('76 Editor) The emails from two US Senate candidates arrived the same day. First it was Republican Tom Wiens boasting of a new poll that shows he would top both Democrats, Sen. Michael Bennet and former Speaker Andrew Romanoff, if the 2010 election were held today.
Then it was Romanoff crowing that he tops all comers from both parties in a Denver Business Journal poll. I was intrigued enough to click the links, but upon doing so, I learned there's more to the story in both cases.
Romanoff didn't mention that his DBJ triumph came in an unscientific reader-initiated straw poll, where some 1600 self-selected (or candidate-prompted) respondents took part.
Wiens didn't mention that his encouraging news came in context with overall results in a Rasmussen survey (randomly sampled and scientific, at least) where both of the other GOP contenders, Jane Norton and Ken Buck, ran stronger against both Democrats than he did.
Here is the DBJ straw poll tally on Colorado Senate 2010:
Andrew Romanoff - 29% Tom Wiens - 20% Jane Norton - 18% Michael Bennet - 13% Ken Buck - 8% Undecided and other - 11%
Below is the Rasmussen poll on Colorado Senate 2010, with interpretive text from Real Clear Politics.
After President Obama won Colorado last year, many believed the state was trending blue. However, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D), appointed this year to fill the vacant seat, trails three potential Republican opponents in a new Rasmussen poll (Dec. 8, 500 LV, MoE +/- 4.5%).
Bennet's favorable rating remains low, with 39% viewing him favorably and 46% unfavorably. All three Republicans -- Jane Norton, Tom Wiens and Ken Buck -- also lead Bennet's primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff.
Norton 45 - Romanoff 34Norton 46 - Bennet 37Wiens 41 - Romanoff 40Wiens 42 - Bennet 41Buck 41 - Romanoff 39Buck 42 - Bennet 38
(Denver Post, Dec. 6) All that is covered shall be revealed, promises the Good Book. It’s the perfect motto for America’s open society. Secrets are fools’ gold. Leaks will out. Thanks to a leaker at East Anglia University, we now know climate change isn’t cooking the planet after all. Climate alarmists are cooking the data.
Meanwhile in Colorado, leakers are heating up the governor’s race. A week after the election, someone scooped Josh Penry’s plan to end his candidacy against Gov. Bill Ritter. A week later, someone else scooped Scott McInnis’s plan to unify Republicans around an issue contract. I’ve got this week’s leak.
A confidential memo from inside the McInnis campaign showed up under my doormat. The authors call themselves the Skunk Works. The address line says, “Eyes Only: Mighty Mac,” and the subject reads: “The Carter Question and the Treaty of Fifth Avenue.” This is pure journalistic catnip, Pulitzer-quality stuff. Let me quote:
“Boss, to say you had a good November would be like saying Elway could pass a little. Last month was terrific. Overnight you’re the consensus nominee, endorsed by past and present GOP icons from Owens to Tancredo to Penry, and your Platform for Prosperity puts Republicans on offense with all three big issues – jobs, jobs, and jobs. Plus the platform’s tough stance on taxes, spending, illegal aliens, and crime erases your Washington taint as an ex-congressman.
“Ritter is now the one weighed down with Beltway baggage and on the defensive for his linkage to an Obama stimulus that didn’t stimulate. With total jobs in Colorado actually below 2006 levels, you can score big next fall with the old Jimmy Carter question on whether voters are better off than four years ago. Obviously not, so it’s time for Mac at quarterback.
“But since our job as Skunkers is to pipe in reality, not spin flattery, here’s the other side. With this new platform appearing to be written for you by powerful rivals, you’re in the awkward position of Nixon in 1960 when his issues were dictated by Rockefeller. Divisions over the so-called ‘Treaty of Fifth Avenue’ helped defeat the ticket. We need to change the 2010 story line, and fast.
“The potential winning message of the Platform for Prosperity is threatened by party grumbling and PR vulnerability. Pundits, both left and right, scoff that our agenda is too vague to attract swing voters. Many of the GOP faithful are saying we prefer insider manipulation instead of inclusiveness. Some worry that you won’t run hard on the platform, or fight for it if elected. What’s the McInnis response?
