Friday, 27 August 2010 08:42 by Admin
Ken Buck's views and experience make him "the right man to take on the mess in Washington" as a senator from Colorado, argues John Andrews in the August round of Head On TV debates. And John says the outsider candidacy of Dan Maes for governor, already successful beyond all odds, "might surprise everyone" against John Hickenlooper. But Susan Barnes-Gelt predicts a 20-point blowout for Hickenlooper, along with a narrow win for incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over a trio of tax-cutting ballot issues and the Denver mayor’s animus toward autos. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are the four scripts for August:
1. BUCK OR BENNET FOR US SENATE?
Susan: Mid-term elections typically favor the out-of-power party – for 2010 that’s the R’s. However Colorado is fundamentally moderate, and independent voters will be turned off by Ken Buck’s flip flops and Tea Party sympathies and murky record of integrity. It’ll be close, but Bennet wins.
John: Appointed Senator Michael Bennet has voted in lockstep with Barack Obama and Harry Reid on one awful bill after another – taxes, spending, socialized medicine, and the list goes on. Bennet’s money saved him in the primary, but the revulsion of swing voters toward all things Democratic will doom him in November.
Susan: Michael Bennet is a lot of things: smart, thoughtful, disciplined and experienced. A quick look at his record confirms that he’s neither ultra-liberal – which is why the uber-progressives supported Romanoff – or a knee-jerk follower.
John: Bennet supported Obama on the huge wasteful stimulus. It failed. He supported Obama’s health care takeover. It’s become an embarrassment. Wrong man, wrong message, wrong moment. Ken Buck is tough, principled, sensible, and real. He’s exactly the right man to take on the mess in Washington.
2. THAT WILD GOVERNOR’S RACE
John: Bill Ritter and the Democrats have really failed Colorado. Bad show on the economy, the budget, energy. John Hickenlooper, Mr. Tax Increase, Mr. Sanctuary City, would be no better. Voters are fed up. Hence the Tea Party candidacy of Dan Maes and the maverick move by Tom Tancredo. This is wild.
Susan: Wild? It’s ridiculous. Tom-I’ll quit/you quit Tancredo v. Dan-stranger-to-the-truth Maes are a joke and the very public Hickenlooper endorsement by fiscal conservative Repub’s Mizel, Maffei and Hamilton, is just a drip of the coming deluge. I’m betting Hick wins by 20 points.
John: Colorado is a big diverse state. Coloradans politically tend to be in the center or to the right. A limousine liberal from downtown Denver is the wrong fit for governor. Hickenlooper is defined by tax increases and evasive about his hard-left past. Tancredo will fade. Maes might surprise everyone.
Susan: Operative word – might – Not a chance the guy with a record of failed business enterprises who can’t keep his campaign books straight, who borrows money to pay his mortgage is going to be Colorado’s next guv. Maes, mights, WON’T!
3. HICKENLOOPER VS. THE AUTOMOBILE?
John: The automobile is the greatest freedom machine ever invented. Mayor Hickenlooper’s wacky vision to replace our personal cars and trucks with government transit and bicycles is one more reason he shouldn’t be governor. Colorado doesn’t need fewer roads as the mayor believes. Nor do we need the fatally flawed Fastracks plan.
Susan: Please don’t tell me you agree with Repub candidate Dan Maes belief that Hick’s support of alternative transportation is part of a wacky international left-wing communist scheme. And when did the Mayor say the state needs fewer roads? It’s both and, not either or.
John: According to John Hickenlooper, the mo-ped mayor who wants to be our next green governor, the big question is, quote, “How do we wean ourselves off automobiles?” That’s the same Hickenlooper who already led the metro area into a fiscal sinkhole called Fastracks. I wonder if this guy can even spell “mobility.”
Susan: Hick – is he a limousine liberal, a moped-mayor, a fast-track fanatic or a bike-lane louie? Regardless, he is on the move. Republican candidate Dan Maes can’t get his foot out of his mouth or his campaign in first gear.
5. BALLOT ISSUES 60, 61 & 101
Susan: Colorado voters must vote NO on ballot issues 60, 61 and 101. Deceptive, job killing proposals, devastating to small business and guaranteeing increased K-12 class sizes by halving the amount of property tax allocated to schools. Bi-partisan economists estimate Prop 101 will cut state revenues by $2Billion.
John: Those three tax cut proposals look pretty good to me at a time when ordinary Coloradans could use some relief. 60, 61, and 101 simply restore the fiscal guardrails of TABOR that liberal judges and politicians have pulled down. State replacement is guaranteed for local education dollars. This helps small business.
Susan: And the replacement is . . .? Monopoly money? Are your son, the Denver policeman. These initiatives guarantee job losses, negative business growth, higher unemployment, dismantled higher ed and degraded roads, highways, state parks and public safety. Perhaps access to medical marijuana is too easy?
John: The world economy is gravely threatened by taxes, spending, and mountains of government debt. Colorado is right in the path of that. Those three tax relief measures, 60, 61, and 101, are strong medicine to fight an epidemic that could run our state bankrupt. The fiscal madness has to stop. I’m voting yes.
