While COVID captured many headlines and the attention of Colorado politicians, they had plenty of other challenges in 2021. There was the expected challenge of redirecting under a new system, the unexpected challenge of the January 6 uprising, and the impossible challenge -Imagine Lauren Boebert’s somersault.
Here are the ten biggest political stories from Colorado in 2021:
Who is in third place?
From a holiday card with her children lugging weapons and sporting Raiders equipment, to her anti-Islamic attack on Ilhan Omar, Representative Lauren Boebert continued to make headlines as the year wore on. But then, Colorado’s newest congresswoman had gotten off to a quick start when, a few days after she was sworn in, she tweeted about Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts during the January 6 uprising. Charges against her were investigated, and then dropped; meanwhile, Boebert doubled his pro-assault rifle position just hours after the shooting at a Boulder King Soopers. Her goal was just as off-goal on the floor of the house; during her first year, the whole of Boeberts experiments to get legislation passed wrong.
Last but not least Eastman
The nation started the year with an uprising on January 6, and just two weeks later, several Coloradoans were identified as participants in the riot; that number eventually rose to eleven. But behind the scenes was a person with strong ties to Colorado: John Eastman, then a visiting professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. It turns out that Eastman, who was in the White House on the day of the uprising, not only pushed the line that massive election fraud had cost Donald Trump the election, but he came up with the strategy of persuading Vice President Mike Pence to declare that Trump was still president. Pence, who consulted with Dan Quayle, did not pray. And Eastman was not allowed to keep his CU concert; he has threatened to sue.
Goes to the mattresses
Although Colorado’s 2020 election went smoothly, lots of national controversy spilled over into this state. While Dominion Voting Systems and former CEO Eric Coomer began bringing defamation cases over allegations of electoral fraud, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters was the subject of major investigations by Mesa County DA office and Secretary of State Jena Griswold after reports that her office had been accessed by unauthorized persons, and confidential information had been leaked to followers of none other than Mike Lindell, the King of My Pillow. Lindell, for her part, helped Peters hide from the heat for a period before returning to Mesa County, where former Secretary of State Wayne Williams did Peters job at the election in November 2021. Meanwhile, Griswold is now asks for more funds for security due to threats related to these election lies.
Voting across the country is failing
The November vote included three state-wide voting measures, all of which failed. Two of the three were sponsored by the conservative nonprofit Colorado Rising Action; they focused on lowering property taxes and transferring some financing decisions from the executive to the legislature. The other who received the most attention would have raised the tax on marijuana to support the after-school centers; its defeat provided an education both in how voters feel about pot taxes and how they feel about questionable campaigns.
Behind the eighth ball
Independent redistribution commissions, established by 2018 voting measures, recast Colorado’s political districts at both the state and federal levels. The commissions, designed to alleviate biased gerrymandering, still managed to provoke criticism, especially in their efforts to create a competitive eighth congressional district running from the northern Denver suburbs up to Weld Country. Despite complaints, the Colorado Supreme Court approved the card, and it’s the candidates already announcing for the next term.
In March, the Colorado Republican Party elected a new leader, Kristi Burton Brown, who at the time was best known for pushing for a person change when she was in her teens. But that changed when a lawsuit filed by a former Dominion Voting Systems director identified Burton Brown as the former head of FEC United, a group dedicated to making false allegations of electoral fraud. Burton Brown, who was then deputy chairman of the party, has since tried to distance himself from the group, which is still claims she was the foundation of its present work.
Colorado Unemployment Claims
In March, then-Colorado auditor Dianne Ray found out that the State Department of Labor and Employment’s accounts were so sloppy that an audit could not assess the extent of problems, including fraud. New accountant Kerri Hunter finally tracked down some numbers in December, which settled it Colorado paid out $ 73 millionnine fraudulent unemployment benefits between March 2020 and April 2021. The department promised to implement better tracking and analysis of unemployment claims by 2022.
Richard Lamm’s death
Former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm died in August at the age of 85. A state legislator, when he began campaigning against using public funds to host the 1976 Winter Olympics in Denver, Lamm ended up making his way to the governor’s office in 1974. After he moved out, he made an unsuccessful independent bid as president, taught a legendary course on “Hard Choices,” and went on to share his views on controversial topics ranging from abortion to health care.
Reforms of criminal justice
In July, Governor Jared Polis signed ten bills affecting the criminal justice system of this state. The bills covered problems right from juvenile detention reform to when coloradans can get their driver’s license revoked. At the top of many lists were two bills concerning police reform. An updated last year’s Senate Bill 217, passed in the wake of protests related to George Floyd’s police-induced death. The other limited first responders’ use of ketamine in response to Elijah McClain’s death at the hands of Aurora police in August 2019. The state legislature also enacted three gun laws this year, which focused on proper storage of firearms, the procedure for reporting lost and stolen weapons, and strengthening of background checks.
Douglas County remains wild
Douglas County commissioners continued to make headlines in 2021. After establishing that county would leave Tri-County Health Department over disagreement over mask mandates, commissioners approved three fireworks that ended with set up actual fires in residential areas. Meant as a closing celebration, what started as a collaboration between three venues ended up in smoke instead.