(Denver Post, Mar. 21) Political inexperience was the gold standard among 30 of my neighbors at a precinct caucus in Centennial last week. Fellow Republicans viewed the 2010 contenders for senator and governor with the hard eyes of swindle victims or jilted lovers. The less involved a candidate had been with our party’s time in state and national office over the past dozen years, the more acceptable he or she seemed for nomination this year.
Caucus night in March was only the first step on a long road to election night in November, 225 days from now. But it dramatized the “once burned, twice shy” distrust of government that will shape the choices made by Colorado voters in GOP, Democratic, and independent ranks. Trust when broken is hard to restore. That’s the penalty box our whole political system is in right now. Unpredictable new forces are in play as this campaign unfolds.
The Tuesday meeting at a school library near our house was older, white, and mostly men. Rainbow America we were not, but we gathered with a love for this land of liberty and a desire to make a difference. Before things started, there was laughter and applause when someone pointed to a presidential book display featuring Barack Obama and George Washington and quipped, “The goal is a government with less of him and more of HIM.
In the precinct straw poll for a nominee to regain the US Senate seat from Democrats Michael Bennet or Andrew Romanoff, Sedalia businessman and former state Sen. Tom Wiens took 40%, followed by former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton with 37% and district attorney Ken Buck with 23%. In the trial heat for governor, Evergreen businessman and rookie candidate Dan Maes got a notable 44%, trailing former congressman Scott McInnis, the prohibitive favorite, who had 56%.
Our tiny sample largely tracked the statewide Republican tallies, though it was Ken Buck who ran close with Jane Norton in the overall count. More striking to me than the percentages was the mood in the room. A burly guy named Larry spoke for many with his warnings of the tax-and-spend taint attaching to an ex-congressman and an ex- lieutenant governor. Countering him with the case for McInnis and Norton was the more youthful and smooth-spoken Cole, but you could see many skeptical frowns.
I’m uncommitted in both races, and cast a secret ballot that night. Any of the GOP contenders, whatever their shortcomings or the party’s past lapses, would obviously work harder for limited government – the imperative right now, before our country goes bankrupt – than would a Sen. Bennet, a Sen. Romanoff, or a Gov. John Hickenlooper as liberal Democrats. That’s why my party must not self-immolate in the 2010 primary as we did in the 2006 gubernatorial bloodbath. The prize is November.
Dems actually face a tougher task with this year’s fed-up electorate than my side does. Their Colorado ticket will be a pair of entitlement-peddling, union-bought insiders by whatever names. Our nominees can definitely take outside position against that. Whether Republicans are ready to use power more responsibly this time, if trusted with it again, is another question. Bluntly acknowledging that question would be a good start; frontrunners take note.
Nothing can be taken for granted. Lent is a far piece from Halloween. What if an autumn house of horrors found America at war with Iran? The incumbent party might benefit decisively from a rally to the flag. Half a year is an eternity in politics, we’ve learned again and again.
“I’m giving the Republicans one more chance,” Doug told our caucus. Bitterly disillusioned by McCain after 2008, he’s back as a delegate this spring. As buyers’ remorse with Obama deepens, will voters similarly gamble and grant the GOP a do-over?
('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
('76 Editor) Tom James of People's Press Collective.com was at CCU to film the Nov. 10 senatorial forum as well as the Nov. 3 gubernatorial forum. Below are the links for both video files. PPC, as they call themselves, will partner with Centennial Institute to sponsor an all-day boot camp on "Blogging Right," Dec. 5 at the Beckman Center on our campus. Email us at email@example.com for details.
Here's the Senate forum video.
Here's the Governor's forum video.
('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?