the battle for retiring Republican Wayne Allard's seat. Udall joins Ken Salazar in the Senate, making this the first time Colorado has had two Democratic senators since the mid-1970s, according to Boulder's Daily Camera. Udall has also bested the GOP's notorious spin-meister, Dick Wadhams, who ran Schaffer's campaign and "was as combative as ever" this election, "a quote machine in good times and bad," as the Rocky Mountain News notes. Wadhams is profiled in-depth this month by 5280 Senior Editor Luc Hatlestad, who also offers up some memorable Wadhams-isms and some insight (via podcast) on Wadhams' next move. National Republican groups paid more than $15 million in anti-Udall ads, and Dems responded with more than $10 million in ads attacking Schaffer, making Colorado's Senate battle the nation's most expensive, according to The Denver Post. Overall, Udall, along with his cousin Tom from New Mexico, helped Dems expand on a slim majority in the Senate, according to Bloomberg News. Markey Unseats Musgrave The race for Congress between newcomer Democrat Betsy Markey and incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave was, as The Colorado Independent puts it, "characterized by vicious attack ads, ethics complaints and an enormous fundraising haul by the candidates themselves and by special interests groups." In the end, Markey came out the big winner, defeating the ultraconservative Musgrave by 11 percentage points, according to results by The Denver Post. As 5280.com's Joshua Zaffos writes in "Feeling Blue in Larimer County," Markey "will be the first Democrat to represent the Fourth District since Wayne Aspinall in 1972, and anyone who knows Colorado history will recall Aspinall as a staunch conservative." According to Fort Collins Now, Musgrave was "swept up in a wave of Democratic victories nationwide..." In her victory speech, Markey spoke about the need to improve health care and the economy. Rounding Out the House Five of Colorado's seven representatives are Democratic, a major shift from recent years, although the races themselves, aside from Democrat Betsy Markey's defeat of incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave, were a predictable affair. The GOP's Mike Coffman, who was embroiled in controversy and legal action this election after purging voters from rolls as secretary of state, will replace fellow Republican, Congressman Tom Tancredo, in the south metro area's Sixth District. Coffman defeated Hank Eng, an engineer, with 60.4 percent of the vote, compared to Eng's 39.6 percent, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Jared Polis, who is openly gay, will replace U.S. Senator-elect Mark Udall in the Second District, which includes Boulder. Internet mogul Polis' own pockets were the deepest in the nation, as I noted in this piece for 5280.com. "Tonight, we turn the country around," Polis told a crowd in a four-minute speech at the Sheraton in Denver last night, according to Boulder's Daily Camera. John Salazar, a Manassa farmer and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar's brother, was reelected to the sprawling Third District, handily defeating Wayne Wolf, a Cedaredge rancher and two-term Delta County commissioner, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. Salazar tells the Chieftain that Dems are likely to revisit the GOP's aggressive and controversial oil-shale drilling policy, a development issue on the Western Slope, particularly as gas prices fall. Democratic incumbents Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, along with Republican Doug Lamborn, also held onto their seats. Kristi's Personhood Crusade Ends It was the most controversial item on Colorado's ballot: Amendment 48, which sought to define a fertilized human egg as a person. On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly defeated the measure, 72 percent to 27 percent, according to The Denver Post's results. As Newsweek noted just prior to Election Day, Kristi Burton, the young law student from Peyton who pushed the measure onto the ballot, wasn't able to count on even "her most natural allies--the country's major pro-life groups." Indeed, National Right to Life and Americans United for Life stayed away from the amendment out of fears that it would lead to a legal battle and, eventually, a possible strengthening of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. During the Democratic National Convention in August, the so-called "personhood" amendment added fuel to a milestone anniversary for anti-abortion protesters, as Bethany Kohoutek wrote in "Operation DNC" for 5280.com. The Amendment Crush Forget Joe the Plumber. Colorado had Joel "the firefighter" Heinemann, of Littleton, who appeared on television commercials in an effort to defeat amendments 47, 49, and 54. Last night, as Democrats celebrated downtown at the Sheraton Hotel, Heinemann told the Rocky Mountain News he thought it was "important to step up" to defeat the amendments, opposed by many labor groups. Although it appears Amendment 54, which will