“To quiet the complaints on process, do three things. Hold grassroots platform hearings with Republicans across the state. Let assembly delegates choose your Lieutenant Governor, possibly Dan Maes. And gain endorsements from Bob Schaffer and Bob Beauprez at whatever cost, finally healing the breach from your ’06 and ’08 jabs at them.
“As for issues, Skunkers say go full throttle. Dramatize your platform with specifics. For job creation, pledge to zero out the corporate income tax. Colorado would boom! Roll out ballot issues to fortify TABOR and to let health insurers from any state write coverage here. Dare the legislature next spring to pass a top-10 list of prosperity bills. Call for voting down at least one member of our constitution-shredding Supreme Court, perhaps labor hack Michael Bender.
“Remember, Boss – McCain lost the presidency partly because millions of people feared his moderate mushiness would doom American conservatism if he won. If we don’t catch the wave of tea parties and townhalls, that could be your political obituary as well. But channel your inner Palin the next 300 days, and Ritter’s job is yours!”
('76 Contributor) All the recent talk about the need to build the GOP up into a permanent philosophical “Big Tent” to accommodate both liberals and conservatives in the wake of the Congressional election in District 23 in New York State earlier this month reminded me of the reasoning put forward by John Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism about the injudiciousness of allowing liberal and conservative preachers to co-exist within evangelical churches. In his book, published in 1923, the influential American Presbyterian theologian deplored what he described as the “obvious weakness” of churches doctrinally rooted in the authority of the Bible and faith in “the redeeming work of Christ”. Far from blaming such weakness on steadfast adherence to early Christian creedal principles, Machen ascribed it instead to “the admission of great companies of persons who have never made any really adequate confession of faith at all and whose entire attitude toward the gospel is the very reverse of the Christian attitude.” Machen dismissed accusations of “narrowness” at the core of his thinking by emphasizing the notion that “the Christian brotherhood is open without distinction to all” and that “the Christian man seeks to bring all men in” as befits the evangelical mission of the Church based on loyalty to Christ. However, fully aware of the risks involved in too much doctrinal open-mindedness for the sake of artificially filling pews, Machen warned that “nothing engenders strife so much as a forced unity, within the same organization, of those who disagree fundamentally in aim.” Parallels with the strategic, philosophical, and political quandary in which the GOP finds itself right now are easy to draw. As Deirdre Scozzafava’s decision to endorse her former Democrat opponent, Bill Owens, at the expense of conservative and Republican interests in District 23 illustrates to some extent, differences between liberals and conservatives within the GOP appear to be irreconcilable on many counts and hold America hostage to Democrat ill-fated policies. Again, where conservatism is concerned, the solution leads back to Ronald Reagan. In his address to CPAC on March 1st, 1975, Reagan explained that “a political party cannot be all things to all people.” Echoing J. Gresham Machen’s insight, Reagan went on to insist on the idea that a party “must represent certain beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency or simply to swell its numbers.” To be sure, Reagan believed in the “Big Tent” principle but to him, the concept was valid only so long as those who came in had first converted to conservatism. The voters who actually did so in 1980 and 1984, albeit transiently and mainly in response to Reagan’s charisma, are known today as “Reagan Democrats” and they are still looking for a permanent philosophical and political home. The time has come for American conservative leaders to follow in J. Gresham Machen’s and Ronald Reagan’s strategic footsteps and start thinking creatively about how best to meet the demand of growing numbers of American voters for more conservative orthodoxy. Glenn Beck may well be giving them a few clues as to what to do next.
