By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) - The Trump administration's policy of separating families at the border has put Republican candidates for governor in Colorado in a tough spot.
Only one of them, Doug Robinson, has explicitly opposed the policy. Victor Mitchell and Greg Lopez say it's about enforcing the law, and Walker Stapleton didn't take a stand, saying Congress needs to act.
"Republican candidates have got to find a balance. It's one thing to express legitimate concerns about sanctuary cities and about our immigration policies, but if you come across as a one-issue candidate and not capable of talking about other issues, and if you embrace Trump too much in this state, that could be a liability," said Republican analyst Dick Wadhams.
A recent poll found 43 percent of Republican voters in Colorado think enforcing immigration laws should be the top priority for Colorado's next governor.
But, Wadhams says immigration hardliners are setting themselves up for failure with swing voters in November.
"They've got to show some empathy for those families. I saw a poll this morning that 81 percent of the nation opposes what's going on at the border right now."
Democratic analyst Mike Dino says with Congress is at an impasse, the immigration issue will continue to be front and center in the gubernatorial race.
"If it wasn't the wall, it's now the wall between the parent and the child."
Dino says while nominees often trek to the middle after the primary, there's no walking back support for the separation of families.
"What do you choose? You've got a week from the primary. Do you go with the President and hope it doesn't matter? I think it is something the Democrats will keep reviving on and on and on until November."
But Dino admits Democrats also need to be careful.
"Our electorate is very polarized and so each side has some ammunition on the immigration issue."
Wadhams notes that many of the same voters who oppose separating families also oppose sanctuary cities. He says Democratic candidates have danced around that.
"As usual, Colorado voters are kind of complicated. They're not black and white on these issues. There are a lot of nuances and the Republican candidate who can recognize that is the one who can win a general election. We'll see what happens."
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