The following article originally was published March 5 by Grand Junction’sFree Press.
Races for governor, U.S. Senate getting heated
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
While most of us celebrated Valentine’s Day last month, the motto in Colorado’s political races seemed to be “make war, not love.” With the general election still eight months away, campaign season is already in full swing, complete with bitter attack ads.
The big news in the governor’s race involves the net tax increases signed by Bill Ritter. Tim Hoover of the Denver Post summarizes the measures at http://tinyurl.com/rittertax.
We are particularly concerned about the tax hikes on industrial energy, software, and internet sales. While the economy is showing some signs of recovery, it remains a mess, and this is an especially lousy time to punish businesses. Democrats are all but begging certain businesses and entrepreneurs to fire people, flee the state, or refrain from moving here.
While Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (the Democrat trying to replace Ritter) sat on his hands, Republican Scott McInnis admirably fought against the tax insanity. He said in a media release, “By signing these bills, Governor Ritter is essentially signing the pink slips of thousands of Colorado workers.” The Democrats have handed their challengers plenty of ammunition heading into November.
Taxes have also become a big issue in the U.S. Senate race. While Jane Norton remains the clear Republican frontrunner, her opponents have stepped up criticism. Challenger Tom Wiens ran a radio ad stating, “Right here in Colorado, some Republican leaders backed Referendum C, the biggest tax increase in our state’s history. I opposed it.” Norton was among those “Republican leaders.”
Yet at least Referendum C asked for voter approval, unlike Ritter’s hikes, as Norton has countered. (Check out ClearTheBenchColorado.com, which is urging non-retention of four Supreme Court justices in part because of their betrayal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Last month we were also blessed by a visit from His Chosenness Barack Obama. The reason for his visit is apparent: Democratic Senator Michael “The Pretender” Bennet is in deep trouble. (Perhaps Obama will provide the same benefit to Bennet that he gave to Martha Coakley out in Massachusetts.
To review, back in 2004 Ken Salazar trounced Pete Coors in the U.S. Senate race. In 2008, Obama asked Salazar to become Secretary of the Interior. It fell to Governor Ritter to fill the vacancy. Ritter stupidly snubbed experienced legislator Andrew Romanoff and instead picked Bennet. So, presumably, Obama feels partly responsible for turning a solidly Democratic Senate seat into a likely GOP victory.
Bennet, while a good fundraiser, is otherwise a terrible candidate. Democratic leaders who want a shot at winning had better hope that Romanoff wins the primary. Not only has Romanoff beat Bennet in the polls, but he has picked up major endorsements from state legislators and various unions. (Bennet has also been touting his union support, which is a good indication of why Democrats risk losing the seat.)
On the Republican side, Wiens’s ad may actually help Norton. We had always thought of Norton’s strongest challenger as Ken Buck, but he has not run a very exciting campaign, and he has some baggage as Weld County’s District Attorney for raiding a business on a records fishing expedition and for invoking “hate crime” laws, which remain unpopular with Republicans.
By running relatively strong campaigns, Wiens and Cleve Tidwell may split the opposition to Norton, leaving her an even stronger frontrunner.
When Obama came to Colorado, Norton made headlines by running a television ad in which she said, “Mr. President, you should pledge to balance the budget, or else decline to seek reelection. That’d be change we can believe in.”
However, when discussing the ad on Fox, Norton also said the recent Congressional jobs bill “was too small.” Norton’s spokesperson Nate Strauch said that what Norton meant was that “the impact was too small, not the price-tag was too small,” but that leaves us wondering what sort of bill she thinks would have a bigger impact. Strauch mentioned the possibility of “suspending the payroll tax for small businesses,” but absent spending cuts we don’t see what good that would do.
At least Tidwell answered our survey at http://tinyurl.com/cosurvey10. On the plus side, he opposes so-called “stimulus” spending and corporate welfare. He calls for “dramatically lower” federal spending. He wants to reduce the jobs-killing minimum wage, and he said the anti-business Sarbanes-Oxley law should be repealed. He also wants to repeal campaign censorship laws and rescind FTC blogger controls.
We worry about some of Tidwell’s views. He wants to restrict legal immigration as a protectionist measure. On matters of abortion, he punted to state control. We worry about that, because we believe the federal government has a legitimate role to play in protecting the individual rights of citizens, such as a woman’s right to take the birth control pill even though it may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
We respect Tidwell’s efforts to articulate his views, and we hope voters will press every candidate to answer the tough questions in this pivotal election year.