2010 Colorado Midterm Election Results: U.S. Congressional Delegation Gets Redder But Avoids a Sweep

November 2010

Colorado Republicans joined in the party's takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, winning two out of three contested swing districts and defeating two Democratic incumbents in the state. In the 3rd Congressional District, Scott Tipton defeated Representative John Salazar (brother of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar), who was seeking his fourth term. Salazar crushed Tipton in the 2006 election, winning 62 percent of the vote, notes Steamboat Today, but he was unable to survive the backlash against the Dems this year, even though he had maintained a strong edge coming into the fall.

"Probably, Salazar had a false confidence in the 3rd Congressional District electorate. I think he thought his substantial victories in '06 and '08 and his sort of moderate voting record put him in good standing in what everyone considered a difficult year," Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli tells The Durango Herald. "But what he missed is that the definition of what is efficiently conservative shifted in this election and that just being a Democrat, even a Blue Dog Democrat, was a vulnerability."

Another incumbent Blue Dog suffered defeat in the 4th Congressional District, where Republican Cory Gardner unseated first-term Representative Betsy Markey. Gardner, a state representative from Yuma, reclaimed the congressional seat for Republicans, who had controlled the district for more than three decades before Markey's 2008 victory, points out 7News. The race consumed more than $5 million, reports the Loveland Connection, and Democratic-affiliated groups spent another $400,000 trying to build up third-party candidate Doug Aden to split the conservative vote. In the end, Markey seems to have suffered for ultimately supporting President Obama's health-care package.

But one incumbent Colorado Democrat did make a stand in a swing race. Representative Ed Perlmutter, of the 7th Congressional District, withstood a challenge from Republican Ryan Frazier and literally cartwheeled to victory (via The Denver Post). Frazier was one of 14 black Republicans running for Congress. Perlmutter will return to D.C. as part of a Democratic minority, which lost around 60 seats in the House.

In Colorado's other U.S. House races, incumbent Republicans Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, as well as incumbent Democrats Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, held onto their seats, as expected.