Nearly 80 percent of Denver residents voted for Democrats in the last election, Joe Biden easily carrying Colorado by 13 percentage points largely on the strength of support from Denver and surrounding suburbs. Like many urban centers, however, Denver is a blue dot in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly red state.
What has Democrats beginning to sweat a month away from election day, however, is the unmistakable connection voters are drawing between the criminal reforms enacted by state Democrats and Denver’s record crime rates. Even the left-leaning Denver Post recently featured an extensive series on the city’s surging crime.
Thanks to the drumbeats of defund the police, efforts to decriminalize a multitude of crimes and reduce punishments, state Democrats have signaled their tolerance of criminal elements. The result? Over the past two years, violent crime rates are up 17 percent. Colorado now has the highest auto theft rate in the nation, and the surrounding cities of Aurora, Pueblo, and Westminster all rank in the top 10 of 167 American cities, according to data compiled by the Common Sense Institute using publicly available reports.
Colorado’s fentanyl overdose epidemic, furthermore, is among the worst in the nation as well. The Colorado State Patrol is on track to seize 300 percent more illicit fentanyl this year than last. The 412 pounds of fentanyl seized in Colorado so far this year is enough to end the lives of 93 million people—or enough to kill every Coloradan 15 times over. Additionally, the number of overdose deaths per one million residents has increased 101 percent in the state between 2019 and 2022. Experts now expect fentanyl to kill more than 1,500 Coloradans this year—up nearly 500 souls from 2021.
“Democrats decriminalized the possession of hard drugs like fentanyl in 2019, claiming it was a more compassionate approach to addiction,” says District Attorney John Kellner who is the Republican nominee running for Colorado Attorney General, “it really just allowed dealers to hide in plain sight while overdose deaths skyrocketed.”
Illegal marijuana seizures, too, are up 1,327 percent in Colorado, more than eight times the amount of legal pot sales. According to the State Patrol, Colorado is experiencing a 10-year drug trafficking record.
And young people in the state are dying because of it. Overdoses among teens are soaring and the state has the highest increase in teen suicide rate in the US since 2016, and many link the widespread availability of a multitude of drugs to that increase.
“While recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012 with proponents claiming that legalization would shrink the illegal market,” says Kellner, “the black market has, instead, proliferated. Colorado is now a gateway for distribution throughout the country because criminal reformers made it clear to cartels and others that it was safe to do business here.”
Despite the state’s spiking crime rates, incarceration in the state has dropped 15 percent, the number of offenders on parole is down 14 percent as is the number of offenders on probation by an equal amount.
“In what universe does that make sense?” asks Kellner. “More crime should mean more arrests, more convictions, and more incarceration if you care at all about public safety. I tell my friends in Denver that if you want to keep worrying about your kid’s safety and whether your car is still going to be in your driveway when you wake up in the morning, just keep voting for soft-on-crime leaders like my opponent, Phil Weiser.”
Eight months ago, most polls showed statewide races for Governor, Senate, and Attorney General as “solid Democrat.” Today, several polls have all three races within the margin of error in what has been a tectonic political shift to the right.
Apparently even Denver Democrats have a limit to the amount of crime they’ll suffer. A month from now, we’ll know if they’ve had enough.