(Centennial Fellow) What sets America apart from other countries is the extraordinary reservoir of idealism that has been a constant in our national life from the very beginning. The national narrative-a.k.a. The American Dream- has always been about individuals and groups who achieved remarkable things against great odds. Cynics for whom the glass is always half empty call the dream a myth but Americans know better for they have seen it fulfilled in their own lives or those of others for generations. Throughout our history the stories of Horatio Alger, Abraham Lincoln and countless others have reinforced our belief in the boundless potential of the common man and our deep conviction that such aspirations are no relic of the past but rather a living legacy for our children and grandchildren. A parallel theme to this American idealism is a recurring naivete in our initial assessments of politicians who seek to be our leaders. Through endless elections we have seen the triumph of hope over experience in our susceptibility to slogans like “ ending business as usual or “eliminating waste in government” or “driving out the special interests”. We tend to believe that if ordinary Americans can do extraordinary things then it is quite reasonable to expect politicians to deliver on their promises. Accordingly new Presidents invariably enter office with high approval ratings and even higher expectations. A corollary to these themes of idealism and naivete is that when the politicians fail to deliver results or worse do things that contradict their promises we commonly feel disappointment, even anger, a sense of betrayal, and a righteous determination to punish those who have proved themselves unworthy of our trust (i.e. “Throw the Bums Out”) The speed with which the people can turn on their elected leaders is in direct proportion to how high the initial approval ratings and how wide the subsequently perceived gap between expectations and performance. In accord with the above political axioms America is now at the mid-point of one of the most dramatic transformations in all of our history. While the truth of this assertion cannot be fully known until at least November 2010, already the extraordinary events of 2009 culminating in the recent elections and the imminent climax of the proposed health care revolution give abundant evidence that a decisive turning point in our nation's history is at hand. In the day following his narrow election in the tumultuous year of 1968 Richard Nixon told the story of the little girl who asked him to “Bring Us Together”. While that mission didn't end too well for Nixon, nonetheless that little girl's three words represented an enduring aspiration and expectation that Americans have for all their Presidents. In 2004 a relatively unknown Barack Obama electrified the Democratic convention by insisting that there should be “ no blue states or red states, but only United States of America” Four years later candidate Obama-aided by the Perfect Storm of an unpopular war, a more unpopular President, and an apparently collapsing economy- with rare eloquence offered Americans the shining vision of a “post-partisan America” where old wounds racial and otherwise would be healed and the country would be “positively transformed”. That vision and the visionary that inspired the nation on that sunny January Inauguration Day seemed almost too good to be true. And so it has proved. Barack Obama's first year approval ratings though still respectable have fallen further faster than any other President in over half a century. Support for his ambitious agenda has plummeted even more precipitously. Instead of the promised “post-partisan” America our body politic is more polarized than at any time since the Vietnam /Watergate era. The frighteningly unprecedented explosion of deficits, and the national debt so threatening to future generations and the vast societal redesign inherent in both Obamacare and Cap and Trade is not the “positively transformed” America that people thought they were being promised in the 2008 campaign. Only events of the next twelve months punctuated by the mid-term elections will accurately measure the forces of political disaffection now clearly moving across the nation. Nonetheless current polling reveals growing majorities opposed to the “extreme makeover” of healthcare, seeing the country as on the “wrong track”, and deeply concerned about runaway spending and debt. All this spells certain trouble for those who currently rule the political roost. What is equally certain is that just one year ago no one foresaw this extraordinary turn of events.
William Moloney's columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, U.S.A. Today, Washington Post,Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun , Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post.
('76 Editor) Again at the Senate candidates forum on Tuesday, as happened at the gubernatorial forum last week, CCU’s big audience of students, faculty, and friends posed far more questions than we had time for. Here is a full transcript. Panelists’ questions appear after this list of 56.
1. What is your justification for the discrepancy between health care benefits Senators have and those planned for the U.S. citizens who put them in office? What happened to government of the people, by the people and for the people?
2. Name the three best speakers (presidents) in history, and why does it matter?
3. What is your position on illegal immigration and maintaining border security?
4. President Obama has terribly mismanaged the war in Afghanistan. As U.S. Senator, how will you hold the administration accountable to ensure a dignified victory in Afghanistan?
5. How do you reach out to unaffiliated voters and convince them to trust a Republican again?
6. If elected, you will make an oath to God to uphold and defend the Constitution. Do you intend to fulfill this oath, or will you vote for unconstitutional bills?
