Gov. John Hickenlooper is optimistic Democrats can handle their new political dominance in Colorado.
It was a victorious night for the governor's party. Democrats swept Colorado's executive branch and won full control of the state House and Senate, creating a political trifecta for the first time in decades.
That political control historically offers opportunities and pitfalls, but Hickenlooper was quick to call the decisive wins a motivating factor for the new lawmakers.
"I heard a lot last night that Democrats feel that they are going to prove themselves, and they’re not in it just for a two-year majority, they’re going to be the voice of responsibility and pragmatic governance," he said.
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Hickenlooper also celebrated the election of Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, to the state legislature, as well as the wide margin of victory amassed by Jason Crow, who defeated Republican Mike Coffman for the District 6 congressional seat.
But the governor also emphasized that bipartisanship remains vital even with a political trifecta. The failure of many statewide ballot measures that aligned with the Democratic agenda ensures that issues concerning education, transportation and oil and gas will continue to dominate debates at the Capitol.
"Democrats did very well in Colorado yesterday but at the same time you have to recognize many of the issues they care about strongly did fail in the initiatives," Hickenlooper said. "I think Democrats have to realize they didn’t sweep the table, there’s still a lot of work to be done to find a consensus and a compromise on a lot of these issues."
Hickenlooper also wants Democrats to pursue another version of a red flag gun law, legislation that allows seizure of guns from people believed to be a risk to themselves or others, after a previous bill failed last legislative session.
The initiatives defeated last night may even provide a road map for Jared Polis, he said.
"One thing Jared distinguished himself by during the campaign is he learned, he grew, he’s curious, he’s a problem-solver, he’s definitely got a big heart, he cares about people all over the state, and I think these issues require that kind of person, that kind of approach," Hickenlooper said.