President of the senate Sen. Stephen Fenberg bangs the gavel during the last day of the legislative session on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, at the Capitol building in Denver. (Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

Midterm congressional elections typically don’t go well for the party in power, especially the one that’s in charge at the White House. And that’s even when the country isn’t facing soaring crime and a tanking economy — as it is now.

Security and prosperity are two essentials that a lot of voters take for granted. Disappoint them, and many readily will consider a change on the next ballot. Fairly or not, they tend to blame those in power. Unaffiliated voters, by far the biggest bloc of the electorate in Colorado, have even less reason to stick with the status quo as the economy stumbles and crime rises.

The news on both fronts just keeps getting worse.

As reported by The Gazette last week, Colorado business leaders overwhelmingly believe the U.S. economy either has entered a recession already or will do so by 2023. That’s according to the latest Leeds Business Confidence Index survey from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. By week’s end, CNBC was reporting that it is increasingly likely the U.S. economy already is mired in recession after shrinking for two quarters in a row.

While many Colorado businesses responding to the Leeds survey say they still are hiring and generally are more optimistic about our state’s economy than the nation’s, Colorado’s own economic growth is slowing quickly — and getting slammed by inflation.

“When you have price increases, leading to cost increases, which lead to more price increases, you get that kind of spiraling piece that's potentially out there,” Richard Wobbekind, senior economist and faculty director for the Leeds Business Research Division, told The Gazette.

Meanwhile, crime statistics that have been startling Coloradans at least since last year are continuing to mount. This week, for example, news site The Center Square reported that auto theft is up 18% year to date — in a state that already led the nation in stolen cars at the outset of 2022.

It’s the latest installment in a depressing saga of crime statistics chronicled in a groundbreaking report released late last year by Colorado’s Common Sense Institute. Among the lowlights: Violent crime rose 35% from 2011 to last year. The state’s crime rate for 2021 was the highest since 1994. Colorado’s 2020 murder rate was 106% higher than in 2011. Assault was up 40% in that same time. Rape was 9% higher.

With Democrats in control of the presidency, both chambers of Congress and almost all statewide offices in Colorado, including both of its U.S. Senate seats, it’s no wonder they’re nervous.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and fellow Democrats at the legislature announced amid fanfare that checks rebating surplus state revenue to taxpayers will arrive in the mail starting in August. Although the refunds are actually required by the state constitution, they’re being touted as the “Colorado Cash Back Rebate,” intended to help struggling Coloradans make ends meet.

“We are providing real relief when Coloradans need it most," Gov. Jared Polis said of the refunds last last month. You could almost see the sweat beading up on his forehead in advance of what will be a trying campaign season for his party.

Similarly, ruling Democrats at the legislature sought throughout the spring session to rebrand almost every other bill as a measure that somehow will fight crime. That’s after they did so much over the past few years to enact criminal-coddling, get-out-of-jail laws that served to drive up Colorado’s skyrocketing rates of violent and property crime in the first place.

Democrats know they have some explaining to do. The news isn’t helping.

Denver Gazette editorial board

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