Washington is gridlocked and focused on the presidential election, but bitter fights rage for control of state capitals around the country.
If you wanted a ringside seat for some high-flying political drama last month, Denver would have been hard to beat. The statehouse pyrotechnics over civil unions for gay couples --a late-night standoff, a filibuster, and a tense countdown to the end of the session -- were much more exciting than the scene in Washington, where legislative work has mostly come to a standstill in the midst of a presidential-election year.
In a few months' time, the White House race will suck up most of the oxygen in Colorado, as President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney flood the state with TV ads and muscular get-out-the-vote operations. But just as crucial to the future of the Centennial State are its legislative elections, and how they turn out will be tied to the performance of the Obama and Romney campaigns.
The Colorado House, where Republicans hold a precarious 33-32 majority and all 65 seats are up, is one of some dozen legislative chambers around the country that could flip from one party to the other. Many of them are in the same swing states, and hinge on the same battleground counties, where the presidential race will be decided.