7. When party discipline starts to divert you from appropriate change, how will you “stay on course”?
8. Over 70% of inmates in Colorado prisons have mental health and/or addiction issues. Prisons are now being called the new asylums. If no new prisons are to be built, with Ft. Logan closing and inmates releasing early, what policies will you support to ensure public safety while allowing access to needed mental health services?
9. Why is the federal government creating a health care bill when health, education and welfare belong to the states? Democracy is more rule – this is a republic!
10. If elected, would you vote to perpetuate or end the wars in the Middle East? If voting to continue the wars, how would you propose to pay for them?
11. What distinguishes you from your opponents?
12. As Senator, where would your stance concerning the U.S. support of Israel as a nation be?
13. How will our government function if servicing our national debt takes a huge portion of government revenues when interest rates increase to double digits or higher?
14. Article I, Section 8 states the powers delegated by the states to Congress. As a U.S. Senator, will you balance proposed legislation against these specific powers, or reach beyond as dictated by necessity?
15. Do you support a flat tax?
16. How would you push forward auditing the Federal Reserve and stopping the printing of money?
17. How do you plan on reducing spending in the U.S. government and cutting the U.S. deficit?
18. Do you believe the U.S. should remain a sovereign nation? Or join with Canada and Mexico?
19. Would you barter your votes or stick to representing Colorado?
20. How important is your faith in God in your life?
21. What are your views on abortion and homosexual marriage?
22. How do you reign in excessive profit and executive compensation without over-regulation?
23. In light of internal and external pressures on our national sovereignty (by some members of SCOTUS and by even treaties such as KYOTO, International Court, Law of the Seas and the upcoming Copenhagen Treaty), what specifically will you do to defend our Constitution and bring us back to a strong defense of our sovereignty?
24. Our dollar is in free fall, what would you propose to remedy out of control spending and the damage done by the fractional reserve system?
25. What are your views on how to decrease American dependence on foreign oil?
26. In an effort to bring jobs to Colorado, would you support the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site?
27. What restrictions should be placed on the sale of firearms to law abiding citizens?
28. What steps do you recommend to remove the abortion prevision from the Senate version of the health care legislation?
29. As our next U.S. Senator, what committee would be your top choice and why?
30. None of you will have the opportunity to vote on President Obama’s health care bill this year. What sort of health care reform would you support, and would it include a public option?
31. Will you please apologize for supporting Referendum “C”? Please.
32. How do you plan to deal with entitlement programs as it attracts many voters?
33. What is your strategy to expand the base of diversity to the Colorado Republican Party? Look at the demographics of those that attended this debate.
34. In 2008, Colorado sent 48.2 billion to the IRS and received back 38.1 billion in government services from the federal government. How you close this gap?
35. Tidwell said that the war is unconstitutional. Please explain.
36. Is there really a health care crisis? Is ObamaCare constitutional?
37. Please comment on the inclusion of illegals, abortion and cost in the health care bill?
38. What three personal qualities will best serve you in the U.S. Senate?
39. How would you improve the nation’s health care system?
40. How do we keep the Copenhagen Treaty from being signed in December by Obama?
41. Have you ever supported a tax increase on Coloradans?
42. If you were now in the Senate, would you vote for the pending health care bill? Why or why not?
43. What are the top five leadership traits you believe each U.S. Senate elected official needs to have.
44. Inspire me. What’s your vision for Colorado? Why should I follow your vision?
45. No one likes the idea of increased taxes, but all need to be fiscally responsible, especially when the deficit has been raising. What are your plans for decreasing this problem, and has anyone looked at a value added tax?
46. Did you vote for referendum C & D? Why or why not?
47. What part of “prospective immigrant” (illegal alien) play in our national security? Especially after the appointment by President Obama?
48. What do you have to say about the role of government with regards to health care reform?
49. What do you have to say about the role of government with regards to health care reform?
50. How do you intend to convince us (Coloradans) that you are not the representative of an aisle crossing Arizona Senator and inside-the-beltway Republican power brokers?
