Year in Review

The Ten Worst Political Moments of 2018

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In a year in which election results should have been the most dramatic news in politics, Colorado's lawmakers outdid themselves with one scandal after another. Inspired in part by the #MeToo movement, women came forward to accuse politicos in the Statehouse and City and County Building of sexual misconduct. While several state legislators succumbed to the accusations and the Golden Dome is reviewing its policies for dealing with sexual misconduct, Mayor Michael Hancock seems to have survived his own allegations...for now. Keep reading for ten of the biggest gaffes in local and statewide politics in 2018.

GOP's Election Night
Pundits expected bad news for the GOP, but few predicted just how crushing the Blue Wave would be in Colorado. After Democrats won every statewide office and the legislature, Republicans went home on November 6 licking their wounds. Looking ahead to 2020, it does appear as though the party is pondering how to win back the moderate voters who ran away from them in the fall. But based on the clear anti-Trump message Colorado voters sent during November's midterms, it will be difficult for the state's Republicans to mount a meaningful comeback while the Donald is still tweeting from the West Wing.

This year was not especially kind to Hancock.
Anthony Camera
Michael Hancock’s Texts
Denver's mayor had a rough start to 2018. In February, Denver7 broke a story about inappropriate text messages Hancock had sent to Leslie Branch-Wise, a subordinate on his security detail who accused the mayor of harassment. Hancock seems to have survived the scandal relatively unscathed, but voters will decide whether they want to keep him as the city's leader during the municipal elections in May.

#MeToo Hits the Statehouse
Allegations of sexual misconduct hounded state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, from Democratic Senator Daniel Kagan, who resigned following allegations that he used a women’s restroom in the Capitol on multiple occasions, to GOP Senator Randy Baumgardner, who is accused of slapping a legislative aide’s buttocks several times in 2016. Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Jovan Melton has so far gone unpunished for two prior accusations of domestic violence. And speaking of #MeToo…

Steve Lebsock’s Ugly Expulsion
After allegations of sexual harassment from at least eleven women, the then-Democratic Thornton state rep got booted out of the Statehouse in early March by a 52-9 vote. It marked the first expulsion in over a hundred years at the Capitol, and just the second in state history. Lebsock fully burned the bridge on his way out, changing his party registration from Democrat to Republican minutes before he addressed the legislature for the final time so that his replacement had to be a Republican. So long, Steve.
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Chris Bianchi is a Westword contributor interested in politics.
Contact: Chris Bianchi