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For Colorado Voters, The Economy And Pandemic Are Issues At The Forefront

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So much has happened since last Friday, when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Today, this Friday, she becomes the first woman to lie in state at the United States Capitol. The debate over her replacement, of course, has far advanced. And Bente Birkeland from Colorado Public Radio has been asking voters what they think of it all.

BENTE BIRKELAND, BYLINE: A few dozen Democratic activists gathered outside Denver's federal courthouse on Monday to honor the legal icon and champion for women's equality. They also railed against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is in a tight race for reelection and has since said he supports filling the court's vacancy.

KELLY MAYR: As long as Cory Gardner has been a senator, I've spent most of that time chasing him around to hold him accountable.

BIRKELAND: One of the rally's attendees was Democratic volunteer Kelly Mayr. She's the mother of five daughters and says this vacancy is helping them understand what's at stake.

MAYR: This makes you really go, my gosh, we could lose rights.

MAYR: Mayr hopes the coming nomination fight translates to votes for Joe Biden. But she worries it could also energize conservatives.

MAYR: I'm a little terrified it could. I am.

BIRKELAND: But away from the rallies, it's not yet clear how much it'll be on the minds of less politically active voters. After Ginsburg's death, none of the voters I talked to brought up the Supreme Court as an important issue for them right now. Twenty-five-year-old Kadoranne Turner says she's most worried about how the country recovers from the coronavirus. She lost her job in March and says she won't back Trump.

KADORANNE TURNER: I'm very disappointed because, A, all of the lies, B, all of the insanity.

BIRKELAND: Turner says she's also focused on combating racism and discrimination. And she's not sold on Biden, either.

TURNER: I don't know what Biden can handle because he has not shown me anything that he has handled.

BIRKELAND: Thirty-two-year-old Jesse Aguilar says he's not worried about the Supreme Court when he's struggling to make rent. He cleans houses and says because of the pandemic, he's lost more than half of his income.

JESSE AGUILAR: I was to a point where I was, like, getting stable where I didn't need no assistance from the government. And now it's, like - boom - even more, like, trying to get all the assistance I can.

BIRKELAND: Trump supporter Amy Carlson says the vacancy doesn't change anything for her either. The mother of two likes the president's tough stance on China and trade. She's bracing for a bruising confirmation fight, similar to what happened with Trump's last nominee to the Supreme Court.

AMY CARLSON: Trump's going to do his job, and I know the Democrats are going to do everything they can to prevent him from doing his job.

BIRKELAND: There's not much Democrats can do. They don't have enough votes in the U.S. Senate to stop Trump from putting his nominee on the Supreme Court. One question is how much the political fight will impact the Senate race here. For now, voters say they're most concerned with day-to-day survival.

For NPR News, I'm Bente Birkeland in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF WE CAME FROM THE NORTH'S "TALL CRUISE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.