51. What is your Pinon Canyon position?
52. Will you have the fortitude and confidence to stand on your principles when faced with potential political backlash?
53. Ken Buck has urged Michael Bennet to support Senate Bill 604. This Bill would authorize Congress to conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve, the first in nearly 97 years. Do you believe the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies that destroy the value of Americans’ savings bare any responsibility for the current or previous recessions? Do you think this organization that is printing untold trillions of dollars should be allowed to do so in complete secrecy? Will you support Senate Bill 604?
54. George Bush was successful in the 2000 election partly for running on a traditional Republican platform of non-interventionism that included not policing the world. It is arguable that Obama’s popularity and subsequent election can be attributed to the same promises. So far, neither of them has kept those promises. Do you think America should have an imperialistic or non-interventionist, non-policing world foreign policy? If it is the latter, please explain how having active military in 130 countries and spending more money on the military than the rest of the world combined fits that definition.
55. Regarding the recent federal dismissal of countless Constitutional limits on government, do you agree that Colorado has a lasting and uninfringeable sovereignty from what is an increasingly more centralized and non-representative form of government? Do you agree with the tenth amendment that states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”? If you do, please explain how you plan to protect Colorado from government domination and what you would do to reduce the size of government to that which is explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution?
56. When you are Senator, will you be bound by the laws you enact?
Prepared Questions by Student Panelist Lawson Cheek
A. Some of my peers believe economic recession in America is a sign of a failing capitalist society. How do you respond?
B. As the future leaders of this country, Colorado Christian University students need instruction, not only in core academic material, but also about constitutional principles and citizenship. What would you advise the young voters in this audience to focus on?
C. As a future law student and perhaps a candidate myself one day, I look at the four of you and wonder how to get there from here. What can we be doing right now in our teens or 20's to prepare for our own potential campaigns later on?
Prepared Questions by Student Panelist Kristina Schermer
A.The media today focuses a lot of its attention on the rising cost of higher education? One day I hope to raise kids that will then have the opportunity to attend college? What do you predict the reality of higher education costs will be and how do you hope to respond to this? B.In the recent decade I have witnessed a decrease in the American people taking responsibility for their actions most obviously with their wallets. How do you plan to enable and encourage Americans to be proactive about their future and managing their money? C.For my generation we have watched the world cross boarders each day creating a more blended culture. As the United States continues to embrace diversity and transform how do you propose to preserve the American culture and traditions?
Prepared Questions by Moderator John Andrews
A. With the unsuccessful campaigns of 2004 and 2008, Republicans trying to elect a senator were sort of like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football. Despite nominating good men, it seemed nothing went right. What needs to be different in 2010, and why are you the best person to make the difference?
B. We hear various descriptions of the enemy that America has confronted since the September attacks of 2001, or some would say since the Tehran embassy attack of 1979. How do you identify this enemy, this conflict we’re engaged in, and what we do need to do for victory?
C. Unemployment recently hit 10.2%, the worst in a quarter-century. What is your prescription for economic recovery?
D. Tell us what President of the United States you would like to travel back in time and have dinner with?
Workmanlike, but not quite the Lincoln-Douglas debates... this was theme in three accounts of last night's Centennial Institute candidate forum. Kristen Wyatt of AP noted the rivals' sameness. Blogger Don Johnson was underwhelmed, while Ron Michel, his Arapahoe County neighbor, went further and expressed dismay. But the fact remains, as noted in this morning's Denver Post, that we scored a first as far as putting the four main GOP contenders on the stage together. This stands as a bookend with the "last" scored a week ago, when Josh Penry made his final campaign appearance opposite Scott McInnis and Dan Maes before quitting the race on Tuesday. Here's how Wyatt, Johnson, and Michel saw the Nov. 10 non-shootout shootout:
Colorado's GOP Senate hopefuls sound similar Grand Junction Sentinel, Nov. 10By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press
LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Four Colorado Republicans running for the U.S. Senate did little to differentiate themselves in a forum where they agreed on every topic.
