While Frank McNulty’s fourth victory in state House District 43 came with another Douglas County landslide, the former House speaker’s fellow Republicans did not fare as well Nov. 6.
The Republicans, which had controlled the state House 33-32, gave up five seats to the Democratic Party in the 2012 election, forcing McNulty out as speaker as the Dems took a sizable 37-28 advantage.
McNulty, who has served in the state House since 2006, was elected as speaker in 2010. And despite easily defeating Democratic challenger Gary Semro 63-37 in the election, the decision was made afterward that the Highlands Ranch incumbent would not seek a leadership role within his party this time around.
McNulty said that “maintaining and growing a majority is a much different proposition” than maintaining continuous leadership, and he pointed to the fact that he is term-limited as one reason he chose not run for the role of minority leader in 2013. Mark Waller of Colorado Springs, one of 10 Republicans who were elected without Democratic opposition, will fill that role.
In seats that were contested by both parties, the Democrats won 37-18.
Analysts seem to be in agreement that McNulty’s handling of the civil-unions bill this past session had a lot to do with the recent Democratic takeover in the House, and the Democrats appear to be making a point with their selection of openly gay Rep. Mark Ferrandino to replace McNulty as speaker, making the passing of civil unions more likely in 2013.
“With the Republicans losing control of the house in Colorado, and all of the discussion that is being had within the party about its future, the party right now is clearly on the wrong side of demographic trends,” said Norman Provizer, who holds a Ph.D. in political science and is a professor at Metro State University. “This election indicated a changing trend in gay issues, and not just in Colorado, but nationwide.”
Fight Back Colorado, a pro-LBGT-rights organization, launched a major grassroots campaign statewide to successfully unseat three anti-civil-union Republican representatives, helping to tip the scales to the left.
“Regardless of the agenda that the Democrats push, our goal will be to work in a strong bipartisan manner,” McNulty said. “The people of Colorado don’t like gridlock, they are tired of gridlock and over the past two years we showed that we don’t have to have gridlock and that Republicans and Democrats can work together. Hopefully that will continue now even that the Democrats have the majority.”
McNulty said he accomplished much of what he set out to do in his first three terms, and he plans to focus on K-12 education, small business growth and economic recovery in his final term.