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6th Congressional District Race
The anniversary of the Columbine tragedy has put a spotlight on Colorado's 6th Congressional District race between Republican incumbent Tom Tancredo and Democrat challenger Ken Toltz. As part of its coverage, CNN featured the race and one of its top issues: gun control.

In the April 12 CNN report, pollster Floyd Ciruli said, "As the home of Columbine High School, nearing the first anniversary of the tragedy, gun control will be the top issue in the race." Ciruli noted that "the district leans Republican, but 34 percent of the voters are unaffiliated and many Republican voters strongly support proposed gun control measures."

The April 12 CNN special on 6th Congressional District featured the impact of Columbine on the gun control debate.

CNN Anchor Wolfe Blitzer opened the piece by calling Colorado's 6th Congressional District "ground zero" for the national gun debate. Pollster Floyd Ciruli pointed out the importance of the gun issue due to the "6th district being the home of Columbine High School as it nears the first anniversary of the tragedy."

While the district leans Republican the race will be hard-fought, and Republican incumbent Tom Tancredo must run an effective campaign. "How Tancredo manages the gun control issue will decide if he can get into the mainstream of a moderate Republican district or be vulnerable to the label ‘insensitive' or ‘extremist.'"

However, Ciruli pointed out Democrats need to be cautious about how they use the horrific image of Columbine. "Democrats including President Clinton must be cautious using Columbine for their own agenda. The public is very sensitive to politicians exploiting the issue."

Ciruli cited the following factors that will influence the race:
Good News For Democrats
  • Tom Tancredo is on the right wing of his party in a moderate Republican district.
  • 34% of voters are unaffiliated.
  • Tancredo won only 25% of vote in 1998 primary
  • Gun issue is important - most people support closing loopholes and safety regulations.
  • Ken Toltz is positioning himself as a new Democrat.
  • He will raise significant funds. National Democrats will target seat.
Good News For Republicans
  • Tancredo runs a strong campaign. He has support of party leaders and religious conservatives.
  • He will raise more than $500,000.
  • No Democrat in 18 years has received more than 42%.
  • District supported Dole by six points in 1996 (Dole won the state by 2%) and Bush by one point in 1992 (Clinton won the state by 4%).
  • Tancredo is trying to neutralize the gun issue by voting for regulations acceptable to the NRA.
  • National Republican party will target the district.

What do you think about gun control?
Cast your vote

Rocky Mountain News May 1, 2000

"This is a race where a half-million is the absolute floor - and it looks like its going to wind up to be a case where each candidate raises a million" said political consultant and pollster Floyd Ciruli to the Rocky Mountain News.

"This is going to be like the 2nd Congressional District (two years ago, when spending exceeded the $3 million mark)."

FEC Report
Latest Quarter - Funds Raised
Congressional Dist. Democrats Republicans
1st CD Degette $315,000 -
2nd CD Udall - $655,000 -
3rd CD - McInnis $533,000
4th CD - Schaffer 11,000
5th CD - Hefley 8,000
6th CD Toltz 400,000 Tancredo 588,000

Somewhat surprising is the large sums of money raised by incumbents with no real challengers. Republican Scott McInnis and Democrat Mark Udall both raised more than half a million dollars in the most recent reporting period.

"Money isn't just for campaigning," Ciruli said. "Over the last decade, the definition of what to do with money is different. Money can be banked for a future race. You can use it to help other candidates to build good will."

"And if you're ambitious and want to be a player in this state - an individual with political clout - being able to raise money and have a good war chest are very important tools."


©2000 Ciruli Associates.
All rights reserved.