Colorado's state constitution provides for three branches of government:
The Governor heads the state's executive branch. The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest judicial court in the state. The state legislative body is the Colorado General Assembly, which is made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The House has 65 members and the Senate has 35. Currently, the House is controlled by the Republican Party by a one vote majority and the Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly was the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years. The incumbent governor is Democrat John Hickenlooper.
The state of Colorado is divided into 64 counties. Counties are important units of government in Colorado since the state has no secondary civil subdivisions such as townships. Two of these counties, the City and County of Denver and the City and County of Broomfield, have consolidated city and county governments.
Nine Colorado counties have a population in excess of 250,000 each, while eight Colorado counties have a population of less than 2,500 each. The ten most populous Colorado counties are located in the Front Range Urban Corridor.
Until the election of Barack Obama, the people of Colorado had voted Republican in every U.S. Presidential Election since 1964, with the exception of 1992 when a plurality voted for Bill Clinton, (possibly due to the effect of Ross Perot's candidacy.) Conversely, Colorado has held a Democratic governor for 22 of the past 30 years.
Colorado has a history of voter initiatives which severely restrict the power of state government. Some of these initiatives include Term Limits on Legislators (1990), TABOR (Tax Payer's Bill of Rights) (1992), and Amendment 23, passed in 2000, which set a fixed percentage of the budget for K-12 education. Voters passed Referendum C in 2005, amending some restrictions of TABOR and Amendment 23.
Colorado supported George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, by a margin of less than 5%. Republicans have generally held control of state-wide offices and the state legislature since the 1960s. In 2004, while Bush won the state's electors, Democrat, Ken Salazar won a U.S. Senate seat and his brother John Salazar won a seat in the U.S. House, while the Democrats captured both chambers of the state legislature. Most recently, in 2006, Democrat Bill Ritter won the governorship by a 16-point margin while the Democrats expanded their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature and Democrat Ed Perlmutter captured another U.S. House seat. In 2010, however, Republicans made big gains in the state.
They won the statewide races of Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer. Republicans also defeated two incumbent Democratic House members to hold a 4-3 majority in the state's House delegation. Furthermore, Republicans took control of the Colorado House of Representatives. This occurred even as Democrat John Hickenlooper won the governorship, albeit over weak and divided opposition, and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was re-elected. Also as a result of the 2010 gubernatorial election the Constitution Party gained major party status as it passed the 10% popular vote threshhold, putting it in an equal legal position with the Democratic and Republican parties in terms of rights under state election law.
Colorado was a battleground state in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election between Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. Obama won Colorado, by a margin of 8%, with 53% of the vote to McCain's 45%.
In the 2012 Presidential Election once again Colorado was a battleground state.
As usual, Colorado will again play a major role in the next election. What role will you play?