The Christian Science Monitor has a feature article on Denver’s attempt to reinvent its image.

Denver, in particular, is combining an old pragmatism with an intensifying progressive bent.

Quoting political analyst Floyd Cirruli, the article reports that the Owens Era is ending and the age of Hickenlooper has arrived. We still have our western state values, we’re just more progressive.

It’s not so much that the Denver area’s politics have shifted markedly to the left, he says, as that voters are becoming even more independent — and willing to pay extra taxes for certain issues, like schools and the environment, that they believe in. “I don’t think we’ve become the California of the Rocky Mountains,” he says, noting that new residents seem to have more of a pragmatic streak, and are less invested in any party’s ideology. “But I think [politics] will be much more competitive here, and it’s becoming slightly more progressive…. We’ve just come out of the [Gov. Bill] Owens era and are entering the [Mayor John] Hickenlooper era.”

Much of the article focuses on mass transit, but there’s also some more predictable fare — such as the issue of whether Colorado will become Californicated and gripes by those who want the city to stay rooted in the present:

“The character of the state and city … continues to evolve, but Colorado has always been a destination for those who are attracted to rugged individualism,” says Jon Caldara, president of the Independent Institute, a conservative think tank and ardent opponent of FasTracks and other tax hikes. “There does seem to be the difference in attitude on a lot of big-government things from people who move into Colorado from big-government places.” Caldara doesn’t buy the new urbanist arguments about Denver’s future: “The fact of the matter is the importance of downtown in any Western city is waning.”

[hat tip to Walter in Denver.]