Looking at 2014 congressional races

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By Greg Romberg

What a difference a congressional election cycle can make! Two years ago, before the congressional district boundaries had even been finalized, Democratic candidates were off and running in the 2012 elections for three of the four congressional seats Republicans held in Colorado. Only Doug Lamborn, from the reliably Republican 5th Congressional District that is dominated by Colorado Springs, didn’t have an announced challenger.

National Democratic leaders had recruited the Democratic leaders of the Colorado General Assembly, Senate President Brandon Shaffer and House Minority Leader Sal Pace, to challenge Republicans Cory Gardner in District 4 and Scott Tipton in District 3. Democratic state Rep. Joe Miklosi was challenging Mike Coffman in the 6th.
Once the district boundaries were finalized, two of the races looked much different. The new 4th District became more advantageous for Gardner than it had been under the previous boundaries, and the 6th District went from a very safe Republican seat to one of the most evenly split districts between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters in the country. Late in 2011, Republican businessman Joe Coors organized a campaign to challenge Democratic incumbent Ed Perlmutter in the 7th District.
All the incumbents were re-elected, with only Coffman being seriously challenged.
As we enter the second half of 2013 and look toward the 2014 elections, things are very different than two years ago. Of Colorado’s seven congressional districts, there is only one announced challenger.
Former House speaker Andrew Romanoff, emboldened by Miklosi’s surprisingly close contest and the more favorable registration numbers, is running hard against Coffman. Despite a range of potential candidates who had expressed interest in running, Romanoff has managed to clear the deck of Democratic opponents. He and Coffman are both actively raising money and campaigning in what will undoubtedly be one of the most watched congressional races in the country. Romanoff will be a much more viable candidate than Miklosi, but Coffman will benefit by the race not being in a presidential election year. Miklosi benefited immensely by the fact that Arapahoe County was one of the most targeted counties in one of the most targeted states by the Obama presidential campaign.
There will undoubtedly be challengers in the other six congressional districts, but it appears that potential challengers recognize that it will be almost as difficult to beat Tipton, Gardner or Perlmutter as to challenge Lamborn or Democrats Diana DeGette or Jared Polis in the reliably Democratic 1st and 2nd Districts.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.