The Changing Tone of Colorado Politics for 2011

January 3 2011, 3:00 PM

While there will surely be some contention surrounding the issue of immigration in the upcoming state legislative session, Colorado conservatives who once argued for Arizona-like reform are likely to be satisfied with something more like the status quo. "When you mention immigration, everybody gets a little twitchy," says Hot Sulphur Springs Republican state Representative Randy Baumgardner, who will introduce a bill that would require Colorado to enforce the immigration laws already on the books as opposed to enacting new ones (via the Grand Junction Sentinel). Colorado passed a measure in 2005 that requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of individuals if there is an arrest on another charge and to notify federal authorities of anyone in the country illegally.

Baumgardner's move isn't the only sign of a softer tone in local politics. Incoming state House Speaker Frank McNulty, a Highlands Ranch Republican, plans a bipartisan approach to the upcoming session. Though the GOP controls the Colorado House by one member, Dems still hold the Senate and governor's office. "Anything we seek to accomplish now, by definition, has to be Republicans working with Democrats," McNulty tells The Denver Post.

Meanwhile, state party leadership is also shifting. One familiar face, Pat Waak, has announced she will not seek a fourth term as chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, according to the Post. State GOP chairman Dick Wadhams, who is also considering his future, says he has great respect for Waak and "will miss our spirited discussions during joint appearances with civic organizations and the media." Wadhams is expected to decide this week whether to once again seek the leadership role within his party.