Talking before a friendly conservative crowd in Lakewood, the Republicans saved their barbs for Democrats in Washington. They didn't criticize each other, and none of them even mentioned Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who holds the seat they're after and is facing re-election next year.
Former lieutenant governor Jane Norton said Congress is spending too much. The sentiment was echoed by the other candidates: Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, former state Sen. Tom Wiens and business Cleve Tidwell.
All said the key to Republican success next year was to seize on dissatisfaction with Washington.
------------------------------------------------------------------------Jane Norton, Ken Buck, Tom Wiens put on a good showBy Donald Johnson - BusinessWord.com
Colorado GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate put on a good show for some 240 supporters at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood Tuesday night.
Everybody was prepared. Nobody flubbed any lines, and they agreed that
Republicans have to return to their principles and be proud that they are Republicans.
All eyes were on Jane Norton, the former Lt. Governor under Governor Bill Owens. She performed flawlessly and had ready answers for the rather broad questions posed by a panel of three.
Former state representative and senator Tom Wiens made his debut as a candidate and proved that he is a big league campaigner.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck showed his court room skills and his knowledge of some of the nitty gritty problems with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s health spending bill HR 3962.
Retired businessman Cleve Tidwell demostrated his knowledge of domestic, world and energy economics, but he also showed he’s a political rookie. He didn’t make mistakes. He just didn’t sound as polished as the other candidates.
The candidates agreed that they don’t like the tax and spend frenzy that President Obama and Congressional Democrats are trying to impose on the country, and they don’t like the public option or much else about the health spending bill that the Democrats are trying to ram through Congress.
They also pretty much agreed that Obama must decide on his Afghanistan military strategy soon, and they believe the U.S. must stay in that country until regional stability is established and until Americans can leave the country in better shape than they found it in 2001.
The candidates weren’t asked about incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, and no one mentioned him specifically. They’re all running against Washington, period.
Former Governor Bill Owens, former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong and Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams all attended the talent show and seemed pleased with what they saw and heard. Armstrong is president of CCU.
The forum was moderated by the former president of the state senate, John Andrews. He was the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate in 1990 and now works at CCU.
Yawn... Give'em all a C
By Ron Michel email@example.com
There is no reason to write a lengthy review of tonight's Senate Forum. What's there to say? Senator John Andrews did his masterful job of moderating and his CCU student team were as professional as ever. Full house --200 or so including a welcomed surprise, Governor Bill Owens.
If I were to grade the candidates, it would have to be a warm-milk C. All did OK; mistakes were not made. Overall, it was a big yawn, a me-too gathering of wanna-bees... about as exciting as watching reruns of Mr. Rogers. All very nice, polite people that would bore the most ardent politico.
I would say that Senator Wiens might have come across as most polished. Norton seemed to rely on all well-known political sayings and suck-up comments about "doing what's good for the good people of Colorado." That part wasn't good. It was another yawn.
Buck and Tidwell both had a few minor positive points that we all have read or said and seemed to be voiced more for applause than a rallying point. I blame the tight format and strict time limits more than anything.
What I saw and heard tonight made me nervous, not confident. If this is the best we have to offer, we're in trouble. There was no emotion, no energy, no anger, no passion, no guts, no Tancredo -type dramatics. Nothing that would make one jump up from their seat and shout out " your damn right... I'm with you. Lets go kick some Democrat [booty]."
Just a thought, but I would like to see some political venue come up with a better format that would allow the candidates to really express themselves. Less rules, less constrictions. I want these people to bare their souls, to scream out how they feel about our country and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." I want to feel their passion, their commitment and their emotional leadership that will be reflected in giant win for Republican come 2010.
A cheering crowd of nearly 300 filled Colorado Christian University's School of Music auditorium last night to hear four candidates for the U.S. Senate. Weld County D.A. Ken Buck, Former Lt. Governor Jane Norton, businessman Cleve Tidwell and former State Senator Tom Wiens addressed the Centennial Institute's Candidate Forum. The program, which follows last week's forum for gubernatorial candidates, will be broadcast statewide on Colorado Public Television and Salem Radio, including KNUS 710 in the Denver metro area.
