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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

If you thought 2023 was politically heated, just wait until 2024

Coloradans could be forgiven for feeling exhausted after a busy political year in 2023. But just as we come to the end, 2024 seems poised to demand we “hold my beer.”


At this time last year, Denver municipal races were heating up for an April election and June runoff. The campaign was highlighted by the first open-seat mayoral race in nearly a decade and half. After serving three terms that saw a surge in growth and pandemic, Mayor Michael Hancock was term-limited.


That led to a jam-packed ballot with 16 candidates battling it out for limited debate time and fundraising dollars. It also meant voters were faced with an influx of political messages that left many confused and disheartened. In the end, the two candidates who benefited the most from outside money broke through to the June runoff battle.


Mayor Mike Johnston eventually earned a hard-fought win only to be faced with more significant policy challenges than any mayor in recent memory. First and foremost, Johnston focused on the rapid growth of the city’s unhoused population. His administration wss frantically trying to meet its self-imposed goal of 1,000 people brought indoors before the end of the year. 


Even if the result came with a few question marks along the way, it will mark a significant achievement. Now Johnston will not only need to continue to make progress on the unhoused dilemma, but take on a multitude of similar problems — from creating long-term housing to increasing housing affordability and addressing public healthcare challenges — over the next year. 


Johnston has been doing that with a reformed Denver City Council after several open seats and tough campaigns reshaped its makeup. Most prominently, first-time candidate Daryl Watson toppled the most high-profile, controversial member of the previous governing body, Candi CdeBaca. It marked a significant change in the direction of the progressive movement that should be felt for years to come.


But all of that was at least politics as usual, even if a bit messy.


Voters from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have been on a rollercoaster all year thanks to their elected member of Congress. After barely squeaking out the country’s slimmest margin of victory in 2022, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert began the year holding up the election of a Speaker for days. Her lack of any coherent reason for doing so made even the most conservative commentators apoplectic.


She followed that up by proving she is all hoster and no gun when she skipped a vote she had spent weeks railing against. When a reporter caught her running up the U.S. Capitol steps just after the vote, she came up with a series of excuses and rationalizations that always seemed half-baked. 


And that might have been the highpoint in her year.


While her 2022 opponent outraised her by several multiples heading into 2024, she faced a significant revolt within her own party. A credible candidate emerged to challenge her in the Republican primary, garnering important endorsements and fundraising help. 


That is probably why she sought to go out on the town and let loose — or not — in September. Thanks to multiple cameras located within the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, we all know what happened and how she casually lied to everyone before she was presented with the video proof.


Boebert became an international laughingstock even though the most distasteful moment came when the supposedly pro-life politician purposefully blew smoke into the face of a pregnant patron seated behind Boebert.


I wouldn’t have guessed she could top that. And then, just as the year end came close, she dropped a bombshell. Boebert has decided to drop the voters who stuck by her and throw her hat into another congressional race on the other side of the state.


Faced with an uphill battle, this self-proclaimed “fighter” turned tail and ran away, pinning her hopes of staying in office on beating a host of candidates attempting to out-conservative each other in the race to replace U.S. Rep Ken Buck. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Buck heard the announcement from Ol’ Sandbag Boebert.


Certainly other members of the Republican Party were nonplussed. Party Chair Dave Williams decried her choice, and a group of far-right conservatives said she was “abandoning her constituents” for a “self-serving bid to hold onto power.” 


While Boebert is busy hopping between ballots, the most consequential story to come out of Colorado was the state Supreme Court decision to bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot (as an attorney working on that case, it is more ethical if I do not write about it in detail). Depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court schedules briefing and arguments, a politically transformative decision could come down in the first few weeks of the New Year.


With a start like that, 2024 could turn into the most politically volatile year in Colorado history.




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