The political theater this week was the culmination of a 120-day session that proved to be the latest illustration of the leftward shift in what was long a battleground state, leaving Republicans scrambling to adjust to their unfamiliarly weak position and surfacing internal rifts among Democrats over just how progressive Colorado should be.
The shift has been partly driven by migration to Colorado and the transformation of white, college-educated voters — a disproportionate share of the state's electorate — into Democratic supporters during the Trump era. The last Republican presidential candidate that Colorado voters backed was George W. Bush in 2004. The current governor, both U.S. Senators and five of the eight members of the U.S. House are Democratic.
With Democrats also in control of two-thirds of seats in the state House and Senate, the largest majority for the party in decades, Republicans have often resorted to delay tactics this session. One filibuster ran for 18 hours and spilled into the next morning. Sometimes Republicans asked that bills be read at length, and an electronic voice would drone through byzantine language for hours.
Yet they were unable to stop Democrats from passing the state’s largest gun control package and codifying protections for abortion and transgender rights.
To help pass those bills, House Speaker Julie McCluskie invoked a rarely used rule curtailing filibusters, arguing that the debates had become unproductive and merely stall tactics. Republicans decried it as a gag measure.
“What we saw through this session is ... an overwhelming amount of power,” Minority Leader Rep. Mike Lynch said, calling Republicans' position a “superminority.”
“It makes it really hard to find out how we can still contribute to our districts,” he added, and said Monday's walkout was necessary to send a statement because “We were out of tools."