Opinion | Bruce Butler: Election Day is coming — federal races and issues on the local ballot
Election Day 2022 is 50 days away — but functionally closer as ballots should be mailed by Oct. 17. There are federal, state and local candidates on the ballot, along with voter propositions. Let’s start by examining the races and issues for U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
Summit County is in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, which has incumbent Democrat Rep. Joe Neguse facing off against Republican challenger Marshall Dawson. The district is solidly Democratic — short of a GOP wave that results in a congressional realignment of historic proportion, there will be no change. In fact, most voters do not realize that only about 75 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House are in competitive districts. The rest heavily or exclusively favor one party or the other by virtue of how the districts are drawn. Colorado’s District 2 is one such district.
For U.S. Senate, incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett is facing off against Republican Joe O’Dea. Bennett is a reliable Democrat party-line vote with an otherwise unremarkable record in the Senate. O’Dea is a political newcomer, who touts his business executive experience and has asserted his independence from party-line ideology, including being pro-choice on abortion.
Colorado has been a swing or “purple” state for much of the 2000s but has trended solidly Democrat or “blue” in recent election cycles. How close this race is will depend on voter turnout and how satisfied or discontent unaffiliated voters are with the Democratic monopoly status quo.
On a national level, the Democratic strategy seems to be keeping former President Donald Trump front and center in the news cycle. They calculate that candidates’ chances are better if they can use the specter of Trump in 2024 to suck the oxygen out of the room for GOP candidates in 2022. For those who survive the oxygen deprivation, the strategy is to label them as “MAGA extremists” and “threats to democracy.”
This year the U.S. Supreme Court handed the Democratic party a gift to energize and turn out base voters by placing abortion front and center. which they did when they overturned 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. Aside from abortion, the Democrat strategy appears to be doubling down on environmental, social, and corporate governance; higher corporate taxes; climate change; abolition of fossil fuels; and steadfast promotion of electric cars and green energy.
On the other side, the Biden administration and a number of big city Democratic mayors and left-wing prosecutors have handed the GOP many issues to run on in 2022, including high inflation and economic insecurity; immigration chaos on the southern border, including fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking; hiring 87,000 more IRS agents; out of control crime in major cities across the country; colluding with the teachers unions to keep schools closed, kids in masks, and to promote controversial curriculum; an embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan; weakness on China and international affairs; and transferring $500 billon to $1 trillion worth of student loan debt to taxpayers in a legally questionable executive order.
To date, the GOP strategy seems to rely on voters using the midterm elections as a referendum on President Biden’s poor performance, high inflation, lack of leadership and overall low polling numbers. The President’s party historically loses seats in midterm elections, and many GOP leaders and pundits have assumed that Republican candidates will win this year simply by being the antidote to Joe Biden and promising some investigative hearings into the origins of COVID-19 and government abuse of power.
Democrats take heart. The Republican party has an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! The House Republicans are reportedly releasing a policy agenda for the 2022 midterms later this week. It is too late to be effective in any macro way. U.S. House and Senate Republican candidates should have been running for months on a platform of promoting economic prosperity and lowering inflation, energy independence, public safety and crime reduction, border and national security, asserting parental rights in their children’s education, and getting fentanyl off U.S. streets.
Make a bowl of popcorn, it is going to be an interesting election night.
Bruce Butler's column "Common Sense Conversations" publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Butler is a former mayor and council member in Silverthorne, where he has lived for 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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