‘No!’ was on voters’ minds when it came to weighing in on ballot measures

But Supreme Court judges rate 'thumbs up'

By Marianne Goodland
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Voters Tuesday night gave a resounding “no!” to eight of the nine measures on the 2010 ballot, but an enthusiastic “thumbs up” to retaining Supreme Court and appeals court judges.

The effort by Doug Bruce to get voter approval for more tax cuts failed by large margins Tuesday.

With about 97 percent of the state’s 3,387 precincts tallied, according to The Denver Post, Amendment 60 was losing by a three to one margin, Amendment 61 was losing 73 percent to 27 percent, and Proposition 101 was losing by 67.7 percent to 32.2 percent.

While Bruce was never formally identified as the backer of the measures by campaign committees, he admitted his foundation, Active Citizens Together, put $100,000 to $200,000 into the petition drive that resulted in the measures getting on the ballot. Bruce, the father of TABOR, was identified as the measures’ primary backer by a Denver court judge.

All the other numbered ballot measures received the same fate from Colorado voters on Tuesday.

Amendment 62, the “personhood” amendment, lost for the second time in the last two election cycles. The amendment was losing by a 70.5 to 29.4 percent margin, only slightly better than it did in 2008 when it garnered 26 percent of the vote.

Keith Mason, director of Personhood USA, said in a statement Wednesday that they will keep trying to get the amendment passed. Mason pointed out that the 2010 version gained more votes on Tuesday than it had in 2008. “We take from this example that we must not, and will not, ever stop trying to protect every human being in the state of Colorado. We will continue until we succeed,” added Gualberto Garcia-Jones of Personhood Colorado, co-sponsor of Amendment 62.

Fofi Mendez, director of the “No on 62” campaign, told The Colorado Statesman Thursday “what part of ‘no’ do they not understand?” She pointed out that anti-choice amendments have been rejected by Colorado voters four times since 1998. “The voters have clearly spoken,” she said; they don’t want bans on abortions, birth control pills or even certain types of infertility treatments that could have been prohibited under Amendment 62.

Amendment 63, which sought to take Colorado out of federal health care reform legislation, also failed to win voter approval, although by a much closer margin than any other ballot measure. With 88 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was losing 52.9 percent to 47 percent.

Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, which sponsored the measure, told supporters in a Friday e-mail that voters may have mistaken their amendment for one of the anti-tax amendments. Voters were told by “endless radio and TV ads to vote ‘no’ on some of the amendments in the 60s, just vote ‘no’ on all the numbers. I am fully convinced that if we were given the ballot number ‘73’ instead of ‘63’ we would have won comfortably,” Caldara said.

Proposition 102, which would make getting bail harder for first-time offenders, also was soundly rejected by voters. With 74 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was losing, 62.2 percent to 37.7 percent.

A statement from the “No on 102” campaign, issued Tuesday night, said “We are thrilled that Colorado voters clearly rejected the out-of-state bail bonds industry’s attempt to use our ballot process as a money-making venture. Voters have stood up to this special interest group, and have sent a strong message that Colorado taxpayers have no interest in funding a ‘bail out the bail bonds industry.’”

Finally, three referred measures from the General Assembly on the Nov. 2 ballot were decided by voters, with two being rejected. Amendment P, which would move regulation of bingo games from the secretary of state to the Department of Revenue, was losing on a 62.3 percent to 37.6 percent vote. Amendment R, dealing with property tax exemptions for small properties, also was losing, and also on the 61.7 percent to 8.2 percent margin. Voters did approve Amendment Q, which creates a temporary seat of government in an emergency, on a 57 percent to 43 percent margin.

Voters also rejected an effort to vote out three Supreme Court judges and four judges on the Colorado Court of Appeals. Justices Alex Martinez, Michael Bender and Nancy Rice all won retention votes by wide margins, according to unofficial results. The same was true for Court of Appeals Judges David Richman, John Dailey, Nancy Lictenstein and Richard Gabriel, who won all retention votes by almost a two to one margin.

The effort to oust the judges was led by Clear the Bench Colorado. Executive Director Matt Arnold said Wednesday the “other side” had spent money illegally to support the judges, and his resources got tied up in “frivolous lawsuits.” He attacked an editorial run in The Denver Post from former Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky that supported the judges, which Arnold said was full of “falsehoods.”

However, Arnold said his efforts got more people to pay attention to the issue of judicial retention than had ever happened before. Justices and judges got the most “no” votes on retention in history, with most around 40 percent. “It shows what can be done with raising awareness,” Arnold said. “If nothing else, what I’ve done is sparked attention to the issue, and I’m encouraged by it and by those who paid attention.” But in the end, “David didn’t have enough stones against Goliath.”

Marianne@coloradostatesman.com