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Eight months ago Democrats were looking at the congressional landscape in Colorado and hoping to end 2006 with a 4-3 advantage among the seven available seats. The one seat thought to be a good opportunity for a pickup was CO-7 (Golden, Lakewood, Adams County), where Bob Beauprez was leaving to run for governor. While Democrats were somewhat hopeful that they could pick up a win in CO-4 against Marilyn Musgrave, the other two Republican-held seats (CO-5 and CO-6) weren’t thought to be in play. There were a lot of best-case scenarios, but the most likely scenario had Democrats winning CO-7 and holding onto their three current seats (CO-1, CO-2 and CO-3).
That line of thinking changed over the summer as Democrats drew new hope. Bill Winter’s campaign produced a poll that showed he had a chance to knock off Republican Tom Tancredo in CO-6, and Democrat Angie Paccione started to raise a lot of money in her bid to take out Musgrave in CO-4. A heated six-way primary in CO-5 left Republican Doug Lamborn battered and bruised heading into a fall matchup against Democrat Jay Fawcett, and suddenly Democrats were dreaming about brooms (as in, making a clean sweep).
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With two weeks to go until election day, it looks like we’re back to where we were eight months ago. Democrat Ed Perlmutter looks good in his effort to defeat Republican Rick O’Donnell in CO-7, but that’s almost the best-case scenario for the donkeys at this point. Musgrave is solidly ahead of Paccione and is still hammering away with negative ads, and Winter is the only serious congressional candidate in Colorado who didn’t get his face on television. Fawcett is the Democrats’ last true hope to pick up an extra seat in Colorado, but polls have him trailing Lamborn in a district with 100,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Fawcett could still pull off the upset, but the picture doesn’t look quite as rosy in late October as it did a few months ago.
Nevertheless, it’s a sign of good times for Democrats that they may be lamenting only picking up one seat in congress this year. If Perlmutter wins, Democrats would control four of the seven available congressional seats in Colorado for the first time ever. That’s a victory in itself, even if bigger plans had been made.