limit campaign contributions from government contractors, eked by, Heinemann got most of his wish. Both 47, the so-called "right to work" initiative, and 49, which will limit paycheck deductions to unions, were defeated, according to The Denver Post's results. ... Amendment 58, which would have reinstated an oil-and-gas severance tax, failed. An effort to eliminate Taxpayer's Bill of Rights refunds, Amendment 59, also failed. Amendment 50, which requires mountain towns with casinos to vote on whether to increase gambling bets up to $100, passed. Amendment 51, which sought to increase services to developmentally disabled people, was shot down by voters, as was Amendment 52, which aimed to create a tax fund for highways. Amendment 46, which will end affirmative action programs in government, appears to have passed by a narrow margin. The Story That Didn't Happen The election wasn't perfect for everyone. For example, as Westword notes, Spanish-speaking voters lacked help to interpret the ballot in Weld County, which claims a significant Latino population, many of them recent immigrants. And The Colorado Independent reports that law enforcement officers in Greeley "inappropriately" checked IDs at a polling place near the University of Northern Colorado. But such problems seemed isolated, and there was actually good news elsewhere. Voters in Douglas County, 9News reports, were pleasantly surprised by a lack of lines such as the ones that left voters frustrated and in some cases unable to vote in 2006. The election, Colorado's largest ever in terms of turnout, saw as many as 64 percent of voters get their business done before Election Day, according to 9News. Some 1.7 million Coloradans voted early, as compared to about 1 million in 2004. Clearing Out the Election Misinformation In their push to get into office, the campaigns certainly spread a lot of a misinformation, although a few journalists tried their best to clear up the confusion. Do we have to worry, for instance, that Democratic Congresswoman-elect Betsy Markey will be hauled to prison for her personal business dealings while working at U.S. Senator Ken Salazar's office, as incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave's campaign alleged in TV commercials? Probably not, according to CBS4's reality checker, Raj Chohan. What about President-elect Barack Obama's repeated claim that "more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America?" That was untrue, too, according to Washington Post Fact Checker Michael Dobbs. And as for Republican Rudy Giuliani, it seems he owes apologies to England after claiming that his chance of surviving prostate cancer there would be just 44 percent thanks to "socialized medicine" (versus 82 percent here). That's wrong, according to leading cancer experts, Dobbs writes. Winter Storm Almost as if the winds of political change have mysterious powers over the weather, Denver's Indian summer is over. It will be about 45 degrees today, and the city could get a light blanket of snow. That's according to 9News, which says a powerful winter storm is already in the process of dumping up to 16 inches of the white stuff on mountain towns. Chains are required for big trucks at the Eisenhower and Johnson Tunnels on I-70, as well as Loveland Pass on U.S. Highway 6. Broncos' Marshall Goes on "Soft" Diatribe Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter is "a prime candidate" for the National Football League's Defensive Player of the Year, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Porter also has a reputation for singling out opposing players he doesn't like. On Sunday, as the Dolphins defeated the Broncos, receiver Brandon Marshall was on the receiving end of Porter's abuse. Marshall, Porter said, is "soft," the kind of player who might "mope and cry." Marshall, preparing for the Broncos game versus the Browns on Thursday, went on the defensive yesterday, dishing out the insults. He said he's heard stories about Porter being in "nightclubs, dancing with his shirt off like a girl, or in the playground getting beat up back in California. He's one of those guys that no matter how big he is, he can still get knocked on his butt. He's soft." Billups: Not Today The Denver Nuggets' trade of Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb accomplishes the "main objectives this team had for both the present and the future," according to ESPN. Yes, Iverson is a legend, but Billups, who is no slouch himself, is the kind of point guard the Nuggets need. Billups isn't expected to play against Golden State tonight, according to The Denver Post. Instead, the former University of Colorado and George Washington High School star will practice with the team Thursday and probably debut on Friday night at the Pepsi Center against Dallas. As for Iverson, he might start at point guard for Detroit tonight in Toronto. Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $2.03, Western Convenience, 10515 South Parker Road (via www.gasbuddy.com). E-mail relevant articles to [email protected]