Guest Columns

Dems see hopes for West dim in Colorado

By Dick Wadhams
CHAIR, COLORADO REPUBLICANS

This headline is not mine. It appeared on the front page of the New York Times on Sunday, May 9, 2010. But this wasn’t the first news story in the last several months to chronicle Colorado voters rejecting the failed agenda of Barack Obama, Bill Ritter, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet:

— “For Obama and Democrats, Colorado Becoming Less Welcoming,” by Dan Balz of the Washington Post;

— “Losing Their Footing: Amid a Fierce Conservative Backlash, Mountain West Democrats Risk Being Forced to Give Back Some of Their Recent Gains,” by Ron Brownstein of National Journal;

— “Newly Blue Colorado Flirts with Old Flame Red,” by Jeff Brady of National Public Radio;

— “Democrats’ Colorado Gold Rush Turns Into a Bust,” by Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner;

— “West Gets Rocky for Dems,” by Michael Riley of the Denver Post;

— “Democrats’ Rocky Mountain High Takes a Tumble in Colorado,” by Nicholas Riccardi of the Los Angeles Times.

Why are these national news stories remarkably consistent on what is happening in Colorado?

Barack Obama rocketed to the presidency through soaring rhetoric and charisma. Bill Ritter ran for governor as a pro-business moderate. John Hickenlooper created his “brand” as a quirky brewpub owner who transcended politics. Michael Bennet was handed a U.S. Senate seat due to his alleged independence. John Salazar and Betsy Markey masquerade as so-called “blue dog Democrats” who claim to be fiscal conservatives.

Dick Wadhams
Illustration: Matt Milner for The Colorado Statesman

These images defy the reality of how they voted and governed.

Governor Bill Ritter and his Democratic legislative majorities passed a $1.7 billion property tax increase without a vote of the people as required under our TABOR law. They increased vehicle registration fees without a vote of the people. They released violent felons early from their sentences. They imposed job-killing tax increases on struggling Colorado small businesses. They handed over state government to union bosses. They rammed through job-killing regulations on energy production in rural Colorado. They concocted a secret plan to weaken Colorado’s election laws opening the door to ACORN-like election fraud.

And then, as their final act in the waning hours of the 2010 legislative session, they allowed a Denver Democrat to sneak through an amendment to weaken sex offender laws without any hearings or public comment.

But at least Governor Ritter and Democratic legislators took a stand on these failed policies. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper either refuses to reveal or is incapable of revealing where he stands on any of these failed policies. Remarkably, the presumed Democratic nominee for governor said he thought it was inappropriate to comment on issues being debated in the state Legislature. Huh?

Hickenlooper thinks he can quirk his way to the governor’s office by just being the fun lovin’ brew pub owner who can avoid revealing where he stands on the issues.

Hickenlooper can run but he can’t hide from his own record of raising taxes by $290 million and creating a hostile business environment that drove hundreds of Frontier Airlines jobs out of state.

If you liked the failed tenure of Bill Ritter, you’d love John “Hickenritter.”

Accidental Senator Michael Bennet stumbled his way into a U.S. Senate seat on the power of one vote: Bill Ritter’s. Since returning to his hometown of Washington, D.C. where he attended the exclusive, private St. Alban’s School and worked in the Clinton Administration, Bennet has dutifully done what Harry Reid has told him to do.

Bennet voted for the failed stimulus bill that drove unemployment to nearly 10 percent after Barack Obama promised it would stay below 8 percent. Bennet turned a blind eye to the Obama Administration’s bribery and intimidation and voted for the health care monstrosity. Bennet supports the cap and trade national energy tax increase.

In the meantime, Betsy Markey and John Salazar enthusiastically voted for the failed stimulus bill but went into the cone of silence during the cap and trade national energy tax debate. Despite representing districts with large numbers of ranchers, farmers and small businesses, they both refused to reveal their positions until they went to the House floor and actually voted.

Markey finally sided with the environmental extremists who spent millions on her behalf in 2008 and whom many believe threatened to walk away from her campaign in 2010 if she did not vote for the national energy tax increase. Salazar finally voted no on the House floor but refused to offer leadership in opposing the bill in advance. Ultimately, both of these fiscal frauds failed their districts and are complicit in the passage of the national energy tax increase.

While Salazar was consistent in voting twice for the health care monstrosity after holding no town meetings to hear his constituents’ clear opposition to it, Markey pulled a John Kerry and voted against the health care bill before voting for it. And once again, leftist money came pouring into Markey’s campaign.

At least Ed Perlmutter is an unapologetic liberal in the tradition of Diana DeGette and Jared Polis. Nancy Pelosi never has to worry where Ed is going to come down!

Barack Obama, Bill Ritter, John Hickenlooper and their legislative majorities have forced a great debate on the size, scope, cost and power of government, both federal and state.

Republicans in the state Legislature and the Congress have almost unanimously opposed the failed policies of President Obama and Governor Ritter while offering fiscally responsible alternatives that restrain the growth of government.

One thing is for sure. That heady night at Invesco Field on August 28, 2008 is a distant, irrelevant memory in 2010.