The ballots are coming in, the attack ads are fading away, and the results will be tallied Tuesday for the 2014 election. Time to predict who will win, who might win and who deserves special recognition.
• Governor: John Hickenlooper's campaign has been timid and unfocused, and the incumbent seemed tired and out of sorts during a televised debate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs two weeks ago. Bob Beauprez has been a fierce and relentless campaigner, but he may have difficulty connecting with the suburban women who could decide the election. Although Hickenlooper is only six years younger than Beauprez, they seem to be of different generations. Beauprez was a high school football star who grew up working on the family dairy farm, majored in phys ed at CU, married his childhood sweetheart, went back to the farm, bought out his siblings, subdivided the property, bought a bank and got rich. Growing up in the tumult of the '60s, Hickenlooper worked as a geologist, got laid off, started the state's first brewpub, helped create LoDo and did well. He was a young professional, socially conscious entrepreneur, networker, community-builder and city-dwelling urbanist before his time. Beauprez's world is fading, while Hickenlooper's is expanding. Can the past hold on, or will the future be served? I say it's Hickenlooper.
• U.S. Senate: Cory Gardner has run an impeccable campaign. He somehow persuaded the Denver Post's editorial board to endorse him, despite his deeply conservative (can you say tea party?) congressional voting record. Mark Udall has been thoughtful, conscientious and invisible during his six years in office. His campaign has been both spiritless and nasty, hammering away at traditional Democratic themes. If Bill Clinton were president, Udall would win going away — but he's stuck with Barack Obama's baggage in an off year. Gardner.
• U.S. House: Doug Lamborn is the Republican incumbent in a deeply red district, one that greatly depends upon military and military-related spending. He's despised by Democrats, disliked by many in his own party, and ineffective in Congress. His opponent Irv Halter is an articulate, impeccably ethical, retired Air Force major general, a conservative Democrat who intimately understands the Pentagon. We'd be lucky to have him in Washington. But this is Colorado Springs, where Ronald Reagan couldn't win an election without an "R" beside his name. Lamborn.
• Issue 1B, Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority: If county voters approve this fee-based stormwater authority, we'll have begun to address our massive regional infrastructure deficit. If it fails, we'll be in a world of hurt, fending off lawsuits from Pueblo and praying for drought. After three years of flood and fire, voters may regard PPRDA as a way of funding urgent public safety needs, not another layer of government. Yes.
• State Senate District 11: It's geezer vs. geezer as incumbent Bernie Herpin defends his victory in last year's recall election. He's up against another wily politician, former state Rep. Mike Merrifield. Both are running smart, cautious, well-funded campaigns for this swing seat, with control of the Senate possibly at stake. District demographics favor Merrifield, but can Dems turn out the vote? They couldn't do it for John Morse. There's a wild card — will the Manitou marijuana contest have any effect? Fortunately for us, this is one of those rare races with two well-qualified candidates. Herpin.
• County Commissioner District 5: Jariah Walker is a dream candidate, smart, articulate, deeply rooted in the business and young-professional communities, full of energy and great ideas. But he's a political novice up against incumbent Peggy Littleton. You may not like her politics, you may even think that she's nuts, but so what? She's shrewd, purposeful and personally engaging ... and she's a Republican. Littleton.
• Special recognition: Mike Dunafon has to be the least conventional elected official in Colorado, if not in America. Glendale's mayor, running as an independent for governor with Springs banker Robin Roberts as his running mate, is pro-marijuana, pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, anti-big government and endorsed by Snoop Dogg. His campaign website features a picture of him cavorting in a hot tub with three topless women, maybe strippers from Shotgun Willy's, where he's held a couple of campaign events. He's not just a party boy, with a solid record of accomplishment during his 15-year run in Glendale. Good luck, Mike ... and if you don't make it this time, move down here and run for mayor next April.