Republicans Gain Edge, Especially In Colorado This week, big-time Democrats Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota decided not to run for re-election and a number of Democrats are retiring from the House of Representatives. In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter announced Wednesday he won't seek a second term. With the news, Colorado Republicans are feeling like they have a chance to make inroads.
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Republicans Gain Edge, Especially In Colorado

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Republicans Gain Edge, Especially In Colorado

Republicans Gain Edge, Especially In Colorado

Republicans Gain Edge, Especially In Colorado

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This week, big-time Democrats Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota decided not to run for re-election and a number of Democrats are retiring from the House of Representatives. In Colorado, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter announced Wednesday he won't seek a second term. With the news, Colorado Republicans are feeling like they have a chance to make inroads.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

In this election year, this week will be remembered as the time some big-time Democrats bowed out. The most prominent, Senators Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota - both decided not to run for reelection, and they're not alone. In the House, a number of Democrats are retiring, and we'll hear about two of them in a few minutes.

BLOCK: NPR's Jeff Brady has our story.

JEFF BRADY: In making his announcement, Governor Ritter offered a classic explanation: He wants to spend more time with his family.

BILL RITTER: I would say it this way: I haven't found the proper balance where my family is concerned. I've not made them the priority that they should be.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAFFIC)

BRADY: Out on the snowy streets of Denver, voters were surprised and not everyone was buying it.

RICHARD MOREAU: It came kind of as a shock, 'cause I don't know if he's being forced out or not, you know?

ED RABY: I had no idea it was coming. Learned yesterday morning, completely surprised.

BRADY: Governor Ritter says he was not forced out. He says he made the decision over Christmas break and that personal matters were at the top of his mind. But speaking at the state capitol right after the governor's announcement, the head of the Republican Party in Colorado, Dick Wadhams, was not so sure.

DICK WADHAMS: The political calculation he had to make with low poll numbers and a very bad national and political environment for Democrats, I think played an even larger role in his decision, in my opinion.

BRADY: Democrats won, not only because they appealed to the third of voters who don't belong to either party. And now, Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli says they're starting to swing back toward the GOP. At the same time, Ciruli says Republicans are uniting around an issue they all can agree on - the economy.

FLOYD CIRULI: They tend to get divided on social issues, but the fiscal issues are a little safer for them. And they're very united at the moment. And Democrats, quite frankly, are now a bit divided and dispirited.

BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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