How convenient, now that Bill Ritter is no longer running for governor and John Hickenlooper is hoping to succeed him, Hick suddenly discovers after months of silence that the incumbent Democrat was "anti-business" in brutalizing the oil and gas industry last year and "crazy" in raising taxes during a recession this year. Meanwhile the Governor obligingly plays his part by voicing annoyance at the Mayor's criticisms. Why should we believe either of them for one moment? Hickenlooper has been a tax-hiker and fee-booster himself during seven years in office. Ritter has already taken one for the team by declining a second term, and now takes another by feigning indignation over the jabs from Hick, while winking to signal that of course he understands a Dem candidate has to run to the center under present circumstances. Hick used a business audience, the South Metro Chamber, as the setting for his phony embrace of free-market realities amid the economic doldrums. Let's not witness the nauseating spectacle of Colorado business again being fooled by a Democrat in 2010 as they were in 2006, when Ritter stole Bob Beauprez's clothes. One of Denver's most seasoned and successful tycoons told me this week he will test Hickenlooper's bona fides with two simple questions, on both of which the Mayor is very unlikely to give a firm yes: (1) Will you roll back the Ritter executive order for unionization of state employees? (2) Will you resist pressure from the White House to stack the 2011 redistricting so Dems are guaranteed five or even six of the state's seven congressional seats for the next decade? This downtown businessman is thinking more a lot clearly than suburban chamber director John Brackney, who gave a Hick a softball introduction before this week's snow job. When you cut through all the soothing talk and play-acting, the bottom line is that (a) our Mayor is not really at odds with our Governor and his job-killing statist agenda and (b) neither our Mayor nor our Governor is prepared to cross their President on any matter of importance. That is to say, a vote for Hickenlooper this fall is a vote for Obama. Surely Colorado's business community won't be so gullible as to go down that road -- again.
Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute, author of the new book Gridlock, spelled out the fiscal folly of Denver's light rail plans at Issue Monday, Feb. 22, hosted by the Centennial Institute at CCU's School of Business. The mounting deficit is obvious as far away as London, where The Economist recently took note of RTD's woes. Yet Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, now a candidate for Governor of Colorado, continues to brag on the project, as noted in this video report from Kelly Maher of the new website WhoSaidYouSaid.com.
After all the Hickenhoopla dies down, Colorado voters may experience a sick feeling of déjà vu as the Denver mayor and Democrat candidate for governor claims that he's "business friendly."
We've been down this campaign trail before, just four years ago, when nice guy Bill Ritter bent over backward to ingratiate himself to every gulliblebusiness organization in the state. Only the most ardent Republicans refused to fall for the fallacy of a business-friendly Democrat, and business leaders and editorial boards across the state have been (deservedly) kicking themselves ever since.
So, here we go again.
Like Ritter, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper comes across as likable. His knack for self-deprecating humor is particularly endearing.
Like Ritter, Hickenlooper seems like the kind of guy whom you would welcome as your next-door neighbor. Neighborliness might indicate he has the skills to shovel snow off your sidewalk -- as Hickenscooper has already demonstrated -- but doesn't equate to "this guy will make a great governor."
Like Ritter, Hickenlooper aims to avoid any serious challenge from within his own party, and that doesn't happen unless labor union bosses are convinced they have a candidate who will do their bidding.
The Denver Post reported that one of Hickenlooper's early testing-the-waters phone calls was to Wally Stealey, retired lobbyist and labor union stalwart, who complained that "labor had been terribly abused by Ritter."
This is the same Ritter whom The Post -- which in 2006 lauded him as "the best choice for Colorado" -- labeled "a toady to labor bosses" and "a bagman for unions and special interests" just one year later.
While Hickenlabor strives mightily to assure union bosses that he will be even better for them (which means worse for Colorado's economy) than was Ritter, will so-called "business leaders" again be duped?
Will they dismiss the costly lessons learned during the past three years?
Will they believe that a candidate who can enthrall hard-core union leaders and hard-left environmentalists will, once elected, throw them under the bus to please the business community?
When Hickenlooper ran for mayor, he ran in a nonpartisan election decided by personal popularity and he benefited from being "anybody but Don Mares." But as Ritter has learned, when Democrats control the legislature, a Democrat governor who vetoes Democrat legislation -- particularly legislation backed by organized labor -- evokes the ire of his party's liberal base.
Remember that four years ago, The Denver Post reported that candidate Bill Ritter "indicated he would be at least as business friendly as Republican Gov. Bill Owens." To prove this, Ritter reviewed the 47 bills that Owens had vetoed in 2005 when sent to him by a decidedly business-hostile Democrat legislature. Ritter claimed that he would have vetoed 38 of those bills.
Despite that tough talk, Gov. Ritter has vetoed eight, seven and four bills, respectively, in his first three years. Out of more than 1,400 billspassed, that's a rubber-stamp rate of 98.7%. And still Big Labor feels "abused."
Did the Democrat-controlled legislature suddenly turn over a business-friendly leaf and cease to do the bidding of labor unions, trial lawyers and anti-capitalists? Hardly.
Quick-witted Republican state chairman Dick Wadhams dubbed the new Democrat governor-in-waiting "Hickenritter" and argued, "There is not a dime's worth of difference between (Ritter and Hickenlooper)."
Colorado voters deserve, Wadhams says, to know which Ritter policies Hickenlooper will overturn:
* Ritter's property tax increase?* Ritter's vehicle fee increase?* Ritter's early release of violent criminals?* Ritter's executive order to unionize state workers?* Ritter's repeal of state spending limits?* Ritter's job killing energy policy?
Hopefully, Colorado voters will insist on firm answers to these tough questions after enduring three -- going on four -- years of a Democrat monopoly at the State Capitol.
After all, voters bought the myth of a business-friendly Democrat and it's cost more than $1 billion higher taxes and fees ‹ all without a public vote.
The old adage says, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
Colorado can't afford to be fooled twice.
Centennial Fellow Mark Hillman served as state treasurer and senate majority leader. To readmore or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com .