Former President Barack Obama and his former vice president, Joe Biden racked up perfect scores endorsing Colorado candidates in this year’s election – every candidate backed by the two Democratic heavyweights went on to win.
In addition, a Colorado-based organization that celebrates the state’s reputation for outdoor recreation threw its support exclusively behind candidates and ballot measures that went on to win at the ballot box, and several politicians and groups that dispensed endorsements judiciously – some endorsing just a single candidate – backed the winners.
For the past year and a half, Colorado Politics has kept track of who’s endorsing whom. Now that Colorado voters have spoken, Colorado Politics thought it would be illuminating to take a look at whose endorsements best coincided with the election results.
It was a good cycle to endorse Colorado Democrats, since they nearly ran the table statewide, winning up and down the ballot. And two of the country’s most prominent Democrats scored the best records out of any politicians or organizations expressing a preference in a range of Colorado races.
Obama went out on a limb on more Colorado races than Biden – endorsing 25 Democrats running for office in the state, compared with just eight formal endorsements by Biden – but both former White House occupants batted a thousand.
“I’m proud to endorse even more Democratic candidates who aren’t just running against something, but for something – to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore dignity, honor and compassion to public service,” Obama said Oct. 1 in a tweet unveiling his second round of endorsements. “They deserve your vote.”
The statewide and congressional candidates who received Obama’s blessing were the winning gubernatorial ticket of Jared Polis and Dianne Primavera, attorney general nominee Phil Weiser, secretary of state nominee Jena Griswold, state treasurer nominee David Young, 2nd Congressional District nominee Joe Neguse and 6th Congressional District nominee Jason Crow.
Legislative candidates backed by the former commander in chief were state Senate nominees Tammy Story, Jessie Danielson, Brittany Pettersen and Faith Winter; and state House candidates Dylan Roberts, Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Jeff Bridges, Matt Gray, Barbara McLachlan, Shannon Bird, Rochelle Galindo, Tony Exum Sr., Marc Synder, Lisa Cutter, Yadira Caraveo, Kyle Mullica and Tom Sullivan.
Biden endorsed Griswold, Crow, Neguse, Story, Danielson, Pettersen, Winter – and state Sen. Kerry Donovan.
On the other hand, Obama’s successor, President Donald Trump, laid a goose egg in the one Colorado race where he made a formal endorsement.
Although he didn’t visit Colorado during what ended up being the heaviest presidential midterm campaign schedule in recent history, Trump twice tweeted out his backing for Walker Stapleton, the Republican who lost to Polis in the governor’s race by 10.65 percentage points.
Obama also outscored Trump on congressional endorsements nationwide. The Brookings Institution calculates that Obama endorsed 74 House and Senate candidates, of whom 45 won, while Trump endorsed 75 congressional candidates, of whom 42 won.
Vice President Mike Pence endorsed 61 House and Senate candidates, and 26 won, Brookings figures, while Biden’s 57 congressional endorsees included 38 winners.
Meanwhile, the Outdoor Industry Association, a trade group that moved its headquarters last year from Utah to Colorado, endorsed candidates from both major parties in key races across the country for the first time, and made recommendations on a few Colorado ballot measures.
In Colorado, at least, voters agreed.
OIA endorsed Polis, Crow and Neguse. It also urged voters to reject Amendment 74, which would have allowed property owners to sue government entities for decisions that reduced the value of their property, and endorsed a conservation measure in Chaffee County and an open space tax in Denver.
One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, endorsed the winners in every race – but in a twist also threw its support behind two candidates who lost, marring its otherwise perfect record.
Polis, who became the first openly gay man elected governor anywhere in the country, won the group’s endorsement, as did Weiser and a slew of Democratic legislative candidates, as well as Republican Don Coram, who won his bid for another term in the state Senate.
In two races, however, One Colorado backed both a Democrat and a Republican, calling all four candidates “pro-equality champions.” The group endorsed Winter and the Republican incumbent she defeated in Senate District 24, Beth Martinez Humenik. It also supported Exum and his Republican challenger, Kit Roupe, who lost a bid to regain the House District 17 seat she relinquished to Exum two years ago.
The rest of One Colorado’s endorsements included state senate candidates Donovan, Danielson, Story and Pettersen, as well as Leroy Garcia, Pete Lee, Robert Rodriguez and Julie Gonzales.
The other House candidates endorsed by One Colorado were Bridges, Roberts, Michaelson-Jenet, Gray, McLachlan, Snyder, Caraveo, Mullica, Bird, Sullivan, Galindo, Susan Lontine, Alec Garnett, Chris Hansen, James Coleman, Leslie Herod, Edie Hooten, Jonathan Singer, KC Becker, Chris Kennedy, Tracy Kraft-Tharp, Adrienne Benavidez, Mike Weissman, Janet Buckner, Jovan Melton, Dominique Jackson, Daneya Esgar, Joann Ginal, Jeni Arndt, Don Valdez, Serena Gonzales-Gutirrez, Alex Valdez, Emily Sirota, Sonya Jaquez Lewis, Monica Duran, Brianna Titone, Kerry Tipper, Bri Buentello and Julie McClusky.
Democrat Pat Schroeder, the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado, made just one endorsement, and it proved to be a winner.
Schroeder, who served 12 terms representing the Denver-based 1st Congressional District, praised Polis, a five-term congressman, for his “unmatched record of turning bold ideas into real results for Colorado families.”
Not a single newspaper backed an entire slate of winners in Colorado this year, although a couple came close.
Nearly ever paper that made endorsements supported Republican Wayne Williams in his bid for a second term as secretary of state, but voters disagreed, electing Democrat Jena Griswold.
Griswold won an endorsement from the Boulder Weekly. The publication, however, also endorsed Republican Brian Watson in the state treasurer’s race, and he lost to Young.