From Rockies, Dems Can See Their Future

Party can mine the West's demographic, ideological shifts
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2008 7:06 AM CDT
"He's in the Colorado mold," former Democratic senator Gary Hart says of Gov. Bill Ritter. "He's smart but he's not uppity. He's a down-to-earth, everyday guy, which is very important out here."   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The past few years have shown a surprising trend toward a Democratic preference in the Mountain West, but that doesn’t mean voters are embracing the party line, Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker. Governors like Colorado’s Bill Ritter—who gained office on a coalition more of new industries and freethinkers than labor and minorities—have been changing what it means to be Democratic.

Barack Obama’s campaign could learn a few things as it seeks to mine the West. Ritter is a pro-business, pro-green-tech centrist, as likely to rebuff Democrats as Republicans. While lack of political loyalty might be a death knell in the entrenched East, in relatively young “Colorado, it’s a badge of honor,” Ritter said. In the West, one watcher said, “it’s the end of the New Deal coalition.”