Kurtis Lee offers a good overview of the State of Hick and what’s ahead for the Guv heading into an election year: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24479256/amendment-66-defeat-capped-year-challenges-gov-hickenlooper
Even the staunchest Hick cheerleader would be hard pressed to call 2013 a winner (A66 fiasco, recalls, death penalty flip flops, rural energy standards, perceived legislative overreach). But he/team made some smart decisions – not attaching the Hick brand too closely to A66, getting way in front of the fires and floods cleanup and showing gubernatorial leadership.
I believe the Guv’s political instincts are centrist/measured/pragmatic. He wants to be an above-the- messy -partisan-politics leader. But it surely hasn’t felt that way for the last year. Instead he’s looked, sounded, acted like a pol — and a liberal D pol at that.
But there’s lots of time to get back to the center where he needs to be by next November.
Of course, the Republicans will probably do all they can to help him get back there.
Weak Field: First, the GOP field of gubernatorial candidates are all well-well-right of center and the top two current candidates, Gessler and Tancredo, have all sorts of personal and political warts that will make it tough for them to fight for the moderate middle. Brophy is colorful, quotable, conservative with a twist… but doesn’t look like he can raise money and is not well known outside of his eastern senate district. Big Advantage: Hick
Recall Ridiculousness: Also on the horizon is the Hudak recall. Leave aside (for now) how misguided and just plain wrong unwarranted recall elections are for politics and elections (more to come on this). Best thing that could possibly happen for the Guv is a successful recall to throw the state Senate into GOP control going into an election year. Liberal Morgan Carroll as the current leader will force Hick’s hand on all sorts of left issues (he would have to start searching for high-profile veto opportunities asap.) But an angry, motivated GOP controlled senate would offer an entirely different opportunity to show centrist bearings.
Twelve months until the reelect is an eternity in politics. The Guv/his peeps understand that the center wins in Colorado. He’s got the looming legislative session to use as a huge opportunity for a Sister Soulja re-positioning event/signal to snap back to the middle quickly. (Seriously, he’s not gonna be challenged from the base/far left, he needs to look for ways to demonstrate pushing back against the liberal Ds, get in bed with moderates/conservatives). The trick will be for Hick to hold the base while scratching and crawling his way back to the middle (before the GOP smartens up and finds a more pro-business, centrist candidate). Is he a moderate/centrist? This winter/spring will tell. Stay tuned.