Following the one hour presentation, candidates mingled with voters for nearly an hour. Among the spectators were former Colorado Governor Bill Owens, members of the Colorado Legislature, county commissioners and political activists, as well as CCU faculty, staff and students, reporters, bloggers and interested citizens.
Congratulations to Centennial Institute's John Andrews for organizing and moderating an outstanding event. He was ably assisted by CCU seniors Kristina Schermer and Lawson Cheek who posed their own questions and those submitted by members of the audience. Although time did not permit all of the audience questions to be presented to the candidates, each question will be posted on this website.
All in all, it was a great evening, informative and interesting. Unfortunately, two of the candidates who were invited – Senator Bennett and former Speaker Romanoff – were unable to participate. We hope they will visit CCU on another occasion in the near future.
This morning’s Denver Post carried an excellent story which is linked here.
('76 Editor) Before Tuesday, only one loss had ever marred Barack Obama’s smooth ascent to greatness. From the Harvard Law Review to the Illinois Senate to the United States Senate to the White House, the charmed young leader rose unstoppably. The lone speed bump was his congressional primary defeat in 2000.
Then came the shellacking of 2009. Governorships in two key states flipped from Democrat to Republican despite the president’s best efforts. Virginia and New Jersey were both solidly blue a year ago. But recession-weary voters proved to be a stingier prize jury than the leftists of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
So much for water-walking on the Potomac. Meanwhile on the Platte, how did these elections treat Bill Ritter? Our beleaguered governor was not on the ballot. But he is under more pressure than Obama, with a budget to balance, no health-care razzle dazzle at hand, and one year left in his term. While clues for the next election from Tuesday’s results were slight, they held little comfort for Ritter.
Maine’s spending lobby may have succeeded in defeating a TABOR-style requirement for voter approval of taxes, with teacher unions doing a $1.8 million ad blitz of lies about Colorado. Former Gov. Bill Owens and former education commissioner Bill Moloney responded as a truth squad, but the dark side won.
At home in Aurora, however, sensible citizens turned down a tax hike for libraries, of all things. Not even motherhood and apple pie could move the tapped-out taxpayers. It’s a sign that Ritter and his government pals will face a tough sell for any “revenue enhancements” in 2010, or for an outright repeal of TABOR in 2011, if he’s still around. No wonder he prefers a flimsy fix for the budget shortfall with federal stimulus dollars.
This governor’s entire persona has morphed from flinty to flimsy since 2006. It’s harder and harder to take him seriously. He has a gravitas gap. His blunders with labor-management issues have made the statehouse “feel like Detroit,” said Republican challenger Josh Penry at a candidate forum the other night. Team Ritter can’t keep their story straight about the Villafuerte scandal, job creation data, or his own hiring record.
Nor was union political muscle, so helpful in Bill Ritter’s victory three years ago (along with “lawbreaker” slurs against opponent Bob Beauprez), fearsome this time out. Teacher-union candidates did tip the Denver School Board their way on Tuesday. But a reform slate defeated four union-endorsed candidates for Douglas County Schools, and conservative Laura Boggs unseated a liberal incumbent in Jeffco Schools.
Last week’s local election results also hinted of a GOP that is regaining its ground game. My party pushed back against the stealth Democratic efforts in those nominally nonpartisan municipal and school board races. Arapahoe Republican Chairman Dave Kerber helped elect Marsha Berzins to the Aurora Council and Ron Phelps to the Centennial Council. Douglas Republican Chairman John Ranson courageously put money and muscle into his county’s board of education fight.
Hearing that some paper had published his obituary, Mark Twain played it for laughs. Republicans at that forum for governor hopefuls (held Nov. 3 at the Centennial Institute) had a laughing optimism seldom seen since 2004. Senate Minority Leader Penry, former Congressman Scott McInnis, and businessman Dan Maes are campaigning as if they missed the memo that this is now a one-party state. And attitude counts for a lot; ask the Broncos and Coach McDaniels.
