NOONAN: GOP state treasurer race highlights national GOP rifts

Author: Paula Noonan - October 4, 2017 - Updated: October 4, 2017

Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Colorado’s GOP primary race for state treasurer has hit some nasty bumps with Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, lobbing water balloons at Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park.

Everett, oozing condescension, called Lawrence “not ready for prime time,” according to Ernest Luning, political reporter for Colorado Politics.  Some may remember that Everett was put into “time out” in his first session for snoozing during committee hearings.  He also missed 30 final votes that year, compared to Lawrence at 13 and GOP State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud, also running for treasurer, at 3.  Everett apparently feels he’s redeemed himself from those unready early days.

If an almost perfect record for taking a vote when it counts most is an important criterion for the treasurer’s office, then Democrat Rep. Steve Lebsock, of Thornton, is your guy.  Since 2013, he’s only missed 2 final votes, compared to Everett at 44, Lawrence at 14, and Lundberg at 13.

Everett has made a point of proudly voting NO more often than any legislator on all types of bills since he started at the Capitol.  In 2017, with bills signed by the governor and containing budget, tax, or fee elements, he voted YES 100 times and NO 83 times, compared to Lawrence at 145 YES to 36 NO, and Lundberg at 159 YES to 21 NO.

Everett can also proudly point to his least productive record in getting his sponsored bills passed: 0 for 7 in 2017, including the smack down of HB17-1086 that meddles with the private relationship between a woman and her doctor or pharmacist.

To say that Everett is an outlier is an understatement.  Just in 2017, he voted against money for rural Colorado and roads (SB-267), the mentally ill (SB-264 and SB-207), hospitals (SB-256), technology advancement (SB-255), the state budget (SB-254), motorcycle rider training (SB-243), an update of the 1921 irrigation law (HB-1030), funding for the state fraud unit (HB-1043), modernizing state procurement rules (HB-1051), BEST school capital projects (HB-1082), public education per-student funding (SB-296), and a pilot program for Public Guardianship (HB-1087).

Lundberg and Lawrence are not known as conservative slouches.  Lundberg is an astute member of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee and is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  He’s studied the state’s budget inside out.  His appointments mean he has the respect of Senate leadership as a fiscal conservative and effective decision-maker.  His bill-sponsor record in 2017 shows 24 sponsored with 17 signed by the governor.

Lawrence was in House minority leadership.  She runs her family’s 93-year-old construction company.  She knows the state’s transportation needs exactly where the rubber hits the potholes and floods take out the roads.  Republicans respect her expertise.  They appointed her to the House Transportation and Energy Committee.  Lawrence sponsored 20 bill with 12 signed by the governor.

Lundberg’s votes on money issues support the hard-fought negotiations between both parties to bring a state budget forward.  Lawrence stepped up to help rural Colorado hospitals, voting YES on the “Sustainability of Rural Colorado” bill.

GOP voters who support the view that the state provides needed services for roads, bridges, health care, and public education will contest GOP voters who want to drown government in the bathtub.  In this race, the Republican party reflects the push and pull of the national GOP.  Will it be the state GOP’s avatar for 2020?

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.