Twelve months is forever in politics, it’s true. As Obama slumped in the year past, so Ritter may rebound in the year ahead. But his blue crew is reeling right now. Though no great seer – I’m the guy who thought the Beatles were a flash in the pan – my hunch is Colorado returns to red in 2010.
(CCU President) A packed house at Colorado Christian University's School of Music auditorium gave gubernatorial candidates a rousing reception last night, as they spoke at CCU's Candidate Forum, sponsored by the university's Centennial Institute.
Candidates Scott McInnis, Josh Penry and Dan Maes presented their credentials in an hour long televised forum hosted by Centennial Institute Director John Andrews. An audience of 300 was invited to submit questions which were posed to candidates by CCU Seniors Chad Ryder and Samantha Scoggins. Time permitted candidates to respond to only a few of approximately 50 questions submitted, but all audience questions will be posted tomorrow on this website. The questions will constitute a “checklist of citizen concerns,” Andrews pointed out.
Governor Ritter had been expected to participate, but at 5:00 PM Monday afternoon, his office called to say that he was unable to resolve a scheduling conflict.
The forum was captured on video and will be seen statewide on Colorado Public Television and broadcast by Salem Radio stations around the state, including KNUS 710 in the Denver area. The event was covered by Associated Press and The Denver Post. The Post story is here.
A similar forum for US Senate candidates will be held at the same time, same place, next Tuesday evening the 10th of November.
Our temptation to prognosticate is nearly insatiable and our media-driven politics exacerbates this tendency. The reliability and value of these predictions is tenuous at best. Poll-driven politics is obsessed with “who’s ahead” and “who’s behind.” Rather than reflecting reasonable scholarship and knowledge, these projections are often either misguided guesses or wishful thinking on the part of a partisan media.
Following the election of President Obama and the increase in the Democrat majority control of both the House and Senate in 2008, numerous articles, television stories, pundits and op-ed pieces predicted that the country was headed towards increased Democratic control for the coming years. With this trend would be the requisite Republican Party decline, followed by years in the wilderness. This assessment concluded of course, that the country had made a significant shift in favor of liberal Democrat policies.
In the past few days, however, new polls have begun to show a resurgence of the Republican Party! The general favorability rating comparing the public’s confidence between Democrats and Republicans shows increasing dissatisfaction with the Democrats, accompanied by either steady ratings or slightly improving ratings for the Republicans. Reviewing specific polling data for both 2009 and 2010 elections, Republicans are leading in key gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia (both states carried by President Obama) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is trailing two potential Republican candidates in his re-election bid.
This recent shift in favorability ratings should not be interpreted as a definitive sign that the Republicans will realize a 1994-like resurgence, although it is certainly possible. Such a prediction at this time would be just as rash as that of those following the 2008 election who said that the Democrats would be in control for an extended period of time.
The United States has been in a fairly steady trend of divided government for the past 30+ years. More often than not, the public have elected the president from one party while favoring the other party with control of the legislature. In most of the elections cycles, either party has had a reasonable chance of electoral success. The events during the 2008 election, of course, were strongly stacked against the Republicans in favor the Democrats, but this was unique in our recent history.
This recent era is distinctive in American politics, for while we have always been a two party system, we have experienced long periods where one party was clearly dominant. For instance, form the 1860 election until the late 1920’s, the Republicans were unmistakably stronger than the Democrats, winning the White House, controlling the Congress, controlling a majority of state governments and leading in party registration. A similar trend existed favoring the Democrats from Roosevelt’s victory in 1932 through the mid-1960’s. Since that time, we have seen a public willing to support either party’s candidates, often willing to split their vote between the parties. Recent elections have been decided more often on individual candidates and/or salient issues during an election cycle.
While pundits seek to make bold predictions concerning polling trends, parties and candidates would be wise to temper their forecasts. Voter memory is short. Apparent trends in November of 2008 or in late August of 2009 may very well be worthless by the time the next election cycle rolls around.